Shaquille O'Neal and Steve Kerr
Shaquille O'Neal and Steve Kerr

Letters from the issue of Thursday, May 8, 2008


It wasn't Kerr's fault: Okay, it's over for the Phoenix Suns, but I still think your story on Steve Kerr was an important one to tell ("Running Down a Dream," Paul Rubin, April 24). It's moving how Kerr overcame the death of his father to become a legendary NBA player and general manager for the Suns.

Something to be remembered in the Suns' demise is that Kerr is not to blame, nor is the big guy he acquired from the Miami Heat. The Shaquille O'Neal deal should have worked for the Suns. Certainly, Shaq isn't what he used to be as a player, but he did what he was supposed to do. He scored in double figures and had double-figure rebounds.


Steve Kerr

It was the rest of the Suns who couldn't work with O'Neal, principally Steve Nash. Maybe [Nash] is getting too old and should be traded. I just pray the Suns do something in the off-season that gives us hope for the future.

But back to the Kerr story. I found it a compelling read. Especially the part about how everybody kept counting Kerr out, and he kept succeeding. When the fans were yelling "PLO, PLO" at him, that was tragic. It's proof of how ridiculously seriously fans take sports.
Hope McNamara, Phoenix

It was Kerr's fault: What great timing! New Times runs a story on the great — not! — Steve Kerr just as the Suns are tanking. Couldn't happen to a nicer publication. Just goes to show you why New Times is wrong about so many things so much of the time.

Steve Kerr was a mediocre player, and he's worse than a mediocre general manager. Why is it that owner Robert Sarver (who's supposed to be a shrewd businessman) would think Steve Kerr would know anything about managing?

Kerr didn't even have the gumption to stop Sarver and Mike D'Antoni (who's got to be one of the dumbest fuckers around) from getting the worn-out Shaquille O'Neal. Way to stand up for what you believe in, Kerr! It's well known that you didn't really like the trade.

Maybe if the Suns snagged a Hall of Fame general manager (Kerr will never be in the Hall of Fame as a player), he could trade for the missing piece that would win us a championship. It certainly wasn't Shaq.

If this reads like I'm bitter, I am! Planet Orange, my ass!
Redd Savage, Phoenix

Most people would've crumbled: The Steve Kerr story was a delight. Too bad nobody on the Suns is as consistent a three-point shooter as Steve was. The team wouldn't have lost [the San Antonio playoff series] if somebody could have gone in and hit consistently.

The best aspect of the Kerr story is learning about his history, about how he came back to realize his dream after his father was violently murdered by extremists in Lebanon. Most people would have crumbled under that, but it seemed to motivate Steve to become a basketball legend.

What I love about New Times is that it not only tells the story but tells the story behind the story. And so many times, with such elegance.
Timothy Davis, Tempe

Shaq, Kerr did their jobs: Now that we have stuck a fork in the Suns, I have to say that I really enjoyed the Steve Kerr profile. Obviously, the Shaq deal didn't bring a title to Phoenix, but that doesn't mean it was a bad idea.

I think Kerr is to be congratulated for having done it, because Shaq was a joy to have around. He also did his job. As one of the sports columnists I happened to read said: The Suns didn't blow it because of the Shaq trade. He did what he was supposed to do. They blew it because Coach Mike D'Antoni couldn't adapt the team to any sort of low-post game.
Troy Cinnelli, Tucson

Talent and space: Thanks for the penetrating look at Steve Kerr's life by Paul Rubin. Rubin once again has given New Times readers a great yarn. He tells the stories that the Arizona Republic and the Arizona Daily Star either don't have the space or the talent to tell. Signed, Paul's mom. Just kidding!
David Westfield, Tucson

Everyone knows kids can be cruel: How can people be so cruel? The part about the fans heckling Steve Kerr over the death of his dad was so sad. It made me cry to think about how that must have been for him.

Granted, these were only college kids, but they were kids whose parents didn't bring them up well. Some things are simply off-limits.
Sue Tedesco, Las Vegas

Dare to dream, Joseph: Steve Kerr truly did have an amazing career. He was in the right place at the right time. I love this kind of story because it makes some of us think that maybe, just maybe (you know, if we had just had just that break or two) we could have been a sports legend, too.

Your story got me to fantasizing. Then, I had to come back to Earth and realize that I never had a killer jump shot. Also, I'm 5-foot-7. Oh, well. For a minute, I dared to dream!
Joseph Gonzalez, Phoenix

Luck equals preparation plus opportunity: You managed to sum up Steve Kerr's entire career in the [graphic] that went with your story: the six straight three-pointers for the Arizona Wildcats, the Finals-winning shot with the Bulls in 1997, and the four three-pointers during the Spurs' comeback win against Dallas [in game 6 of the 2003 Western Conference Championship].

He had skill, no doubt. But he was also lucky as hell to be on those teams in the first place. Without those three big moments, nobody would even remember his NBA career.
Mike Mitchell, Tempe

Write more sports tales, Paul: Great story on Steve Kerr! What a neat, funny guy, and what a background! Paul, write more sports stories. You've got a knack.
Luisa Darling, Phoenix

The heart of Steve: I loved this story about Steve Kerr and the Suns. I'm not giving up on them. If the players all had the heart of Steve . . .

As a middle-school teacher, I'm going to have my students read this story (even with the f-bomb at the beginning — so what?), and want to thank you for telling everyone what that guy is all about.
Johnnie Contreras, Surprise

Coach Kerr?: Here's an idea: Make Steve Kerr the new Suns coach! I could tell from your story that there was bad blood between him and Coach Mike D'Antoni.

D'Antoni should have let Kerr give him suggestions on use of players, etc. and not had such a bad attitude. The Suns' lack of depth killed them against San Antonio.
Steve Nicholson, via the Internet

Where was the D?: Your article only hinted at the dispute between GM Steve Kerr and Coach Mike D'Antoni, but news reports have contained more on this in the days since the Suns were (aghast!) eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

In your article, both were on their best behavior regarding the other. Still, it was obvious there was a big problem. Don't get me wrong, I think D'Antoni is a brilliant offensive coach. But he has never made his team play defense. Maybe he doesn't even know how to coach this way; after all, he was an offensive player and coach exclusively in Italy. I know from watching Kerr doing commentary on TNT [before he became GM] that he thought the Suns were sadly underwhelming on defense. He must have stressed this deficiency to D'Antoni, who was apparently too stubborn to listen.

The Shaq move was a step in the right direction, but it was too little too late. Shaq played great, considering his age, but without team defense, the Suns went nowhere. I just hope that Kerr is able to make D'Antoni get on the same page about this, or that he gets a coach who will play on both ends of the court.
Name withheld by request

Fire D'Antoni, Steve: You guys at New Times would've looked like geniuses if the Suns just could've won the games they should've won in the first round. Going into Game 5, it just as easily could've been 3-1 in favor of the Suns. Turnovers, blown coaching decisions, missed free throws! Then, Steve Kerr would've looked like a genius, and not a goat.

Sack D'Antoni, and give GM Kerr a chance to get a coach who'll stress defense, not just offense!
Name withheld by request

Falling out of love with Nash: I really think the problem with the Suns is Steve Nash. He has lost several steps since his recent MVP years. The team could probably get a couple of decent younger players for him, or a single top player. Maybe the love affair with him is over, and it's time to move on.
Name withheld by request


An investigation is needed: I was appalled to read about Cliff Young and his termination for complaining about discrimination at the Arizona Department of Transportation ("Employee of the Month," April 10, Sarah Fenske).

The fact that Mr. Young was terminated for bringing evidence of discrimination to light is an outrage, since the Arizona Civil Rights Act protects employees who complain about discriminatory practices (even if the complainer isn't the one being discriminated against).

This is just another disgraceful example of how protection of the law is selectively applied. Shame on ADOT and on the state for Young's termination and groundless prosecution, and kudos to Young for standing up for the truth.
Kathleen Hatch, Phoenix

An unjustifiable termination: How can ADOT possibly justify firing Cliff Young?! There needs to be an investigation of his firing, and I would hope that some official at ADOT would be up on criminal charges.

This kind of stuff is shameless, and, as citizens, we cannot let our taxpayer-supported governments get away with it. Somebody in power needs to step up and support those who tell the truth. Instead they just sit back and let them be thrown to the dogs.

Pretty soon, nobody will speak up when there's corruption/wrongdoing, and citizens will be even bigger losers than we already are in this state.
Nancy Bradley, Phoenix

Cast a stone, create change: I really would like to see the public and, moreover, state employees at ADOT unite against ADOT to stop the management tag team from misrepresenting state interests in place of their own personal agendas.

I'm proud to call this one-man crusader a friend, but one courageous man cannot do it alone. The employees of state government and the public alike must unite to stop state government's waste of human and financial resources.

To do this we have to stop being sheep. We have to stop sitting back and watching Mr. Young and other union representatives go up against Goliath. We have to act as David did and cast the stone to create change.

The abuse of authority at ADOT and (from what I have seen) at other state agencies has gone on much too long. It's time for reform. I encourage all government employees to join unions and become the majority to create change within state government.
Steven L. Higgins, Glendale


It's up to the rich to save us: Nice article ("The Green Machine," Sarah Fenske, part of the "Green Fatigue" package, April 17). But I think it's unrealistic to say that people should do at least as much as companies. Here's why: I did not ask to be born into a world where companies have already ransacked rainforests, tapped foreign oil, and provided me with coal-wonderful electricity.

Personally, I'd rather not have all these wonderful "choices" and fend for myself. These companies didn't exploit the world for my benefit. They did it in the hopes of making millions, and they have. Corporations, more than any individual, are responsible for the effects their systems have on the world.

To expect a starving person to care as much about helping preserve the Earth as a trust-fund millionaire is exactly the sort of logical stupidity that Republicanism is founded in. If this world is to be saved, it will be saved by the rich.

To try to argue that Exxon has as much responsibility to the world as I do is intellectually interesting, but it's missing the bigger point that whoever can help should help as much as he or she can because that will keep our wonderful world alive, which will help shareholders and employees alike. And with trillions of dollars in cash, companies have the resources, manpower, and economic incentive (the creation of a global consumer class) to drastically improve our environmental and social conditions.

I do agree with the "conservative" position that fixing the world is no one's responsibility, but if [everybody] got together and intelligently worked with governments, this world could be on track for sustainable prosperity in less than a decade.
Shawn Bhandari, Fountain Hills

Vegan-sexuals — that's hot: I'm the production editor for Natural Products Marketplace, and I stumbled across ("Veggie Tails," Steve Jansen). I think it's great that you're bringing to light the little-to-unknown aspects of being intimate as vegans in "Green Fatigue."

There are several obstacles for vegans who want to experience different levels of sexual activity but don't want to compromise their belief system. We just did a story on what it means to be vegan, and our sidebar discusses the idea of vegan-sexuals, vegans who reject meat-eaters as sexual partners. Thanks for writing about such a unique and different perspective!
Rebecca Cannon, Phoenix

Cut dependence on the Mideast: I can see Ray Stern's point entirely in his "Green Fatigue" story ("Fuelish Mistakes"). That is, that gasoline-powered cars are just as clean as any of the mass-produced alternative-fuel vehicles.

The big point that this story misses is our dependence on foreign oil. It's not just about the environment, people! It's mostly about the fact that there is just so much fossil fuel left in the world, and much of it's under the Middle East.

We need to break the ties to these countries. A lot of problems will be solved if we do. For instance, we can stop sending our young men to fight in and around these nations. The main reason we've fought two wars in Iraq is that we need to keep the oil supply coming and, in turn, keep our SUVs and monster pickups speeding down our highways. It's complicated, but connect the dots.

And, yes, it's hypocritical to claim that these alternative-fuel vehicles do anything for the environment, but it's valid as hell to say that they do something for our independence from the Middle East.

We've got to face the fact that we must develop a fuel source to replace petroleum. We must!
Ed Gant, Los Angeles

Dying young = bad idea, Ray: The "Fuelish Mistakes" article does a great job of discussing problems related to vehicles and air pollution. The one solution — die young — leaves something to be desired.
Barco, Phoenix


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