NBA Finals' Biggest Loser: Phoenix Suns Owner Robert Sarver
Suns set: Dan Majerle, Steve Kerr, Robert Sarver, Alvin Gentry
Courtesy University of Arizona (Kerr), Barry Gossage (Sarver), U.S. State Dept. via Wikimedia Commons (Gentry)
For the second straight year, the epic battle between LeBron James and Steph Curry in the NBA Finals wowed American sports fans.
And for the second straight year, Suns fans could only watch with remorse.
Both teams have key figures who were jettisoned by Suns owner Robert Sarver.
Steve Kerr coached the Warriors to the title last year, won the NBA's Coach of the Year award this season with a team that won a record-setting 73 victories, then came within one win of another championship.
For the Suns, he did a bang-up job as general manager.
But in 2010, shortly after expressing his enthusiasm for staying in the job, he departed. This was at least in part because he wasn't offered a raise when his contract expired. Kerr also wanted more money for Suns coaches.
Sarver replaced Kerr with Lance Blanks, who had a stumbling tenure as general manager.
Just as embarrassing, Sarver replaced the respected Alvin Gentry as head coach with the underqualified Lindsey Hunter, with predictable results. Along the way, Sarver bypassed Suns icon Dan Majerle for the job. This episode ranks as the low point for Sarver's tenure as Suns owner.
Then there's the case of David Griffin, a local kid (Brophy Prep, Arizona State University), who rose from media relations to the video room to the front office, where he served as right-hand man to GMs Bryan Colangelo and Kerr.
His departure was a morale wrecker for the rest of the Suns staff.
Now, he's the general manager for the Cavaliers. He helped rebuild King James' supporting cast on the fly, then made the harrowing (and ultimately rewarding) decision to change coaches in midseason, even though the Cavs had a 30-11 record at the time.
The NBA Finals drew massive audiences and were a thrill for everyone.
Except Suns fans, who got another punch to the gut.