The Bond of Suns Fans, Young and Old
One of my favorite things in this world is playing basketball outdoors in the sizzling Phoenix sun.
Yes, it’s ridiculously hot. That goes without saying. But it’s also a form of therapy for me – almost like active meditation. No matter what’s going on in my life – good or bad – that court is my home.
But I’ll always associate the “court” with the Phoenix Suns. It’s been that way since I first moved to Phoenix when I was just six-years-old. Growing up in the desert made spending hours upon hours in the harsh sun relatively normal.
I’d put on my Kevin Johnson or Richard Dumas jersey (the one with the sunburst), grab a water bottle and soak up the Arizona sunlight for hours as I pretended to be on the Suns’ home floor at the then-named America West Arena.
I even painted the hoop’s pole purple along with lane lines in my driveway to resemble the dimensions of a basketball court. Looking back, they were painfully far from being close to scale. To this day, those purple lines are still sprawled across the driveway of my old house. Either the new owners are Suns fans or it is a physical impossibility to remove them. I’m going with the former.
Nearly 25 years later, not much has changed. Instead of having my own hoop, there’s one in my neighborhood that I frequent on a weekly basis. I still play basketball outdoors in the 110-degree-plus weather and still sweat profusely while doing so. Just like when I was a child, I’m usually the only one foolish enough to willingly be outdoors. Unfortunately, I’m not able to paint purple lane lines on the cement – my homeowner’s association would absolutely freak out.
Recently, however, there was someone else crazy enough to want to hoop in this weather. Perhaps more surprising, he looked like a carbon-copy of myself when I was his age. He was decked out in the full Suns ensemble – purple jersey, orange shorts, a fitted cap (with the brand new logo) and purple and orange kicks.
He cautiously walked up to the hoop, began shooting and didn’t say a word.
“You a Suns fan?” I asked after a few minutes, sensing he was shy.
“Yes,” he reticently replied. “I have been all of my life.”
“Me, too,” I said while pointing to my shirt with an old-school Suns logo.
I shot him a quick nod of approval which created an instant, silent bond.
“That’s me 25 years ago,” I thought to myself. “I guess some things never change.”
If time travel existed, you could’ve taken that kid out of the present day and supplanted him back in 1993 without anyone noticing a difference (okay, minus the updated logos).
Think of everything that has happened within the Suns organization (and the world in general) over the past two decades. Think of the changes. The wins. The losses. The triumphs. The heartbreak.
Yet, like myself 25 years ago, here’s a kid who loves the sport of basketball and the Suns enough to consciously risk heat exhaustion.
In a tangible way, my chance encounter with the young child on the basketball court personified the blending of the old with the new – something infinitely easier said than done. In this case, it goes far beyond logos and jerseys; it’s the natural, unforced integration of a new generation of Suns fans with those of us who have followed the team for decades.
Everyone has their own “basketball story” or “Suns story.” Still, seeing a parallel one repeat itself over multiple decades for the same team is, in a word, special.
That’s Suns fandom in a nutshell.
What's your "Suns story?"