By Paul Rubin
The Suns were kind enough to stick New Times up in Section 207 for last night's fiasco against the San Antonio Superiors. Best to be as far from the action in the 115-99 crushing loss as possible, sitting among good folks who have lived and now are about to die with their beloved NBA team. But even way up there, the overwhelmingly negative vibe down on the court just three or four minutes into the all-important game soon became palpable.
"Hey, you guys, anyone tell you this is a big game?" one fella yelled down from the rafters after Tony Parker hit his third or fourth hoop right out of the chute.
Yes, this was a big game, the season really, for the Suns, and it had started with such promise. The big screen above the court told all of us that this is a place "Where Whatever It Takes Happens," and "Where Comebacks From 0-2 Happen." Maybe somewhere, sometime. But not on this night, not with this team and, sadly for Suns fans, not this year.
The best that the homies had to cheer all game long came with seconds to go in the first half (the Suns were down by double digits), when Shaquille O'Neal knocked down the Spurs' sublime "sixth man" Manu Ginobili with a hard foul. Yes, long before it officially was over just after 10 p.m., the proverbial handwriting had been tattooed on the psyches of every Phoenix fan present, from owner Robert Sarver to the little Latino kid whose dad tried to console him on the down escalator with six minutes left and the stands emptying.
The great radio man, Al McCoy, was at a rare loss for words immediately afterward, concluding only that Phoenix had seemed "soft" from the git-go, and had been playing back on their heels as the Spurs exerted their dominance from the opening tip. So, cutting to the chase, even if the Suns somehow pull themselves together and win tomorrow afternoon to extend this once-promising series to a fifth game, the odds of any kind of longterm miracle happening (i.e. Phoenix becoming the first team in NBA history to erase a 3-0 deficit to win a series) are incalcuable.
No defense, no bench, and now, seemingly, no faith in themselves or their head coach, Mike D'Antoni, who--just four seasons removed from selection as NBA Coach of the Year--may be this close from losing his job....seemingly almost overnight, Steve Kerr, the president of basketball operations and Suns' GM, whom we profiled this week and who had hoped for such great things for this team, has some momentous decisions to make about this team and its future. Just as soon as this thing, mercifully, ends, probably sooner than later.