When the Suns visit Los Angeles at 9 PM tonight, tipping off the Western Conference Finals, there's some real history in play, and the two franchises, especially in recent years, couldn't be more different.
One on side... A team that's been here before and lost. They lost when their best defender had his orbital bone fractured in 2005. They lost when their two of their big men were suspended for leaving the bench. Through the years, the team's dazzled fans in the regular season, but they can never quite win big in the playoffs. They've sold star draft picks (like Rajon Rondo) for cash, and avoided signing pricey free agents to stay under the luxury tax. They don't have the cash.
On the other side... A team with some of the biggest names in basketball. A coach with 10 championships. The most famous NBA player on the planet. A superstar center, and role players making $10 million-a-piece. They've been here before... Each of the last three years, in fact. And they've won 30 conference titles in all. They may take some games off in the regular season, but this team has the pieces in place to win big "when it counts."
Which of those teams sounds more appealing? In case you've ignored the NBA for the past decade, the first tean is Phoenix and the second is L.A. And clearly, given the backstory, the feel-good outcome would be a Lakers loss. But, um, Phil Jackson coaches the Lakers. Which makes tonight's game relevant, because...
PHIL JACKSON'S 46-0 IN PLAYOFF SERIES WHERE HIS TEAM WINS GAME ONE.
Sorry about the caps, but how ridiculous is that stat? And if you're a Suns fan, how terrifying?
So come on, Steve. We're all rooting for you. It's not that the Lakers are the "Evil Empire" or anything. It's just... Well, yeah, they kind of are. So please win game one. It'll make the rest of the series more interesting, and let the whole world know that this year, the Suns actually have a chance. Because they do.*
*(As long they win Game One.)