Fun and Gone?

5 05 2008

Mike D’Antoni and the Phoenix Suns have revolutionized the game.

The concoction of D’Antoni, Steve Nash, the Colangelos and a frenetic brand of basketball literally energized the NBA.

The Phoenix Suns challenged the long-held “defense above all” basketball axiom. Their play challenged the institutions and huffed at the purists.

They won in a way that they weren’t supposed to. Steve Nash was at the center of a free-flowing offense that would make his old Maverick team blush.

Within 7 seconds of possession, a field goal was to be thrown up. They took the first quasi-good shot the defense afforded them.

And the Suns organization had a collective grin from ear to ear. It’s as if they got caught doing something bad and they were defiantly enjoying the consequences.

After 253 D’Antoni-led wins in five years, trouble seems to be catching up to them.

There have been rumors that Mike D’Antoni may out of Phoenix next season. Rumors are rumors, of course. And I know it’s faulty logic but the very fact a D’Antoni firing is mentioned means something to me. It means that the fun may be coming to an end.

The Suns were everything that David Stern wanted. They were an entertaining, high-scoring squad that made a bunch of egotistical individuals (see: Amare, Nash and Marion) look like they were playing team ball.

In many ways, the Suns allowed the NBA to create a separate product within itself. Their success was aided by the perimeter, hand-checking enforcements. The installment of zone defenses allowed the Suns to gain some semblance of a team defense. And the often-mentioned European influence on the NBA was personified in the desert.

The Suns were created to break the mold. A perfect storm was brewing for them; everyone was cheering for an offense-first team to win it all. So what went wrong?

As Steve Kerr took the general manager position in Phoenix he said, “I’ll only be making minor tweaks here and there,” and “you don’t fix something that isn’t broken.”

If only that Past Steve could see Present Steve…

Whether it’s fair or not, a lot of the blame will fall on Kerr. Even though Nash, D’Antoni and the ownership signed off on the Shaq-for-Marion trade, Kerr will bear the brunt of that decision.

It’s safe to say that the Shaquille O’Neal experiment has gone terribly wrong. To think that the Suns actually thought they were better than the San Antonio Spurs. I guess they were a lot closer to the edge than anyone would have thought.

Trading away a long, versatile and athletic wing for an aging, over-paid out of shape big man shouldn’t even be done in video games. Everyone knew it was a terrible decision and now the writing’s on the wall.

If D’Antoni is let go, Kerr won’t have anyone to share the blame with. Steve Nash is a media darling. No one expects much out of Shaq anymore, so he will be free from harm.

For all of the hype around the Phoenix Suns, they really weren’t all too successful in the postseason. The future doesn’t look too bright but one thing is certain: Steve Kerr will no longer get the benefit of the doubt.