Known to many simply as the “Frustrated Suns Fan”, Chucko was first introduced to NBAMate readers back in early 2008 and since then has been perpetually frustrated with his team. Don’t let that fool you though – he loves his Suns. To the point where its bad for his health.

What a joyous time it is to be an NBA fan. The promise of the season ahead looms, and no matter which team you follow, your offseason acquisitions are enough to give you hope of a playoff-bound future. You read all the season previews and predictions, soaking up every ounce of positivity that the media serves up to you team.

That is, unless you’re a Suns fan.

Year in year out, the Suns get absolutely no love from the media and supposed basketball “experts”. Especially the last few seasons. The stories are always about how Steve Nash is slowing down, and that he can’t possibly continue to play at the pace of his MVP years. This goes on while the one-eyed sniper puts up the best numbers of his career and leads his team to the Western Conference Finals.

We hear little regarding the vast improvement of players like Robin Lopez, Jarrad Dudley, and DTA runner-up Goran Dragic. No, in Phoenix we are used to the constant doom and gloom spewed forth by the haters at ESPN and their journo buddies.

Last off-season, John Hollinger graced us with a new model – the “Future power rankings” -  predicting how a team would fare in three years time. At the time of his first writing, the Suns were coming off a terrible season, swapping coaches and missing the playoffs. The Shaq experiment had finally been disbanded, so we can almost forgive Hollinger for putting the Suns a lowly 25th, expecting Phoenix to simply wither and die. However, a fantastic season later, huge improvements across the board from all players, sweeping our arch nemesis San Antonio on our way to taking LA to 6 games in the Western Conference Finals, and you would rightly expect the Suns to jump in the rankings to… WhaaaAAA??? Hollinger rates them this year at… 27th?!?

Even NBAMate’s own Ash has given up on the Suns before the season has started, making the same assumptions that every analyst makes when it comes to Phoenix. Ash hasn’t realised the Suns have already gone through their “rebuilding” phase… while contending for a title. Pieces like Marion, Bell, Diaw, Barbosa, Amare, have all been moved on. The old 7 Seconds Or Less Suns players have been put to pasture. The new young building blocks of Robin Lopez, Goran Dragic, Jarred Dudley, Earl Clarke, Hakim Warrik have taken over as the up-and-comers while Nash and Hill play out their final years. The Suns have shored up their future with the Childress, Hedo and Frye signings, and they have cap flexibility with Jason Richardson’s $14m coming off the books next season. Far from the rebuild that Ash predicts, the Suns have completed their rebuild, while going to the Western Conference Finals. How many teams can say that?

The Suns once symbolised the best of basketball – the new, exciting way to play the game. But somewhere along the line the journalists turned on them. Hating on the Suns became the norm, all the cool kids were doing it. In the 2009 off-season the ESPN “experts” predicted that the Suns would miss the playoffs because they have no defense and Nash is old. Then in the first round of the playoffs, the “experts” predicted Portland would win because the Suns have no defense and Nash is old. Round 2, Spurs would win because the Suns have no defense and Nash is old… Do you see a pattern here? How many “experts” admitted their mistakes on predictions made when the Suns made it to game 6 of the Western Conference Finals? How many learned from their mistakes and looked at the Suns a little more closely this season?

None. This off-season gives us the same old tired lines that the media used to tell us why the Suns will miss the playoffs. From ESPN a few days ago: “The defense has gotten better under Alvin Gentry, but it’s still not stellar enough to win …. At some point, the 36-year-old Nash is going to start acting his age.” Yeah, thanks for that Hollinger. You’ve clearly got your life sorted out… copy… paste… collect paycheck.

So go on, underestimate the Suns once again. And once again, we will show you for the fool you are. Because quite frankly, I think that John Hollinger doesn’t have the mental defense to write for ESPN, and he’s getting old.

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