By Alexander Lomax
So I know that I have been known to rant quite a bit about the state of our politics here in Arizona. But with our state’s robust vaccination rates front of mind and my recent stimulus check in my back pocket, I can’t help but look ahead and be positive. And I gotta say, Arizona’s sports future looks quite bright.
First of all, if you hadn’t paid attention to the Phoenix Suns in a while, you should resolve that ASAP. Very few people were as cynical as me when it came to the Suns as they entered the weird world of “the bubble” as sports returned last year. Their placement in the bubble for the 8-game reformatted ending of the regular season seemed almost charitable. No one told them that it was a gift though. Against all odds, they rattled off an 8-0 record in the bubble, barely placing out of the playoffs that no one thought they had business being in contention for.
They may have missed those playoffs but they have carried that momentum right into the 2021 season. At the time of writing, they are currently in 2nd place in the Western Conference, something that would have been considered absurd pre-Covid. They have a legitimate if not criminally under-respected superstar in Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton is averaging a double-double a game. The future is young, and befitting their name, it is indeed bright.
Also, how about those Arizona Cardinals? First, they had the single biggest splash of the off-season, bringing JJ Watt to the Valley of the Sun. Not to be lost in that splash was how many other significant signings they had, however, including All-Pro center Rodney Hudson, former Patriots surprise (and the destroyer of Seahawk dreams) Malcolm Butler, and kicking record-holder Matt Prater.
The Cards are better positioned to win the NFC West than perhaps any time in the last decade. Within their division, they have 1) a team that is not happy with their QB (the 49ers), 2) a QB that is not happy with the team (the Seahawks) and 3) a team that proves that the quality of a stadium is not positively correlated with how well the team is run (the Rams). With Kyler Murray getting another year of reps and confidence, they have a high potential ceiling and a playoff appearance should be an expectation.
We even have a winning hockey team here in Arizona, the one place in America that probably shouldn’t even have a hockey team (unless it were based in Flagstaff). The Coyotes have a winning record, and it is very possible that we could be escaping the late spring heat with playoff hockey. It’s tough to get too excited about hockey in 100 degrees, but hey, hockey games are very fun and climatically it’s like a 3 hour trip to Flagstaff.
Also, the Arizona Diamondbacks play here.
Well, 3 out of 4 ain’t bad.