PHOENIX — As influenced by a few painful personnel choices in recent years, the Phoenix Suns probably realize NBA teams should offer no guarantees.
But we just witnessed one exception. That would be Thursday’s Satisfaction Guaranteed Night, a clever promotion that coaxed the participation of a season-high 17,517 paying (for now) customers during a nationally televised date with the Dirk Nowitzki-free Dallas Mavericks.
“Every time we step out there, we play like there’s a money-back guarantee,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry, obviously not referring to road games in Detroit, said before his team’s 97-94 loss to the Mavs. “We want everybody when they leave this arena to feel they’ve gotten their money’s worth.”
Well, after the Suns scored 11 of the game’s first 12 points, most of the fun didn’t return until a closing rally. Otherwise, this event could have turned out to be pretty costly in a number of ways.
As you’ve probably heard, the Suns mustered a great deal of local and national curiosity by offering to refund the cost of Thursday’s ticket – no questions asked.
But after watching the home team attempt to give the fans a reasonable run for their money, we’re here to determine if there’s any question how this will play out once the rebate window opens.
Please note that concessions, parking and the swell karma from having a nearly full house on TNT are not refundable. We also should remind you that some people – looking for anything they can get for free – would transform the All For Orange rally slogan into All For Nothing.
With the stakes higher than after the usual Suns performance, let’s weigh some reasons the money should be returned … or should remain with team owner Robert Sarver.
• The Suns’ second possession was an on-purpose post-up for Michael Beasley, who spent much of his pre-game routine struggling to score on the block against 6-foot-10 skill development assistant coach Sean Rooks.
When the game started, Beasley was matched against Mavs swingman Dahntay Jones, who – working with a three-inch height disadvantage – used a pulling-the-chair tactic to subdue the Suns forward on that second play. Considering his usual fourth-quarter role, you’d think Beasley would be comfortable operating in chair-related maneuvers.
Anyway, Beasley missed 9 of 12 shots on the night, didn’t bump into a single rebound and seemed to be begging for a new nickname:
How about The Big Refundamental?
• The Suns’ selfish attitude toward a few changes in their offensive system (it looked like the “Misread Option”) surfaced in a 40-percent shooting performance.
• Someone in the organization should pay for every icepick-in-the-ear-provoking rendition of that “Gangnam Style” tune.
• After staggering home from a 1-5 road swing, the Suns fell to 7-13 on the season, losing to a shaky team that was on the second night of back-to-back work shifts.
• The catalyst for the Mavericks’ triumph was O.J. Mayo (23 points), a recent free agent whose crazed contract demands (reportedly about $8 million per season) led him to Dallas … and eventually steered Shannon Brown back to Phoenix.
• A sprained right MCL for Suns special-teams wedge-buster P.J. Tucker, a player who should be considered the biggest bargain item in the entire building. OK, that’s no reason to go for the refund — just a good reason to be excessively bummed.
THE WORTH-EVERY-PENNY VARIABLES
• Despite Gentry’s insistence that nobody from management encouraged the coaching staff to try making the Suns more fun than usual, the first offensive play was a back-screened, alley-oop dunk for center Marcin “The Polish Quote Machine” Gortat.
I’m not sure what the exchange rate would be regarding Gortat’s involvement in Satisfaction Guaranteed Night, but that was his only bucket of the game.
“I think it’s a great thing,” Gortat said an hour before Satisfaction Guaranteed Night commenced. “I think it’s a great opportunity for the fans.”
We’ll see if the fans are buying in … or just renting in.
Gortat — still being used much like a starting pitcher that can’t stick around long enough to qualify for a victory — spent about eight minutes of his fourth quarter on the bench.
“At the end of the day, it’s a coach’s decision,” Gortat said when asked about fourth-quarter rotations at the beginning of the night, “and we have to do what he says to do.”
That’s interesting, considering we’re pretty convinced that Gentry’s been asking his players to move the ball, defend with passion and rebound like any hair they might have is on fire.
• Before the fourth quarter, Beasley was back in his customary sideline chair, being sent back like a bottle of wine gone bad. His body language, which usually requires a dump button, was the antithesis of that demonstrated by feisty Tucker.
• The Suns entertainment czars really broke out the big guns. During a timeout at 7:41, they fired up a video (I’m pretty sure it’s the same one from two years ago) of Hairy Gorilla terrorizing holiday shoppers. In my opinion, this was worth more than the price of admission and far more amusing than Markieff Morris’ 3-point percentage in road games. Morris (15 points, 17 rebounds), by the way, was really good (again) at home.
• For a nice chunk of the first half, Beasley was matched against former Sun Vince Carter. This showdown must have been absolute heaven for the franchise’s crustier critics, especially considering Carter’s 1-for-4 shooting effort in the first half. It’s like he never left.
• Speaking of ex-Suns, SGN included an appearance from Shawn Marion. For freebie-seekers who prefer the Los Angeles Lakers, we had Mavs newcomer Derek Fisher, who may eventually need a flopping-fine rebate.