Former Suns star Charles Barkley still spends a good deal of time in Phoenix, and that permits him the opportunity to keep a close eye on the recently-lacking Valley sports scene.
So it maybe matters that the honest and always opinionated NBA analyst for TNT dropped a few positive thoughts about the state of Arizona’s two most popular sports teams when he visited Bickley & Marotta on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.
For the state’s original pro sports team, the Suns, it’s about new head coach Monty Williams taking a young roster and having the time and stability to nourish it. It was most helpful that former Phoenix owner Jerry Colangelo helped push Williams to the Suns and vice versa, he said.
Current Suns owner Robert Sarver, Colangelo said, even earned a blessing from his predecessor to hire Williams, pairing him with general manager James Jones.
“It’s all going to come down to Robert, whether he lets these guys do their jobs,” Barkley said Tuesday. “The Suns, man, they are really close. I know they got an awful record (last year) and all this turmoil going on, but man, they are so close to being a good team.
“They got some talent, some really good talent. They can’t fire a general manager two weeks before the season started, firing a coach after one year. These kids are so young … they don’t even get to talk about basketball. It’s so much noise going around the organization, you can’t even concentrate.”
Barkley hopes that the rumors and reports of Sarver’s micromanaging are stories of the past.
He likewise has a hopeful attitude when it comes to the Arizona Cardinals. They fired first-year head coach Steve Wilks after closing 2018 with a 3-13 record, then made the nontraditional hire of first-time NFL head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Kingsbury has dined with Barkley, the latter said.
“I’m a big Kliff Kingsbury fan, I’m not going to lie,” Barkley told Bickley & Marotta. “Everybody’s going to talk about wins and losses. He was at Texas Tech. He wasn’t at Texas or Auburn or Alabama. Texas Tech is only going to be so successful.
“… He was always consistent, he always scored,” Barkley added. “If the Cardinals can fix their defense and the little fella’ (quarterback Kyler Murray) can stay healthy … they shot their shot. And I would love to see Larry finish up competitively. I wanted to see the greatest player in Arizona history, in all sports … I would hate to see him finish up on a lousy team.”