Better play well, boys. Apparently, a lot is riding on you.
Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Regular Season
The season is saved! Get your playoff tickets now! J-Rich for MVP!
The Grizzlies then defeated the Suns three days later.
Bench Hedo! The season's over! The American way of life is crumbling all around us!
Of course, all of this means one thing: simmer down.
At last check, an NBA regular season was 82 games long, spanning, in the Suns’ case, 170 days. It’s a season that ends just before Easter and we’re still eating leftover Halloween candy.
The knowledge that our society is built upon immediate gratification is now so ingrained that it’s long since become cliché. When people are irked when their Twitter app takes more than three seconds to load on their iPhones, perish the thought of the media waiting more than 20 games to pronounce the next All-Stars or free-agent busts.
The NBA is not college football. A stumble out of the gates will not derail a season any more than a few early wins will save it. The old adage of “it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon” remains very true.
Case in point: the 1996-1997 Suns. After trading Charles Barkley over the offseason, the team nearly pulled a Detroit Lions by losing their first 13 games until getting their first win on November 26th. Fast-forward six months and the gritty Suns had pushed the second-seeded Sonics to a Game 6 in the first round of the playoffs.
It's simply human nature to get caught up in the moment. On the heels of a great, game-winning play, it's easy to proclaim that it "saved the season." After a blunder loses a game, it's understandable that some may call for the coach's head.
Then 30 seconds passes, and rational, objective thought returns. Or at least it should.
Living in the Phoenix area, I've become numb to the passion-fueled hyperbole from fans calling into sports radio shows, or in many cases, the hosts themselves making bold proclamations that more often than not they eventually regret. Whether they truly believe it or are just looking for attention is a question to which I don't really care to hear the answer.
Society has reached a point of no return. Immediate knee-jerk reactions arrived long ago and are here to stay. Since everyone has a blog and a Twitter account, there's no shortage of opinions to be consumed. That's fine. Annoying, but fine. The price of free speech is having to listen to all the things you'd rather not hear. Some of you may be thinking that about this article right now. Cool. I'll be sure to catch your tweets.
So how does this translate to the 2010-2011 Phoenix Suns?
Right now the Suns are two weeks into their season. After their loss to the Grizzlies, they sit at 3-4 heading into Friday's game against Sacramento. This is a team clearly in transition.
They are adapting to life without Amar’e Stoudemire, their leading scorer five out of the last six seasons. They are led by the 36-year-old legs of Steve Nash and are incorporating three key offseason additions into their run-and-gun system. Per usual, they score a lot of points and they give up a lot of points.
When you're playing Clue, you certainly don't make accusations just a few moves into the game, and this team, more than any Suns squad in years, is a mystery. There haven't been enough games yet to break in the player's shoes, let alone make any assessments of trends that carry any weight. It may take into the New Year, after the players have had time to adapt, before we truly know what this team is capable of and can assess it properly.
Seven down, 75 to go.
Making a definitive judgment of this or any team based off one game or 10 at this point is at best foolish, and at worst irresponsible. Breathe, cheer and enjoy.
Then again, if a Suns loss on Friday is followed up by a plague of locusts...
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