Phoenix fans have endured some tough times, but none as frustrating as what is occurring this season.
The 122-117 loss two days ago to the Dallas Mavericks has, for all intents and purposes, ended any hopes fans harbored of their Planet Orange making the playoffs.
That failure is puzzling mostly because the Suns were such a competitive team under former coach Mike D’Antoni, the NBA Coach of the Year in 2004-2005 and four-time NBA Western Conference Coach of the Month.
Under D’Antoni, the Suns won 50-plus games four consecutive years including two 60-plus campaigns, three straight Pacific Division crowns and advanced to the Western Conference finals twice.
This year, the team is struggling to a 34-30 record.
So, what happened?
The demise of the Suns might have begun in the spring of 2004 when Robert Sarver bought the team from Jerry Colangelo, the visionary who had built Phoenix from the ground up.
Not long after, General Manager Bryan Colangelo, Jerry’s son, resigned for unexplained reasons. Bryan Colangelo, winner of two NBA Executive of the Year titles, went to Canada where be became GM of the Toronto Raptors.
Eventually, Sarver brought on board former five-time NBA champion Steve Kerr to replace Bryan and also serve as president of basketball operations.
Since, Sarver and Kerr — both graduates of the University of Arizona — seem to have made some questionable basketball decisions including trading Shawn Marion to the Miami Heat for Shaquille O’Neal and failing to sign Joe Johnson three years ago.
Remember Rajan Rondo of the Boston Celtics who torched the Suns a week ago?
Sarver had a chance to sign him, but passed saying the price was too steep.
Sarver’s and Kerr’s Dr. Strangemoves continued when the Suns roster was made over by the trade of Boris Diaw and Raja Bell to Charlotte for Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley.
The turmoil continued when a supposed feud developed that pitted the Kerr-Sarver ownership against D’Antoni
Eventually, D’Antoni parted ways with the Suns to take over the New York Knicks.
His departure meant the end of the Suns’ high-octane offense that made Phoenix one of the most dynamic teams in the NBA.
The Suns hired Terry Porter to replace D’Antoni, but then sent him packing when the players didn’t respond to his coaching style.
Alvin Gentry, a former aide to D’Antoni, took over with very limited success.
So what we have now is a depleted Suns squad without the two Colangelos, Johnson, Marion, Diaw, Bell, D’Antoni and a crowd-pleasing, winning style.
So who is to blame for the setting Suns?
A Sun Devil fan attending the Arizona vs. Arizona State regular season ending basketball game last week in Tempe, believes he has the answer.
He toted a sign saying, “Wildcats, go back to Tucson and take Kerr and Sarver with you.”
Little League needs softball players
More girls are needed to fill teams competing in the Payson Little League 6- to 8-year-old “coach pitch” division and the 9 to 11 years “fast pitch” division.
For more information, call Kerry Johnson at (928) 468-1236.
Also on the Little League agenda, a benefit rummage sale will be held from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., March 21 in the Walmart parking lot.
Those who would like to contribute gently used items for the sale can, or want more information, can log on to Little League’s Web site www.eteamz.com/paysonlittleleague for drop-off details.
Also to earn much-needed funds, league officials will be selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts and raffle tickets, $10 each or three for $25, which has a grand prize of a big-screen television.
Also, anyone wishing to volunteer to help Little League can do so by filling out a volunteer application. Applications are available at National Bank or on the team Web site. A copy of a driver’s license is needed to volunteer.
We invite everyone to come out and support their Little League organization,” local Little League official Jeri Stockman said.
Opening day is April 18 and league officials have planned plenty of activities for young and old alike.
Youth soccer deadline is today
Town Parks and Recreation Sports Coordinator Joseph Harris can’t figure out why the youth spring soccer league is not yet drawing big numbers.
“We had 600 kids last year, but registration is really slow and the deadline is coming up (March 27)” he said. “It’s odd; Payson loves the sport of soccer.”
Once registration wraps up, the league will be divided into school grade divisions including pre-kindergarten/kindergarten (4 to 5 years), first/second, third/fourth, fifth/sixth, seventh/eighth and ninth through 12th.
The entry fee is $25 per player, which includes a British Soccer jersey.
Play begins April 6.
Registration may be completed on the town’s Web site or at Green Valley Park.
Call Harris at (928) 474-5242, ext. 7 for more information.