The Phoenix Suns are probably the best over-achieving team in the league because they play high-octane team basketball. It really is beautiful to watch. They have a slogan, “Making basketball fun again.” Not only have they made basketball fun again, they are leading the NBA into it’s new glory days:

It’s the new NASH NBA, embodying superb physical conditioning, cerebral and unselfish basketball, run-and-gun, pick-and-roll, pick-and-pop basketball. The defense is focused on points per possession rather than points per game. More possessions = more fun to watch!

The popularity of the NBA really started emerging with Dr. J., then Bird and Magic, then Jordan. After the Pistons took the throne of the NBA in 89 and 90, the Bulls, or should I say, Jordan, took over.

While we all (and corporations that used players as marketing tools) enjoyed the super-human performances of Jordan, the greatest athlete in NBA history, the NBA The Bulls won the next 6 of 8 titles, and while Jordan took a break from the game, we were tortured with the Rockets/Knicks style of grinding half-court basketball, marking the low-point in recent NBA history. The half-court style propelled the much better Spurs and Lakers to the throne for the next 6 out of 7 years.

By the way, only six teams (Celtics, Lakers, Pistons, Bulls, Spurs, Rockets) have won the championship in 22 years! Add the Sonics, 76ers, Blazers, Bucks, Bullets, Warriors Knicks, and Hawks to that, and you have fourteen teams in 50 years. From 1967 to 1979, eight teams won.

Now that Jordan is gone, and the days of the NBA Center are disappearing, team-basketball is back, and guess what? It’s FUN TO WATCH. The Spurs and Pistons are the best teams in the NBA because their best players make others play better and play with an unselfish attitude. The players are “role-players” with their focus being on the team.

The Bird/Magic years have to be considered the glory days of the NBA, but Steve Nash and the Suns are making the NBA fun again. Players (like Chris Paul) are learning that “being like Steve” makes the game better than “being like Mike.” When I think of being “like Mike,” I think of these guys: Jason Richardson, Vince Carter, Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, Barron Davis, Gilbert Arenas, and Kobe Bryant. All of them are “be like Mike Players.” By the way, players that want to “be like Mike” are probably more motivated by money and corporate endorsements than anything else.

Nash hasn’t “won it all” yet, but he will in the next two years. We have Magic, Bird, and Jordan to thank for making the NBA popular. The future of the NBA will be about players like Steve Nash, and names like Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, Pete Maravich, Earl Monroe, Nate Archibald, and Jerry West (who didn’t have the audience that players do now) will be brought up when talking about Steve Nash, and new “glory days” will be here again!

1 comment:

Phil said...

Yeah. It's clear that the guys are having fun playing ball and get along, despite the uncertainty of Amare's future. They have a mix of guys who are glad to be there, and a leader who distributes the ball to anyone, anywhere, at anytime, all while putting up his onw 26+ points. Some of last night's passes by Nash were absolutely great.

They gotta get to the finals though. Let's get there and see if they can keep things fun.