Things have been hectic in Phoenix since the February 19th NBA trade deadline. The Suns made three trades within the final 10 minutes of this seasons’ deadline, re-shaping their depth chart at the guard position and changing the face of their franchise from Goran Dragic(traded to Miami for two first-round picks) to a joint effort of Eric Bledsoe and Markieff Morris. For those of you who are hazy on which identical Morris twin is which -we don’t blame you, they both play for Phoenix and have exact matching tattoos and facial hair– Markieff wears number 11 and is the more talented of the twins, starting over his brother on both this current Suns team and during their time at Kansas. Morris hasn’t responded very well to his opportunity to lead this new-look team in scoring, or by example.
After a very impressive overtime home win for the Suns over Oklahoma City last Friday night, the Suns welcomed their rival(and defending champion) San Antonio Spurs into town for an important home on Sunday, in which the Suns were just a game and a half out of the eight seed and had a chance to pick up a full game on the seventh-seeded Spurs. Things went pretty badly for the Suns; they posted their worst-shooting performance of the season and scored a franchise-record low 23 first half points. The team shot below 30% for the game and ultimately lost 101-74 in front of a somewhat-sparce US Airways Center crowd.
Markieff Morris took more of an exception to the Phoenix fans’ performance than the performance himself and his teammates. This is what he had to say to Suns’ beatwriter Paul Coro after the game:
“I don’t think we have a home-court advantage. It does not feel like a home-court advantage at all. Some games are going to be bad. You can’t win every game. That comes along with sports. Nobody wins games. We need the support. We need, as a team, to know that our fans are going to be behind us and I don’t feel like this year they’re behind us enough.
“I feel like we do have those genuine Suns fans but, for the most parts, I feel like we had more San Antonio than Phoenix fans tonight.”
“They don’t boo but they don’t cheer that much either. We feed off, for the most part, off the energy of each other. I know we’re a lot better than that. I know Phoenix fans are a lot better than that. Like I said, we have a lot of genuine fans that cheers for us – the ones that are in the first row, in the second row, in the third row. Once you go up, you feel like people was just at the game, just watching.”
Ouch. Morris was quickly criticized on Twitter by Suns fans and in the local media for his comments and those who even feel he has a point, thought he picked the very worst times to express his displeasure with the home crowds. Morris had these follow-up messages for Suns Nation via Twitter.
With little time to digest Morris’ public comments complaining about his home fans’ support, the Suns were in Miami playing the Heat and their newly acquired starting point guard, the aforementioned Goran Dragic. Things were testy throughout between the two teams and came to a head in the 3rd quarter when Dragic made a steal and was fouled hard by Morris on the way to the basket. This warranted Morris an ejection, resulting from a flagrant-2 foul call made by the officials on the play. Morris was also assessed his league-leading 13 technical foul earlier.
Although one of these incidents by themselves may not deserve a punishment, it’s evident that Morris needs to be disciplined by team officials, at least with a stern talking to. The lashing out of Morris on consecutive nights, especially with alienating the home fans(aka the paying customers), has some people(including myself) worried that one of the most exciting teams in the league over the last two seasons, is in a bad place character-wise and is spiraling downward towards the mediocrity Suns fans have endured since the departure of Steve Nash and Co.
All flagrant fouls aside, Morris was downright foolish for calling out the paying customers who support this team on a nightly basis, no matter how many fans were there and how loud they were. The fact is, they their Sunday night in downtown Phoenix to watch this team who have lost seven of their last 10 games and headed straight for their 5 lottery appearance in a row. They cheered about as much as team who shoots 29% from the field deserves, which is NOT THAT MUCH.
NBA basketball is a completely different animal than the college game and although the Morris twins had one of the best home crowds in the country in Kansas University that motivated them every night, there his not an atmosphere in any NBA arena that can be replicated like that. Morris should find a different way to go about getting motivated for each game, like maybe the pursuit of an NBA championship.