Phoenix Suns: Being the “Nice Guy” Only Takes You so Far

Greg EspositoContributor IIJanuary 20, 2010

PHOENIX - DECEMBER 30:  Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns talks with Leandro Barbosa #10 during the NBA game against the Boston Celtics at US Airways Center on December 30, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Celtics 116-98.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images


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Oh nice guys finish last, when you run out of gas, Don’t pat yourself on the back, you might break your spine.

Those Green Day lyrics proved to be the anthem of many a “nice” young man growing up in the ’90s and soon may be the anthem played at the US Airways Center.

The Suns have hyped being the “nice guys” since Shaq ’s departure and it’s becoming quite obvious to everyone, the team included, that they’ve all but run out of gas. The group may be able to get along in the locker room but they’re failing to get it together on the court since their 14-3 start.

The Suns are just 10-15 since that fast, and much heralded, 17 game stretch. They’ve given up over 120 points eight different times—only twice in the first 17 games—and have begun to slide in the standings (they’re only 1/2 a game from missing out on the playoffs).

Things don’t look good, no matter how nice and fun-loving the team may be.

I have been saddled with the “nice guy” label for a majority of my life. I was the guy that girls locked away in the “friend zone” because I was nice and fun to be around but didn’t have “it” (it took me 11 years of convincing to land my wife).

It was so bad that my high school football career ended because of it. My coach pulled me aside one afternoon during practice and said “Greg, I think you’re just too nice of a guy to play.”

The trend continued until one day, late in my college career, I realized being a nice guy is good most of the time—but I needed to change and have an edge if I wanted to succeed going forward.

The Suns and Steve Kerr need to make the same decision.

Right now they’re in the NBA ’s version of the “friend zone." They’re likable, have the ability to be fun, but they don’t have “it.”

It’s no secret that they aren’t going to win an NBA championship with their current roster, so why not mix it up and find an edge?

A great locker room and a fun atmosphere is nice to talk about in training camp, but a roster that has an edge, an attitude and some swagger gets you championships.

Kobe and Shaq didn’t get along; they won three rings together in L.A.

The San Antonio Spurs weren’t “entertaining” or even likable, but they’ve got four banners hanging in the AT&T Center.

The Chicago Bulls had the egos of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen and won six rings. Dennis Rodman, one of the most polarizing figures in NBA history, was on the team for three of those seasons.

The Houston Rockets had Robert Horry and Sam Cassell during their title runs and the Detroit Pistons’ entire image was predicated on being “bad boys.”

If a title is the end goal, it’s time to rethink things.

If the goal is to have a fun-loving locker room where everyone gets along, congrats, you’ve accomplished it Mr. Kerr. Just don’t pat yourself on the back too hard, you might just break your spine.