Thu Feb 7, 2008
I’m reeling after the Suns’ stupendous loss to what should be, theoretically, my new hometown team. The extraordinarily homeric Hornets announcers failed to mention during the game that the Suns were playing without Shawn Marion, who, to paraphrase Gregg Popovich, is a big part of we what do here. You may have heard that Marion was traded to Miami (along with someone named Marcus Banks) for Shaquille O’Neal, the most ruinous basketball player of his generation. I found myself pulling for Detroit, of all teams, in 2004, to overcome his baleful, sidereal enchantments. And they did. The Mavericks got what they deserved.
Almost no one, however, is willing to credit the Suns’ front office with anything other than myopia, meretriciousness, or a generalized skulduggery for this trade. I am writing to correct that impression. The Suns almost overcame a quotidian performance from Chris Paul tonight to beat the Hornets in double overtime, carefully utilizing jerry-built three-pointers to create an atmosphere of controlled chaos and utter demoralization. Hitting Bell in the head with the outlet pass took things a bit too far, allowing for the necessary karmic adjustments that permitted charismatic Stojakovich’s final heave to ho.
What is more important for our present purposes, however, is that the Suns looked more like the Suns than usual–because not in spite–of Marion not playing. Marion’s a player who’s relied on ungodly athleticism his entire career. With the minutes he’s played, wear kills; and it has already done so. Not having an orthodox foundation to fall back on, Marion’s productivity will likely degenerate rapidly, and the Suns’ chemistry will certainly improve, even if they never play O’Neal. (I do not deny that Miami has the potential to be an entertaining team now.)
D. J. Strawberry already showed more tonight than Banks has all season, and Diaw is fully rejuvenated.