There’s a time and place for players to celebrate in the face of a loss, and for the Phoenix Suns, that window was absolutely during Devin Booker’s historic performance in Boston.
I hear you. What’s the point if you don’t win the game? Winning is the ultimate goal, isn’t it?
Sure, but context matters, as it always does, and when you isolate the loss to the Celtics and juxtapose it with Phoenix’s struggle the past two seasons, it makes sense why Suns players were jumping up and down on the bench while Booker was doing what no one his age had ever done before.
Scoring 70 points in a game isn’t just some cool, off-hand feat. Michael Jordan never scored that many points – he only managed 69, that stiff. Seriously though, Hall of Famer after Hall of Famer have passed through the NBA and not accomplished the feat, let alone at the age of 20.
Even though they were mostly meaningless points, the final bit a result of textbook garbage-time inflation, the record books won’t reflect that and you’ll never be able to take the history away from Booker and the Suns.
When you’re 22-51 and fielding the youngest starting lineup ever, you’re allowed to celebrate the few wins you earn, especially when they’re promising for the future. And Booker, even before he caught on fire in Boston like he was in NBA Jam, was considered a star in the making.
He may never end up being the best shooting guard in the league, an MVP-calibre player or a Hall of Famer, but for one special night he was all that wrapped into one and moments like that are too far and few not to soak in.
And by the way, the Celtics need to stop being so bitter about the whole thing.
Unwritten rules and their significance in sports is tiresome. They’re unwritten for a reason. Phoenix coach Earl Watson rightly wasn’t concerned with Boston’s feelings when he was preserving time and possessions by calling timeout and instructing for intentional fouls – he was too focused on allowing his own players to thrive, even if it meant just a moral victory.
Good-natured trash-talking is great, but if Celtics players were really that annoyed with how Booker scored and how the Suns celebrated in the aftermath, they could have played some better defence. A frustrated Brad Stevens certainly felt that way.
But this is about Booker and the gem Phoenix have, giving them hope that even more special nights could be on the way.
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