Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash; photo courtesy www.steve-nash.net
By Paul Williams
Living in Ottawa as I do, the statement, “How about them Suns,” is typically greeted with a polite, “Huh?”
We have the Sens, you see. “How about them Sens’,” is what people say around here, as the Ottawa Senators craft another entertaining season, only to predictably crash and burn in the playoffs.
But I don’t care about that. I’ve been watching the Phoenix Suns for three seasons, now. I’ve become a basketball fan. An NBA fan. But really, I’m a fan of whatever team Steve Nash is playing on, and for the foreseeable future, that’s the Suns.
So how about them Suns? It’s a great story. Steve Nash (the Canadian that could), out of Victoria, British Columbia, plays point-guard (kind of like a football quarterback) for the Suns, and is now the league’s two-time Most Valuable Player (that’s even more valuable than “the Shaq” or 9’2″ Yao Ming, who you may have heard of). He’s part of an innovative, international-style team that’s creatively coached by Mike D’Antoni, who spent a lot of his professional career coaching in Europe. It is, as some have observed, “throwback basketball.” Back to an earlier era of the game when running, passing and shooting was the norm. In short, it’s a really fast style of play, with the Suns out-hustling their competition time and again, and now arguably having an impact on the entire league, as other teams adopt this style of play.
The Suns consist of Frenchman Boris Diaw, Brazilian Leandro Barbosa, Americans Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion, and our man Steve Nash (heck, there’s even an Irishman in Pat Burke, who only plays occasionally and left Ireland when he was two, but you know, he’s kind of
Irish and everyone loves him). Anyway, the point is, this is the most exciting team to watch, out of all the major sports, bar none, and Steve Nash is definitely Eric Clapton, and you know who HE was in his prime.
Furthermore, the 32-year-old Steve Nash is getting better with age, appears to be a very nice guy, a generous team-mate (leads the league in assists), is humble in demeanour, has a good sense of humour, is easy-going, fantastically gifted and seems quintessentially Canadian in the very best of ways.
At the time of this writing the Suns have won a staggering 14 games in a row and are about to play “our” boys, the Toronto Raptors, on December 19 in Phoenix. If the Suns win, it will mark the team’s all-time time longest win streak. If they lose, Toronto will be elevated from the status of
“minor opposition; maybe we should rest the starters,” to bona-fide giant killers. I told you, it’s a great story.
2007 Ford Shelby GT500 convertible (top) and 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8. Click image to enlarge
Which brings me to the point of this article: the 2007 Ford Shelby GT 500 convertible, and how it compares with the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8.
You see the connection? No, not really, right? I know, it’s tenuous, but bear with me. I’ve never
seen an actual live basketball game and I want to see the Suns. Last year, when they played in Toronto, the only tickets available were a pair that cost $1,500 (this is large money, even for a famous automotive journalist like myself). The decision was made, therefore, to cash in some air-miles courtesy of Air Canada, and fly to Phoenix to catch a game this season. In the meantime, I discovered that fellow automotive journalist Michael Bettencourt, from the Globe and Mail newspaper, is also a serious Suns fan. We teamed up. We figured we’d need a surgical strike, a quick trip, a Dash for Nash, because this is a bit self-indulgent, to say the least, and wives, family, employers may not warm up to the idea as enthusiastically as the two of us.
So we’d need to have some automotive content, if our respective publications were going to be interested, hence the Shelby and Charger angle: fast cars to get us from Los Angeles to Phoenix, in time for the game, back to Los Angeles via Route 66, to the airport and back home in time for Christmas. You getting all this? It makes sense if you just kind of suspend your disbelief and go with it.
So that’s basically where we are. Poised to hit the big-time. We have actually managed to snag journalist credentials for the game, Ford sent us a couple of tickets, the plane is booked, the cars are ready for pick-up in LA. We have nowhere to stay in Phoenix, as the Phoenix tourist board (visitphoenix.com) wasn’t able to find a hotel to host two journalists of our stature, so that could be a problem, but whatever. We have credit cards and laptops, which is all you really need these days. And cameras, of course, just in case Steve is available for interviews and wants a ride in our hot wheels.
Watch this space for updates.
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