COMMENTARY | The Phoenix Suns don't have an overflowing bandwagon these days, but those who stick by the purple and orange are as loyal as any fans in the NBA. Although a championship has eluded them, the Suns haven given fans plenty of reasons to cheer over the years.
Here are the top five reasons we love the Suns:
The Best Mascot
Any talk about the best mascot in the NBA has to include The Gorilla. Since 1980, The Gorilla has been dazzling the fans with his acrobatic dunks and humorous skits. Locally, The Gorilla drives an orange Hummer and makes over 300 appearances per year (h/t Suns.com), including schools and hospitals. Although the true identity of The Gorilla is kept secret, he (or she) is one of the reasons we enjoy attending games.
New general manager Ryan McDonough and new head coach Jeff Hornacek bring a winning formula to the desert, starting with the 2013-14 season. The previous regime of general manager Lance Blanks and coach Alvin Gentry (with Lindsey Hunter in the interim) failed to impress. While some steps will need to be taken to right some of those wrongs (Kendall Marshall and Michael Beasley), it's refreshing to have two leaders with a history of winning in the NBA.
Goran "The Dragon" Dragic is one of the most underrated point guards in the NBA. If you saw him on the street and didn't know him, you'd never guess it. Yet, he did more than enough to live up to his $7.5 million annual salary in 2012-13. His averages of 16.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 9.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game after the All-Star break are rivaled by few. Dragic is tough, fearless, puts substance over style and is the perfect example of what Suns basketball should be about.
Every team claims they have the best dancers in the NBA. Not every team is blessed with beautiful weather with which to perfect their bronze tans like the Suns dancers do. From top to bottom, the Suns dancers feature beautiful and talented women who know how to get the US Airways crowd fired up. Check out this video if you need further proof.
The seeds have already been planted for a successful future in the desert. Eric Bledsoe is a potential superstar. Caron Butler brings leadership and experience. Alex Len could be the center of the future. Archie Goodwin could be the steal of the 2013 NBA draft. Add in Dragic, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat and it's easy to see that there's hope for the future.
Although the Suns have fallen on some tough times as of late, the fans haven't turned their backs on the team. The team isn't that far removed from the 2009-10 team that won 54 games and made it to the conference. This is a team with a history of regular-season success with fans that stand by and still love the purple (and sometimes black) and orange. It's easy to see why.
Michael Dunlap is an NBA credentialed writer who covers Phoenix Suns practices and games for the site he founded , HoopsHabit.com.
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- Goran Dragic