The Suns have dubbed their Dec. 6 game against Dallas as “Satisfaction Guarantee Night.” If you don’t have a great time watching Phoenix attempt like the dickens to beat the Mavericks, you can simply saunter up to the ticket window and ask for your money back.
Good thinking here. The Suns are in the middle of a nasty Eastern road trip “guaranteed” not to end well, having just been beaten by 40 by a Detroit team that wins once every two weeks. Sunday’s game in New York against a Knicks team that’s undefeated at Madison Square Garden? Yikes.
Considering they can’t count on the team to create a buzz and considering Bruce Springsteen will be over in Glendale on Dec. 6, rocking the house and taking a huge bite out of the walk-up sales that the Suns now count on to fill the building beyond the halfway point, the date is strategic.
But “guaranteed fun” is dicey. The Suns could guarantee fans a 15-point deficit in the first half, but that happens at just about every home game. They could guarantee Michael Beasley will miss five of his first six shots and find his feet nailed to the floor on defense a half-dozen times, but again that’s been par for the course.
How about picking a fan to select the starting lineup for the game? Or just put all the names in a hat and the first five that are picked head out for the opening tip. Alvin Gentry hasn’t resorted to this idea yet, but after reshuffling the deck once already, he might be getting close.
Seven Apologies or Less
In an interview with ESPN.com, Mike D’Antoni came clean and admitted (1) It was his decision to bolt Phoenix for New York and $24 million of Cablevision money in the summer of 2008 and (2) It was the worst decision he ever made.
Phoenix had one more unlikely run to the Western Conference finals in 2010, but D’Antoni’s departure was the end of a Suns era – one that truly began with the Shaquille O’Neal-Shawn Marion trade. It robbed fans of three more years of fun Phoenix basketball – now there was a guarantee – and the painfully slow but systematic dismantling of Planet Orange.
D’Antoni is back in the game, given a chance to lead the Lakers to a championship. The Suns' road back to elite status appears much longer and tougher – something no one has apologized to the fans for yet.
A Stern Reaction
The NBA has to protect its brand and fans that pay ridiculous amounts of money to watch meaningless NBA games in November. But give Spurs coach Gregg Popovich four games in five nights and a chance to embarrass the league on national television – and the result in more certain than a Tim Duncan bank shot (or, if it’s against the Suns, a 3-pointer.)
Popovich sat Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, along with reserve Danny Green, for Thursday’s game in Miami. This was much to the chagrin of a full house soaked with money by Miami’s tiered pricing system and a TNT audience. The reasoning was simple and planned months ago: Pop’s regulars had mopped the floor with the Raptors, Wizards and Magic over a four-day period and saw little reason to put more miles on his veterans with Memphis waiting back home on Saturday.
Never mind that there were no sanctions from the NBA last year when teams routinely sat out aging stars (Steve Nash and Grant Hill were regular rest candidates) when the league decided to shoehorn 66 games into four months of a lockout season. Never mind that the remaining Spurs came within a whisker of beating LeBron James and the Heat – who, by all accounts, were present for the game.
Popovich sinned. His team will pay a $250,000 fine for it, and both sides will have gotten what they wanted: the NBA gets a pound of flesh and the Spurs saved their guys for down the road.
Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.