Suns Retorter: Channing Frye, Sportsman of the Year

Choosing a Sportsman of the Year is kind of like asking a parent to choose their favorite child. It’s unfair because, no matter who you are a fan of, you will always have room for more than one in your heart. That is unless you’re a Kardashian, then no one is a winner.

While the foremost authorities on selecting the top sportsmen are Sports Illustrated and the Associate Press, they aren’t infallible. In fact, this year, they were extremely fallible.

The AP selected LeBron James. Sure, he’s the King and all, but the selection is so 2012. All he did in 2013 was repeat what he did the year before. As television has taught us, a rerun is something you skip past to see something you’ve never watched before.

Sports Illustrated didn’t fair much better. They went with Peyton Manning. Yes, he set NFL passing records this year but being the Sportsman of the Year is about off the playing surface too. Can you really be held above everyone else in sports when you’re featured in pizza commercials that make Vince Vaughn’s films look Oscar worthy? The answer is simply, no.

As you probably have already guessed, this is all leading up to my own selection for Sportsman of the Year that, yes, has a Suns tie.

If Channing Frye isn’t at the top of your list, you just didn’t watch sports closely enough in 2013.

The man spent the first half of the year battling a heart virus that could have at worst led to his ultimate demise and, many thought, at best led to the end of his NBA career.

Fast forward to September. The Suns had a new coach, new general manager, new roster and Frye still had the same old health issue. He had yet to be cleared to return to basketball activity let alone to play in a game and question marks remained about his future.

When media day rolled around, good news came with it. Frye had been cleared to return to the court. What that meant exactly though, was anyone’s guess. Head coach Jeff Hornacek and General Manager Ryan McDonough believed they wouldn’t see the stretch four from Arizona play meaningful minutes until December at the earliest and expected, rightfully so, that he would be limited in training camp.

To the surprise of everyone, including himself, Frye fully participated in training camp in the high altitude of Flagstaff. Then he played meaningful minutes in preseason and lo and behold, against worse odds than avoiding spoilers to the finale of Breaking Bad, he was the starting power forward for the team on opening night.

Since then, the veteran forward has been just what the doctor, or Jeff Hornacek, order for the offense. He’s stretched the floor by hitting 40 percent of his threes and opening the lanes for the team’s two-headed point guard monster of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic. He’s provided leadership for a team that lacked major NBA experience and has averaged 10.9 points and 5.5 rebounds a game.

It’s a story almost too good to be true. A good guy gets a bad deal, works hard, beats the odds and comes back to help his team defy expectations. If you told someone that was the synopsis of a new film Disney just greenlit for production they wouldn’t even bat an eye.

But it’s better than fiction, it’s real life for Channing Frye. It’s also a story worth national recognition. That’s because, it may be difficult to pick your favorite child, but this story makes it extremely easy to pick your favorite Sun.

YOUR TURN: Who was your 2013 Sportsman of the Year? Leave it in the comment section below.