Tag: Phoenix

National Signing Day Looms Large for Arizona State Football

TEMPE — It’s National Signing Day, when 17 and 18 year old boys decide put their signature where there mouth is. A day where fax machines get their biggest workout of the year and after all is said and done, a ritual as tried and true as any other rears it’s ugly head.

Middle-aged men will be complaining and in some cases cursing these young boys and their families.

It’s disgusting…but it happens, every year.

I get it, they want what is best for their favorite team or Alma Mater, but “C’mon Man,” this is a young man who is in most cases still in high school. The biggest decision that I had to make my senior year was whether to go to Burger King or Pizza Hut for lunch; but I never had somebody twice my age calling me out on social media because I just wasn’t in the mood for a Whopper.

Friday Night Lights

Eno Benjamin Brings Texas Football to Tempe

High school football is king in Texas.

Despite all the Hook ‘Em, Gig ‘Em and whatever inappropriate things said at Baylor, the state of Texas lives and breathes for high school football.

A whopping 46 players on ESPN’s Top 300 hail from the state of Texas with Georgia and California trailing but not close. 15 percent of the country’s top-ranked players call the Lone Star State home and the third best running back from the talent-rich state has already enrolled in Tempe.

Eno Benjamin is from Wylie East High School in Wylie, Texas just outside Dallas and has been one the best recruiters for the Sun Devils.

An early enrollee, Benjamin could not wait to get on campus and arrived in Tempe the day after announcing his commitment at the All-America Bowl.

Benjamin not only excels on the gridiron but also in the classroom, he is in the Barrett Honors College and looking to major in business law.

The Alabama Connection

The top teams stay at the top due to recruiting and the Alabama Crimson Tide is a perfect example.

Despite losing in the National Championship earlier this month to Clemson, Nick Saban and his coaching squad has had a top recruiting class year in and year out. This year is no different, ESPN.com ranks Alabama at the top of the heap with 24 commits including three 5-star and 17 4-star recruits.

By comparison, Arizona State checks in at No. 37 on the same list with six 4-star and 11 3-star recruits. If ever there was a team to emulate, it would be Alabama: and Arizona State is doing just that.

Can Barnett Overtake Manny Wilkins at QB?

It started with wooing quarterback Blake Barnett who played in Bama’s first game of the 2016 season defeating one of Arizona State’s most-hated rivals—the University of Southern California.

Barnett was nearly perfect against the Trojans connecting on 5-of-6 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. After seeing limited playing time, Barnett left Alabama after week four and signed with the Devils in December.

It was originally believed that Barnett would have to sit out the 2017 season but Barnett found out the day before National Signing Day that he would be eligible to play opening day due to an appeal ruling.

Next up on the Alabama hit list was Brandon Ruiz.

The Sun Devils just bid farewell to unanimous All-American kicker Zane Gonzalez and were worried that they would never be able to fill his shoe.

The local product out of Gilbert Williams Field High School would routinely nail 70+ yard field goals and was thus heavily recruited by Nick Saban and Alabama. On June 10th, 2016 Ruiz committed to Alabama…seven months later, he opted to stay true and committed to Arizona State.

Flipping former Alabama players and commits is one thing but the real coup de grace is being able to acquire one of the Crimson Tide’s top recruiters.

Napier Brings Recruiting Clout to Tempe

On Monday, Arizona State announced that Alabama’s Wide Receivers Coach Billy Napier was named Lead Offensive Coordinator. Over the past five years at Alabama, Napier was an integral part of the 2011 and 2015 National Championship teams and coached in the 2016 game.

Prior to his time at Alabama, Napier was the Offensive Coordinator/ Quarterbacks Coach at Clemson under Dabo Swinney.

The 2008 Clemson recruiting class was ranked as the No. 2 class in the country and the 2009 offense set an all-time school record for most points in a season under his tutelage.

 

Bishop Gorman High School

In Nevada, there is only one high school that matters, and it is Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High School. Five of the top six rated players in Nevada are all on the same squad including defensive backs Bubba Bolden and Alex Perry. Bolden had originally committed to Southern Cal but backed out when he learned that his best friend Perry had committed to Arizona State.

Bolden Looks Incredibly Happy Here

In an announcement akin to Snoop Dogg, Jr. committing to UCLA, Bolden re-committed to USC at the All-American Bowl stunning Sun Devil faithful everywhere.

There are still those holding out hope that Graham and company have the clout to flip Bolden to join Perry and Scottsdale Saguaro’s KJ Jarrell, the No. 5 ranked player in Arizona and the No. 28 safety in the country.

If the Devils were to score a coup with flipping Bolden and then he and Perry would go on to perform as expected, it would bode very well for an excellent recruiter like Napier to have a BG pipeline. Imagine the amazing things that the remaining three 4-star recruits from Gorman could have done for Arizona State.

Staying True to ASU

It’s no secret that the “School Down South” has difficulty recruiting when it comes to football. Of the top 20 recruits according to ESPN.com, only three have committed to The University of Arizona. Arizona State on the other hand has been ‘in the mix’ for every top player coming out of Arizona with nine commits from the Grand Canyon State including three of the top five.

Can Jarrell Save This Defense?

The state’s top player, offensive tackle Austin Jackson visited four Pac-12 schools including Oregon, Washington, USC but saved Arizona State for his last official visit on December 2nd. He has kept his selection close to the vest but has since eliminated Oregon from his final three.

Scottsdale’s Saguaro High School had a decent 2016 season.

They dominated each opponent they faced going 14-0 with a phenomenal 183-30 scoring advantage in the 4A State Playoffs and finished the year as the the state’s 2nd ranked team behind 6A State Champion Chandler High School.

In addition to the aforementioned safety, KJ Jarrell, three more of Arizona’s top 20 players are from Saguaro High School and have committed to Arizona State. Offensive guard Corey Stephens, outside linebacker Kyle Soelle and tight end Jared Poplawsksi are all rated as 3-star recruits and will look to maintain the strong pipeline to Arizona State.

Other schools in the southeast Valley are staying true to ASU with the state’s No. 3 and No.4 players coming from Gilbert’s Highland High and Chandler’s Basha High. Both Tyler Johnson and Ryan Kelley are ranked by ESPN as 4-star recruits but only Johnson is listed on ESPN’s Top 300.

The tide is starting to turn, no longer are the top players in the state looking to get away to the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles or the tradition of playing in the SEC or Big Ten. The Sun Devils are on the cusp of greatness and this year’s Signing Day is merely the beginning of something great.

I hope you are along for the ride.

14th Annual Strong Beer Festival Kicks Off Arizona Beer Week

Strong Beer BannerBeer lovers rejoice!

For all ye lovers of  incendiary IPAs, big barleywines, powerful porters and strong stouts, this is your day. Over 100 breweries will be descending on Steele Indian School Park, 300 East Indian School Rd., on February 15 offering close to 500 different beers in which revelers can partake.

The event begins at high noon for V.I.P. ticket holders and 1 p.m. for general admission. Festival goers are urged to take public transportation as safety and responsibility are key tenets of the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild. The Valley Metro light rail stops a couple blocks west of the park at Central and Indian School. There will also be a shuttle running from The Hungry Monk in Chandler to and from the festival provided by Arizona Brewery Tours. Designated driver tickets are also available for $10 for V.I.P. or general admission.

Strong-Beer-Festival1Along with an extra hour to sample the beers, V.I.P. ticket holders will be lavished with several beer-centric gifts including a t-shirt, reserved seating towel, pretzel necklace, $10 food voucher and a meet and greet with the brewers. The reserved V.I.P. section also includes seating and dedicated restrooms. Five additional beer tasting tickets will be issued to V.I.P. ticket holders.

General admission entry starts at 1 p.m. and includes a commemorative 4-oz tasting mug with 15 beer tasting tickets. This festival is like no other, with beers reaching up to 16.8% A.B.V. and several above 10%, you will not have to worry about not having enough tickets.

The two strongest beers of the festival come from The Bruery in Placentia, Calif. According to their website:

Melange #3 is a blend of three bourbon barrel aged strong ales. White Oak Sap, a wheat wine, our Anniversary Series old ale and our imperial stout, Black Tuesday, join forces in this luxurious strong ale that links some of the best characteristics of each of the contributing beers. Chocolate, dark fruits, oaky vanilla and rich toffee-like character reach through the bourbon veneer for an intensely satisfying quaff.

The Melange #3 tops out at 16.8% and the Bourbon barrel aged Bois comes in at 15% A.B.V. Other beers offered by The Bruery are the Sour in the Rye (7.6% A.B.V.) and the Humulus Lager (7.2% A.B.V.).

Local Arizona beers will be the focus of the festival with many breweries making their first festival appearance. The state can be very proud of its 38 breweries as well as three franchises of corporate brewhouses. Local breweries from Lake Havasu City to Tucson, tiny Pine to behemoth Phoenix and 17 cities throughout the state.

The cities of Phoenix and Tucson will both have the most representation with six breweries each while Flagstaff will have five and Tempe will bring four to the party. Scottsdale (three) and Lake Havasu City (two) will also be represented by multiple breweries. Eleven more breweries will be the sole representative of their cities including Ahwatukee, Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Peoria, Pine, Pinetop, Prescott, Prescott Valley, Sedona and Williams.  Life is good for the Arizona craft beer drinker.

Even though this is the kickoff event for Arizona Beer Week, several national favorite breweries will also be offering strong beers that are rarely, if ever, seen in these parts. Some notable beers include:

  • az-beer-weekBell’s Brewery Black Note – 11.5% A.B.V.
  • Big Sky Brewing Ivan Imperial Stout – 12% A.B.V.
  • Breckenridge Brewery Barleywine – 10% A.B.V.
  • Dogfish Head Brewery Theobrama Chocolate Ale – 9% A.B.V.
  • Great Divide Brewing Peach Grand Cru – 12.2% A.B.V.
  • Lagunitas Brewing Hairy Eyeball – 9.4% A.B.V.
  • New Belgium Clutch Dark Sour – 9% A.B.V.
  • Sierra Nevada Brewing Narwhal Imperial Stout – 10.2% A.B.V.

International breweries will also be in attendance including Belgium’s Brouwerij Van Steenberge/Brouwerij Bavik bringing their Gulden Draak (10.5% A.B.V.), Piraat Triple Hop (10.5% A.B.V.) and their Belgian Double Cherry Ale, Petrus Aged Red (8.5% A.B.V.). The Gouden Carolus/Het Anker Brewery, also from Belgium will have their Grand Cuvee van de Keizer (11% A.B.V.), a Belgian Strong Ale.

Hofbrau from Germany will have their Original Lager and Hefeweizen if the Oktoberfest spirit strikes and you are in the mood for an easy-drinking beer, both coming in at only 5% A.B.V. Canada brings us Hop City Brewing with their Barking Squirrel and Mr. Puff Pale Ale. Howe Sound Brewing has some interesting beers in Total Eclipse of the Hop Imperial I.P.A. and Three Beavers Imperial Red Ale.

homebrewers-association-logoThe festival is a rain or shine event and runs until 5 p.m. with last pout at 4:45 p.m. but many brewers will run out so prepare to arrive early. This is a 21 and over event with valid ID required for admission.  and There will be several food booths with beer-related food for purchase and complimentary bottled water will be available for all festival goers, so outside food and drink (other than pretzel necklaces) will be prohibited. No pets, weapons or backpacks will be allowed at the festival so do yourself a favor and leave them at home.

Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate if they are still available. Go here to purchase tickets before they are all gone!

Why the Coyotes Are the Rodney Dangerfield of the NHL

dangerfield

The Phoenix Coyotes are coming off their best season ever, including their first Pacific Division Championship and Western Conference Finals appearance. Why is it that the good people at NBC Sports and the NHL Network selected so few of their games to be televised?

The answer is clear—no respect.

Of the 48 games this season, only five will be nationally televised. Additionally, three of the five games feature two of the “Original Six” teams in the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings.

It is no secret that hockey fans in those cities are more passionate about their teams than most people are about their own children, but that is not the fault of your typical hockey fan in Phoenix or the state of Arizona for that matter.

The metropolitan Phoenix area or “The Valley of the Sun” as it is called by its four million-plus residents is a haven for those that eschew the snowstorms, the black ice and everything that comes with the foreign concept of winter.

The Past

 The story of the Phoenix Coyotes is tumultuous at best, with everything from bankruptcy to the “Great One” himself getting involved in an attempt to turn things around. Since the relocation of the Winnipeg Jets to Phoenix in 1996, there has yet to be a devoted fan base akin to that of the “Original Six” despite reaching the playoffs in five of the their first six seasons in the desert.
With several ownership issues and seven straight seasons of missing the playoffs, the franchise looked doomed. In September, 2009, Dave Tippett became the new coach and they made the playoffs for two straight years, but like the five trips before, they never escaped the first round.

The following season saw the Coyotes go undefeated in February and they finished the 2011-12 season with three straight wins and their first Pacific Division Championship.

After losing two straight years to the Detroit Red Wings in the first round, the Coyotes faced another familiar foe, the Chicago Blackhawks. After beating the Blackhawks in six and the Nashville Predators in five games, they advanced to their first ever Western Conference Finals.

The Coyotes looked tired and lost in five games to eventual Stanley Cup Champions,Los Angeles Kings.

The Future

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The lockout is over, the team practiced in front of fans for the first time on Sunday and training camp began on Monday. There was a scrimmage on Wednesday night that was free to the public and the first game is Saturday in Dallas.

The home opener will be against their first round opponent from the 2012 playoffs, Chicago Blackhawks at 8pm. Their home schedule in January also includes Nashville and Los Angeles, whom the Coyotes met in their 2012 playoff run.

New additions to the Coyotes for the 2013 season will be Steve Sullivan, David Moos, Zbynek Michaelek and Nick Johnson. Sullivan is a journeyman winger that has played for six NHL teams and thrives on power play goals, an area where Phoenix suffers. Moos is coming off an injury and hasn’t played since last November when he was on the Calgary Flames.

Zbynek was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins via a trade in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and is a solid defenseman that played for five seasons with the Coyotes from 2004-2009. Johnson comes over from the Minnesota Wild and is hoping for a spot on the third or fourth line.

Also returning for another stint with the Coyotes is Center Matthew Lombardi. Lombardi was acquired on Wednesday from the Toronto Maple Leafs for a fourth-round pick.

“I’m super excited,” Lombardi said. “I never wanted to leave in the first place, so it’s a great opportunity.”

General Manager Don Maloney also recalled four players from the AHL affiliate, Portland Pirates. Defensemen Michael Stone and David Rundblad were re-signed as well as forwards Alexandre Bolduc and Andy Miele.

All four players had played at some point for the Coyotes last season and Stone gained valuable playoff time as well.

Who knows what the new season holds for the Phoenix Coyotes, but with Dave Tippett at the helm, it could only mean good things. Tippett has taken the team to new heights with three straight winning seasons and its highest three year stretch averaging 101 points.

The team’s leader in points and assists, Ray Whitney is gone to Dallas but Shane Doan, Radim Vrbata and all your favorite Desert Dogs will return to Jobing.com arena—just not to your TV set.

Red, White & You – Top 10 Fireworks Shows in Arizona

This country was founded on the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of a great fireworks spectacular! Here is a list of the best of what the state has to offer, and remember don’t try this at home as fireworks are illegal in the state of Arizona and my buddy Roger Clyne said it best “Everybody knows that the world is full of stupid people.”
July 3rd     Independence Day Music Festival    Salt River Fields    Scottsdale

Country music superstar Miranda Lambert brings her beautiful voice and body to Scottsdale for an Independence Day spectacular sure to delight the entire family with a pre-party starting at 3pm and concert gates opening at 5:00; boasting the Valley’s largest fireworks show. Miranda Lambert is the reigning Queen of Country music with all four of her albums going platinum and has been awarded Female Vocalist of the Year from both the Country Music Association & Academy of Country Music. If her music accolades were not enough, she was also named one of People magazine’s Most Beautiful People & Maxim’s Hottest Women of Country. Joining Miranda will be a flashback name from the 90’s – Darius Rucker, former front-man for Hootie & the Blowfish. In 2008, Rucker released Learn to Live on Capitol Records Nashville and it was a smash with 3 number one singles. Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, I assume that country music has always been a part of him.

July 3rd     Red, White & Boom Community Fireworks    Ahwatukee Country Club
The Ahwatukee Red, White & Boom Festival is a FREE family event located at the Ahwatukee Country Club, 12432 South 48th Street, Phoenix on July 3 from 3-10 p.m. This year, festival goers can look forward to the bright lights of patriotism in an environment overflowing with family friendly activities, entertainment, food, beer, wine and local vendors showcasing their products. On hand will be a Kid’s Water Zone, a Hot Dog Eating Contest, over 40 vendors with food, beverages, beer, wine and more! Live entertainment will be provided by Arizona native & rising star Casey Lee Smith from 3-5pm, a singing competition opened to everybody Ahwatukee Idol from 5-6pm and Radio Disney Rockin’ Road Show from 6-9 p.m. The Radio Disney Road Crew will keep the party hopping with music, interactive games and prizes all centered on family friendly fun as they count the night down until it’s time for fireworks at 9 p.m.

July 4th     A Star Spangled Spectacular     Arizona Pavilions     Marana
The metropolitan Tucson area has grown so much and while the traditional fireworks display at the Tucson Convention Center will still be going on, the City of Marana has put together quite the event in the northwest corner of the city. With festivities beginning at 6pm, the Quarry Pines Golf Club will have a live blues band, jumping castles for the kids, a beer garden for the adults, grass seating, ice cream and a food court for everybody! Food and beer to be provided by Nana’s Kitchen and Native New Yorker with great beer specials. Down the road at Crossroads at Silverbell Park, they will be screening a movie after dark and will also have plenty of youth activities, games and concessions. Both places will have a great vantage point to see the fireworks spectacular that starts at 9pm.

July 4th     A Star Spangled Shoot-Out    Rawhide Western Town    Chandler

Rawhide Western Town

One of my favorite places in the Valley is Rawhide Western Town & Steakhouse. I loved it when they were up in North Scottsdale, but since they made the move down south to the Gila River Indian Reservation, it is so much better! This year’s celebration has it all including cowboys, gunfights, food, fun, family and fireworks! Attractions & Entertainment include live music throughout town, a strolling balloon artist for kids (and adults), action packed performances and an incredible aerial fireworks display. The $10 admission charge includes all attractions as well as the fireworks display. Military and Gila River Indian Community members receive a dollar off admission and children 5 and under are free.

July 4th     Celebration in the Pines     Green Valley Park     Payson
If you are looking to escape the heat of the Valley or Tucson, head on up to the cool pines of Payson. Voted the Best Small Town in Arizona and nestled along the majestic Mogollon Rim – Payson, Arizona comes alive in patriotic colors during its 4th of July Celebration. Be sure to bring your chairs, a picnic basket and blanket, or grab some food from one of the vendors that will be on hand and enjoy a day of fun. The fireworks show & games are all FREE to the public. Beginning at 1pm, there will be games for the kids including sack races, egg toss and the almighty tug of war. Live music will be provided by Phoenix rock/folk band the Technicolors from 7-9pm when the fireworks will take center stage sky. A free shuttle service will run from Payson High School to Green Valley Park. The busses will begin at 5:30 pm and after the show they will return you to the school.

July 4th     Flagstaff Fourth     Several Locations     Flagstaff

Flagstaff has always been a little different than the rest of the state and their Independence Day celebration is no different. The entire city celebrates the Fourth at different areas throughout the day. Beginning at 9am in downtown Flagstaff is the 16th Annual 4th of July Parade with over 100 entries. At noon, be sure to head over to Wheeler Park for an entire day of food, music & family fun including four bands, a food court, jumping castles and crafts for the kids. If you are so inclined, at 3:30 pm the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra will be at the Pepsi Amphitheater in Fort Tuthill, so bring your lawn chairs & blankets and enjoy a stirring, celebratory red, white & blue concert. Once the sun starts setting, it is time for fireworks! The Flagstaff Mall and Marketplace in conjunction with the City of Flagstaff present a Fire-Safe Fireworks show at 9pm but encourage you to show up early to pick out your spot.

July 4th     Tempe Town Lake Festival     Tempe Beach Park     Tempe

Fireworks from Mill Ave. Bridge

Along the picturesque Tempe Town Lake just north of downtown Tempe will be giant fireworks spectacular. Pre-sale tickets are $5 and can be purchased at Fry’s Food stores throughout the Valley. Day of tickets will be $8 each or 2 for $15, military members with valid ID and children 12 and under are FREE. For those looking to make a lovely evening out of it, there is the Sally’s B-B-Q VIP Garden. Tickets are $60 and include a seat witha great view of the show, an awesome dinner of either pulled pork or chicken sandwich with beans, chips, fruit and a chocolate pretzel wand. Two drink tickets are also included and can be redeemed for beer, soda or water. The gates open at 5pm and their will be ton of things for everybody in the family to do. There will be an area called the Family Fun Fest which will offer a FREE inflatable village, not just a jumping castle here and there but an entire village! Also in the area will be a variety of rides, a rock climbing wall, face painting, relay races and many other specialty entertainment items including the Splash Playground. A food court will also be on hand with favorites like dogs, burgers, Macayo’s Mexican food, roasted corn, fry bread, snow cones & ice cream. For those looking for an adult beverage, fret not, there will also be a beer garden to cool you down. Live music will be provided by five bands running the gamut from folk to reggae before and after the fireworks show. The Color Guard from Luke Air Force Base will also be on hand for a ceremonial presentation of the colors and a patriotic F-16 flyover at 7:30 pm and the fireworks begin around 9:20pm.

July 4th     Fabulous Phoenix 4th     Steele Indian School Park Park     Phoenix
The state’s most widely attended festival is aptly held in the heart of the state, downtown in the capitol city of Phoenix at Steele Indian School Park at 3rd Street & Indian School. If you are looking for a truly family oriented festival where no alcohol will be allowed or served, this free event that runs from 6 to 10 p.m. is right up your alley. Featuring three stages of live local entertainment, free inflatable rides and activities in the Kids Zone, Classic Car exhibit, a “Hurricane Beach” area where participants can cool off, and a spectacular Patriotic Program complete with an F-16 flyover. The fireworks display begins at 9:30 p.m. Visitors also can purchase food from more than 50 food and beverage vendors, and enjoy free community information booths and displays. Make sure to bring your lawn chairs or blankets for lawn seating. You are permitted to bring coolers with food and non-alcoholic beverages, but make sure to leave the glass containers at home. The lake and dog park will be closed for the event so no fishing or pets will be allowed.

July 4th     Tucson’s ‘A’ Mountain Fireworks     Tucson Convention Center     Tucson

It was rumored that the annual traditional fireworks display on Tucson’s ‘A’ mountain put on by the City of Tucson was going away. Thankfully, for many Tucsonans, the free show will go on as scheduled. In the past, thousands have descended upon the Tucson Convention Center for a great view of the spectacular. This year, there will be many food vendors, a beer garden and the Southern Arizona Mustang Club will have a classic car show.

July 4th     All American Festival     Peoria Sports Complex     Peoria

Peoria Sports Complex

This one sounds like a blast for those on the Northwest side of the Valley of the Sun. There will be three stages of music; Chevellon on the Country stage, Vintage Rocket on the Rock stage and Radio Disney on the Kid’s Stage. There will also be two water zones of refreshing fun including a snow slide with 12 tons of snow! For the adventurous types, there will be zip-lining and a mechanical bull for you to try. Just when you thought that was all, there is also inflatables, face painting and a rock wall for the kids and Sonic will be sponsoring a foot-long hot dog eating contest. Concessions and beer will be available for purchase or you can bring a cooler with food and/or non-alcoholic beverages. It will be first come, first serve festival seating on the grass so bring your lawn chairs and blankets but leave any portable canopies at home and be marveled by an F-16 flyover at 7pm and the fireworks around 9:15pm. Admission is only $5 for those 13 years and older,12 and under are FREE.

A Real Phoenix is Needed Now

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After yet another disappointing season for the Suns in 2012, it was disheartening to see all the past Suns players that were in the playoffs, but wearing different uniforms and I couldn’t help to wonder, what if? What if the likes of Amaré Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Shawn Marion, Leandro Barbosa, Lou Amundson, Jason & ‘Q’ Richardson were on the same roster as Steve Nash? They would have the same troubles that have plagued them since 1994 – no big man underneath. The Suns style of play has long been the “Run & Gun” a high octane offense that relies on quickness and adept shooting from beyond the arc. The Suns adapted the run & gun into the “Fun & Gun” as they were having a good time while winning numerous games along the way which made games in downtown Phoenix a “must do” for the Valley’s elite looking to see & be seen. Unfortunately, as in every sport, defense wins games and the Suns have had serious gaps in forcing turnovers and pounding the glass for rebounds.

The historical Phoenix is a bird who near the end of his life cycle would build a nest and then spontaneously combust fiercely burning the bird & nest leaving behind nothing but ashes. The new Phoenix rises from the ashes to live again and rebuild its life. If all that I have been hearing is true with Steve Nash not coming back to the Suns next season, then suffice to say that Robert Sarver better start looking for some twigs to build that nest. There are a couple bright spots on the roster so there is no need to completely gut the roster and start from square one; just as the Phoenix takes on the traits from its former self, the team moving into the future needs to keep the basic tenets of the “run & gun” style offense and focus more on a defensive style of game. That means either getting current centers Marcin Gortat & Robin Lopez on the Bill Laimbeer diet or going out to get tough, gritty & perhaps dirty players that will gut it out in the trenches, pound the boards and maybe throw an elbow or two to assert their dominance on the court.

Valley sports fans are a fickle bunch. I remember my high school days in the mid 80’s when I was a ball boy for the Suns and they were playing to some of the smallest crowds in the NBA, although being only a couple years removed from their first appearance in the NBA Finals. I can hear the rumbling over the past couple years, first with the strike and only reaching the playoffs once in the past 4 years, the Phoenix Suns need to ignite & be reborn before they lose their fan base for good.