Sports Opinion & Analysis

A Long Ways Away From “Eyes On The Prize”

In NBA on November 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm

By Jonathan Danielson

A few years ago the Phoenix Suns were one of the league’s best, and in contention for their first NBA championship. After a few disappointing playoff appearances where the team came close, but not close enough, the team’s marketing department even came up with the slogan “Eyes on the Prize.” 

As if to tell the fan base “Yeah, the last few years didn’t work out the way we wanted, but don’t worry, we’ve got it this time.”

Sometimes they could only keep one eye on the prize.

Sometimes they could only keep one eye on the prize.

Flash forward a few seasons, and all the principal players from that era are gone, and the current model is a sad, starless shell of its former self. Instead of names like Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson and Shawn Marion on the marquee, Suns fans now have to invest their hope in Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley, Marcin Gortat and PJ Tucker. Instead of contention, they are the bad joke of the league.

It’s gotten so sad, that the once hopeful fan base who has waited 44 years for their team’s first title has completely lost interest in the Valley’s first and most beloved franchise (losing to the Detroit Pistons by 40 points a few nights ago didn’t help either).

In response to the lower attendance and general lack of interest, the Suns marketing department has come up with a new ploy to try to get butts back in the seats.  Earlier today the team beginning promoting their new “Good Times Guaranteed, Or Your Money Back” campaign.

Long gone is “Eyes on the Prize,” and is instead replaced with “Win or Lose, You Won’t Hate Your Evening!”

The picture of these fans was taken sometime between 2004 and 2010.

This picture was taken sometime between 2004 and 2010.

While I can commend the Suns for doing something to try to get fans back in the arena, I greatly fear that this is the start of something much worse than just trying to reignite interest. By offering this “deal,” I believe owner Robert Sarver is fully admitting his post-Steve Nash rebuilding efforts are a complete bust, and he A) doesn’t have the financial wealth to support a write-off season, and B) has no clue what to do moving forward.

Like all companies offering a rebate, Sarver is counting on the fact that people will either not have the guts to actually request a refund, or will totally forget about it. Therefore, instead of fielding a competitive team, he is trying to bank on the family aspect of going to a game, and is using this “promotion” to get people in the door. I find nothing wrong with appealing to fans about bringing your children, or a date, or whomever to a game simply for the experience, but when the experience completely overshadows the competitive aspect of the team, this attempt becomes a long-term problem.

"I am so screwed..."

“I am so screwed.”

In their final days, the Seattle Supersonics tried the same ploys before inevitably relocating. The Sacramento Kings are currently attempting similar stunts to distract fans from the poor product on the court. While I think the Suns are obviously in a better place than either of those other franchises, doing things like guaranteeing “good times,” whatever that means, does not bode well for the future of the franchise.

If fans aren’t showing up now, and there is no long-term goal to change the competitiveness of the team (now that James Harden is off the table, is Tyreke Evans supposed to be the new hope?), how many more write-off seasons can Sarver suffer in a market with a notoriously fair weather population, before looking at the quick financial gains of something like relocation? And if not that, is this just the start of what the Valley can now expect from their team? “Hey, we might suck, but you’ll have fun anyways!”

If so, then if fans thought 44 years was a long time to wait, they are really going to hate what the future holds.


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