azcentral sports’ Jay Dieffenbach and Doug Haller discuss how Boston Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas has become one of the best players in the NBA and who the Suns want in the NBA draft.
1 of 35
azcentral sports’ Jay Dieffenbach and Dan Bickley discuss the Rockets’ explosion against the Spurs and a possible pitching implosion for the Diamondbacks.
2 of 35
The Suns are guaranteed to have a Top 5 NBA draft pick. Here are some players they could take.
3 of 35
azcentral sports’ Jay Dieffenbach and Dan Bickley discuss Kevin Durant and the Warriors as well as Zack Greinke’s start against the Padres.
4 of 35
Several former Phoenix Suns players are in the NBA playoffs.
5 of 35
Take a look at the Suns players that have guaranteed contracts for next season.
6 of 35
Suns coach Earl Watson takes questions from the press at an end-of-season gathering at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. Tom Tingle/azcentral sports
7 of 35
Suns guard Devin Booker discusses the 2016-17 season and how his team can improve throughout the offseason on Wednesday at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Video by Tom Tingle/azcentral sports
8 of 35
Doug Haller sums up interviews with Phoenix Suns management and players at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. || Tom Tingle/azcentral sports
9 of 35
Breaking down the top five moments in Suns guard Devin Booker’s season.
10 of 35
Jay Dieffenbach and Dan Bickley disagree on the NBA MVP and share their thoughts on the D-Backs’ hot start.
11 of 35
Phoenix Suns’ Dragan Bender talks about the team’s win over the Dallas Mavericks in the last home game of the season, April 9, 2017. (Doug Haller/azcentral sports)
12 of 35
Suns guard Devin Booker on why the Suns didn’t want Russell Westbrook to get a triple-double on their home floor.
13 of 35
Thunder guard Russell Westbrook entered Phoenix on pace to average a triple-double for the season.
14 of 35
Warriors star Stephen Curry talks about Wednesday’s win over the Suns.
15 of 35
USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick discusses the struggles plaguing the defending champions.
USA TODAY Sports
16 of 35
Suns guard Devin Booker discusses earning respect from officials and his early aggressiveness in a loss to the Clippers on Thursday at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Doug Haller/azcentral sports
17 of 35
The arguments for and against Rockets star James Harden winning the MVP award.
USA TODAY Sports
18 of 35
Ball and Fultz are two of the top prospects for the 2017 NBA draft.
USA TODAY Sports
19 of 35
Suns forward Jared Dudley discusses the Suns’ winless road trip after a loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday. Doug Haller/azcentral sports
20 of 35
A look at how far NBA players once made it in the NCAA tournament.
USA TODAY Sports
21 of 35
In the latest NBA Power Rankings, the Warriors are rolling, even without Kevin Durant. Meantime, the Clippers are struggling at the wrong time and the Nets are playing their best hoops of the season.
22 of 35
Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker talks about his team’s loss against the Charlotte Hornets, March 26, 2017. (Doug Haller/azcentral sports)
23 of 35
Suns guard Devin Booker discusses his 70-point game against the Boston Celtics.
24 of 35
Suns coach Earl Watson discusses his team’s shortage of players and how that is starting to weigh on them after Thursday’s loss to the Nets in Brooklyn. Doug Haller/azcentral sports
25 of 35
Suns forward Jared Dudley discusses recent team injuries and how that impacts a team resting a few star players, following Tuesday’s loss to the Miami Heat. Doug Haller/azcentral sports
26 of 35
Dan Bickley and Mark Faller discuss the Indiana job opening, which could pull Steve Alford away from UCLA, and whether the Bruins would pursue Suns’ head coach Earl Watson. Video: azcentral sports
27 of 35
NBA players who have tallied the most points, assists, rebounds, blocks and steals in a single game this season.
USA TODAY Sports
28 of 35
In this week’s NBA Power Rankings, Russell Westbrook is leading the Thunder to a strong finish in the regular season.
29 of 35
Suns point guard Tyler Ulis reacts to Friday’s home loss to the Magic.
30 of 35
Kent Somers and Jay Dieffenbach discuss the Suns’ decision to shut down Eric Bledsoe for the season and the possibility of them getting UCLA’s Lonzo Ball? Video: azcentral sports
31 of 35
USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick tells us why the Spurs will be hard-pressed to secure the top seed in the Western Conference.
USA TODAY Sports
32 of 35
HoopsHype writer Alex Kennedy discusses some of the players who will be free agents this summer.
USA TODAY Sports
33 of 35
Phoenix Suns center Alan Williams watches his mother, Jeri Williams, sworn in as Phoenix police chief in Chesapeake Energy Arena. (Paul Coro/azcentral sports)
34 of 35
Hosted by head coach Earl Watson, who says the Suns “embrace and celebrate our youth.” Video: Phoenix Suns
35 of 35
Shot Clock: Ex-Suns player Isaiah Thomas shines
Shot Clock: Rockets sizzle, D-Backs fizzle?
NBA mock drafts: Popular picks for Phoenix Suns
Shot Clock: Kevin Durant closer to a ring
Familiar faces: Notable former Suns in NBA playoffs
Notable Suns player salaries for 2017-18
Suns coach Watson wraps up season at press conference
Devin Booker: ‘I want to be a winner’
Doug Haller wraps up Suns’ 2016-17 season
Top 5 Devin Booker moments of 2016-17 season
Shot Clock: NBA MVP and surprising D-Backs
Dragan Bender on Suns win over Mavericks
Booker on Westbrook’s triple-double search: ‘Just didn’t want it to be here’
Russell Westbrook chases history
Stephen Curry on win over Suns
Cavaliers are struggling in a major way
Devin Booker on Suns loss to Clippers
James Harden for MVP: Pros and Cons
Lonzo Ball vs. Markelle Fultz: Tale of the tape
Jared Dudley on Suns loss to Hawks
How far NBA players made it in NCAA tournament
NBA Power Rankings: Warriors surging ahead of playoffs
Devin Booker on Suns’ fall to Hornets
Devin Booker on his 70-point night
Earl Watson after Suns’ loss to Nets
Jared Dudley on Suns’ loss to Heat
Shot Clock: Would Earl Watson leave the Suns if the UCLA job were to open up?
NBA’s best statistical performances so far in 2016-17
NBA Power Rankings: Russell Westbrook continues to carry Thunder
Tyler Ulis on Suns’ loss to Magic
Shot Clock: Eric Bledsoe is out, maybe UCLA’s Lonzo Ball is in?
Why the Spurs desperately need the No. 1 seed
Big-name free agents this summer
Alan Williams watching his mother’s police chief ceremony
Suns ’embrace youth’ in WeArePHX ‘Momentum’ video
Suns fans are proud, patient and loyal. They love Al McCoy, the Gorilla and a bountiful history that spans nearly five decades. They are also victims of a longstanding persecution complex, highly susceptible to conspiracy theories that continue to dog the NBA.
With the draft lottery just around the corner, it’s time for the suspicions to stop. Or maybe you should find another sport.
“I have confidence in the system,” former Suns owner Jerry Colangelo said. “I think it’s transparent. There will always be speculation about conspiracies because that’s human nature. But I can tell you, when it comes to the NBA, there’s nothing to it.”
That won’t slow down the current skepticism, especially after comments from Lakers coach Luke Walton. Los Angeles finished with the third-worst record in the NBA, behind the Suns and the Nets (whose No. 1 pick belongs to the Celtics). If the Lakers drops below third in Tuesday’s lottery, their pick will belong to the 76ers.
For some reason, Walton isn’t the least bit worried about losing the pick.
“Magic (Johnson) has already assured me that we’re going to get our top-three pick this year, so I’m excited about that,” Walton said during a radio interview with CBS Sports. “We don’t know who the pick is yet, but I was just happy to know we’re getting the pick. That’s good enough for me now.”
POINT GUARD: Can Suns find point guard of the future in the daft?
Walton’s hubris has raised many red flags, reinforcing what many Valley fans fear about the NBA, the only professional sports league to have its credibility questioned to the point of felonious behavior.
To this day, far too many fans believe that a frozen envelope was deployed to resuscitate the Knicks, who ended up drafting Georgetown star Patrick Ewing; that Michael Jordan was actually banned from the league for his gambling habits; that allegations of a rogue referee, Tim Donaghy, was proof of a league that routinely fixes its outcomes, feeding the bottom line by helping big-market teams.
Faith in fair competition is a scare commodity these days. Our current president routinely tweets about a rigged system in American government. Why should the NBA be any different?
It sounds so awful, and somebody help us if Walton’s prediction comes true and the Suns fall in the draft lottery. Especially after watching our NHL team drop to seventh in the 2017 NHL draft, after the Coyotes were aced out on generational talents like Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews in the previous two seasons.
NBA DRAFT: Lottery odds – Suns No. 2, Lakers No. 3
The distrust goes even deeper among Suns fans. They watched a referee, Richie Powers, compromise the 1976 NBA Finals for taking the law into his own hands, refusing to call an obvious technical foul against the Celtics. They endured the heavy-handed actions of former NBA Commissioner David Stern, who cost the franchise its best chance at a NBA championship by suspending Boris Diaw and Amar’e Stoudemire, who left the bench to defend an assaulted teammate. This is why McCoy and a legion of Suns fans can barely hide their disdain for the NBA and its officials.
Colangelo also understands. When he came to Phoenix in 1968, the expansion Suns lost a coin flip to the Bucks for the right to draft Lew Alcindor, who changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and scored over 38,000 points in his Hall of Fame career.
“Walter Kennedy was going to do the coin flip in his New York offices,” Colangelo said. “The ownership group for the Bucks were in Milwaukee. We were in Phoenix. They were going to use a (John F.) Kennedy half dollar coin. We ran a contest in the paper asking fans for their advice, and 51.2 percent voted for heads. So we voted heads.
“So imagine that coin flipping over and over in the air. It landed in Kennedy’s palm with heads facing up. We win. But then he flipped it over on the back of his other hand, and the end result was tails. And that little gesture changed the course of history.”
The NBA is full of these strange stories. Like Dikembe Mutombo congratulating the 76ers on winning the draft lottery before it actually happened. Like Cleveland bucking the odds and winning all those draft lotteries. Like the avalanche of free throws the Lakers shot in a Game 7 against the Kings, and all those free throws Charles Barkley attempted for the Suns in a Game 7 against Seattle. And the omnipotent attitude of Stern didn’t help matters, a commissioner who flaunted his power to the point of recklessness.
But there’s a long bridge between circumstance and criminality, and the NBA isn’t as guilty as you think. For all the despair and circumstantial evidence, Colangelo doesn’t suspect an ounce of foul play. As a reporter who covered Jordan for nearly a decade, I can attest that he was burned out on basketball, angry at fame, angry at teammates, and devastated by his father’s death. His retirement had nothing to do with gambling.
The NBA isn’t a scam or a con. The draft lottery isn’t rigged. The competition is real and the best players usually prevail.
But for the sake of new boss Adam Silver and the image of the NBA, we can all agree on this: The Lakers better not win the lottery at our expense.
MORE FROM BICKLEY