Full credit (and praise) should go to the Greatest Living American Writer, Neal Pollack, for single-handedly derailing the 2006 season of the Phoenix Suns.
Pollack, who you may know from McSweeney's, The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature or Never Mind the Pollacks, is the most well-known Suns fan I know of. (Also, you may know him as the Greatest Living American Writer. Have I mentioned that?) Thus, I lobbied him to contribute to the fantasical preview of the Pacific you are reading now.
He kindly obliged, and the unembarassing parts of our email exchange follow:
They have replaced a hot dog and a cornpone egotist with a nice packet of role players. It's the NBA equivalent of Moneyball. They're still going to get their rain of 3s, because with Nash at the point, guys will always be wide-open on the perimeter, and they've also picked up some defense and rebounding. If Stoudemire's knee doesn't prevent him from playing 65 games plus, they are going to win this division easily. If Amare is out more games than that, they're going to have to hold on to a low playoff seed and hope to be full strength by mid-April.
TZ: You're the best. That said, I hope Amare's knee is as chewed up as a $2.99 sirloin from the Sundowner.
NP: Yeah, you'd better. Because otherwise, he will eat Kenny Thomas for brunch.
This conversation happened on Monday, Oct. 10. Amare's microfracture surgery, complete with the announcement he would miss 4 months, was Tuesday, Oct. 11.
Sacramento, Los Angeles and Oakland: You're welcome.
TZ's Prediction: Neal Pollack will slowly morph into Steve Bartman. The gorilla will put a hit out on Pollack. Neal will thusly be known as the "Greatest Non-living American Writer," supplanting Dr. Atkins.
Oh, and the Suns will finish 2nd in the division and something like 6th in the conference. And they'll beat the Nuggets in the first round but then get punished by Kenny Thomas and the Kings. KT hungry. Hungry for $2.99 Reno sirloin.