(Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool / Getty Images)
Deandre Ayton sabotaged the season with a 25-match suspension. He nearly did it again with a missed COVID-19 test inside the bubble, putting the Phoenix sun hazards back on.
Strike two. There are no excuses. His care is officially an obligation.
For their sake, the Sun saved Ayton from permanent embarrassment Monday afternoon, extending their unbeaten run to six games with a 128-101 win over Oklahoma City. But this is a moment the moment of your eyes. By now, most of his teammates know better than to trust him in high power basketball situations.
Take a look at the mess he created on Monday:
As tipoff called, the Suns did not know if / when Ayton would clear the protocol. They started an indispensable game without him, with teasing in a fever, with the national media paying unprecedented attention, with Dario Saric forced to come out with a starting role.
They performed accordingly. They looked confused and greedy. They fell back.
Sun was lucky to be playing an Oklahoma City team firing all the outstanding players outside of Chris Paul. They were lucky that their mission coincided with another NBA team that really didn’t care as much about winning on Monday, like the Heat on Saturday.
Depending on the formations they face in the last two games, the Sun clearly risks an asterisk accompanying their record high inside the bubble. The quality of the competition has become more questionable as the play-offs get closer because they are facing play-off teams shrinking close to the finish line. This is a fact they can not control, and one that does not require an apology.
Had the Suns lost this game, this passion would have followed Ayton around his career. It would be the day he punctured the bubble of excitement that surrounded his team for the second time in a season. Just like he did with the suspension for a banned diuretic that came in the wake of a dizzying Open Night win over the Mavericks so many months ago.
Prohibited diuretics are often used as masking agents. It’s not the kind of suspension you often see in the NBA. Like protocol failure and lack of a COVID-19 test inside a bubble.
Suns coach Monty Williams tried to justify Ayton in his post-match press conference, as losing a COVID-19 test before the most important match in five seasons was perfectly normal, within a championship that otherwise covered everything else. regarding the bubble protocol in startling detail
Williams got stuck for his player because he was forced into a difficult situation. He did not want to penalize the rest of the Suns players who have vowed to play diligently inside a bubble, those who remember doing their COVID-19 tests. He did not want to learn a lesson at the expense of Arizona, including fans who have consumed these bubble games on the edge of their seats.
Williams even tried to explain that he almost missed the tests himself with all the craving, only to grow up tested with a reporter trying to interrogate him.
Williams also grabbed for his player because the curtains are falling on sports journalism, where most mainstream media no longer hold the fluid to hold teams accountable. And it happened because Williams could use that conclusion to his advantage, hiding Ayton privately as he made it look like he interrupted the player a break, protecting him in the media, thus protecting his brand and image.
But he clearly put Williams at a disadvantage, wanting to impose punitive measures in flight while simultaneously preparing for the biggest game of the season, a game in which Ayton was fortunate to participate. Whoever elaborated his composition test, should get a gold medal for speed. Many residents in this state are not nearly as lucky.
The truth is, it’s another frustrating event in Ayton ‘s controlled career, where the only constant seems to be of varying levels of frustration.
I was spared by apologists who say he is young and growing. He is also a professional athlete earning nearly $ 10 million a year. And I wonder when he will learn to take all of this more seriously, including the livelihoods of those around him.
Reach Bickley at email@example.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10am to 2pm at 98.7 FM Arizona Sports Station.