Brownie Points: Bring me the head of Marcus Banks - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Brownie Points: Bring me the head of Marcus Banks

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Posted: Thursday, July 3, 2008 10:21 pm | Updated: 9:07 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

You see the name Tyronn Lue, and the yawn just escapes your mouth involuntarily. Then you see the other two teams that would also like the veteran free agent to back up their point guards next season - the Celtics and the Mavericks - and you realize the Suns could do a lot worse than have him back up Steve Nash.

Read Jerry Brown's blog, ' Brownie Bytes'

Come to think of it, they have done worse - and paid a lot more. His name is Marcus Banks.

Lue has 10 years in the league, but he's only 31. He's quick, smart, knows how to run the point and he has playoff experience (including two rings with Shaq's Lakers). He adds another good shooter with 3-point range (career 39 percent). He's been a starter and can eat up 15 to 20 minutes a night - or a dozen games, if the Suns follow through on plans to rest Nash during the season - without the house falling in.

Chris Duhon is out of Phoenix's price range. Anthony Johnson's résumé doesn't match Lue. I like the idea of dealing for a Travis Diener, who can really shoot it, or Sergio Rodriguez, but the Suns are short on draft picks or anything else to offer (the Suns need to give Leandro Barbosa at least one season with a defensive-minded coaching staff).

SLITHERING TO THE BREAK

For Diamondback fans in search of an oasis in the desert, allow me.

Starting tonight, Arizona plays 16 of its next 25 games within the West Division - seven with the Dodgers, six with the Padres and three with the Giants.

And if you throw in a series in Washington next week, 19 of the next 25 are against teams with losing records - umm, I mean losing records worse than Arizona's.

Back when the world was their oyster (and temperatures were still in the 80s) the D-Backs won 20 of 28 games within their division. Meanwhile, the Nationals are 2-8 against the West.

Of course, the schedule-makers can't hit, field, pitch the seventh and eighth innings or keep the D-Backs off the disabled list. And while their roster is limping, the Dodgers have both Nomar Garciaparra and Andruw Jones back on the field.

TONTOZONA MEMORABLE, JUST NOT FEASIBLE

I'll never forget that first mile-long walk down the dirt road from Kohl's Ranch to the end of the line in 1983 - and staring, open-mouthed, at my first ASU football practice at Camp Tontozona.

I gawked at the incredible pines straining for the skies and the tip of Mt. Kush. I loved the hypnotic babbling of Tonto Creek interrupted only by the sounds of coaches' whistles and crunching pads. I watched those ominous clouds rolling in to threaten each afternoon practice, usually followed by a magnificent sunset.

And I will miss the tales of raids on the freshman cabin, wild animals coaxed into coaches' offices and knowing that every August, the Sun Devils would gather to renew the chase of another football championship.

But lovely as it is, Tontozona's beauty can't overcome its shortcomings as a facility designed to prepare a 21st-century football team. The weather, the field conditions, the logistics and an $8.4 million, climate-controlled bubble finally did what every coach since Frank Kush always wanted to do - keep his team out of the woods.

It makes sense. It had to happen sooner or later. But that doesn't mean it doesn't tug at the heart and soul of every player, fan and writer who will never forget that first glimpse of football in paradise.

QUICK HITTERS

We saw one side of Shaquille O'Neal last week (the nasty rapper) but another side was on display Thursday on ESPN. As part of the annual "SportsCenter" series "My Wish," O'Neal granted the request of Alexander Williams, a 9-year-old Alabama boy battling acute lymphocytic leukemia. But O'Neal didn't just meet Williams, he took him to lunch at a swank Orlando, Fla., hotel before the pair headed to a local gym, slipped on Suns jerseys, played a game of P-O-N-Y and took turns dunking. Kobe Bryant never came up.

Randy Moss has purchased a 50 percent share of a Craftsman Truck Series team. Of course, he's given his driver the OK to just drive off the track with five laps remaining if he's losing the race.

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