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A night of draft excitement in Phoenix

By - Jun 24, 2017

By Simran Dave/for The Sporting Nation 


When Josh Jackson stepped off the plane from the NBA Draft to Phoenix Friday, the first thing he experienced was the scorching Phoenix sun. The second thing? The scorching enthusiasm from Phoenix Suns fans. He’s not in Kansas anymore.
 
From the beginning of the Phoenix Suns’ 2017 NBA Draft party on Thursday night, to the moment when Jackson’s name slipped from Commissioner Adam Silver’s lips, fans painted in purple and orange were buzzing about the Jayhawk forward and booing all other potential picks.

Jackson was the clear fan base favorite from the beginning.
 
Phoenix faithful attending the draft party were ready to move forward in the team’s rebuilding efforts. But as the noise of the future built inside Talking Stick Resort Arena, the Suns paused to celebrate their past before looking ahead.
 
Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton was the first of several speakers before the draft programming began and took a few steps back to examine the past.
 
Stanton announced that the Suns were preparing to commemorate the franchise’s 50 years in Phoenix beginning on draft night and continuing throughout the 2018 season.
 
“As we are excited and optimistic about the future of our franchise, it’s also important that we take a look back,” Stanton said. “Tonight, we’re kicking off the 50th anniversary celebration of our Phoenix Suns here in Phoenix.”
 
Stanton then introduced Al McCoy, the famed Suns broadcaster, to reveal a special 50th anniversary logo. McCoy first reminisced on the Suns teams of years past before shifting the tone of the evening to the future of the team.
 
“We have the opportunity to look ahead to the future,” McCoy said. “And the future looks very, very bright.”
 
Fans clapped for McCoy, but immediately quieted when the lights dimmed to show highlights from the past 49 years of Suns basketball. As the music built, the 50th anniversary logo was revealed on stage while flames rocketed out on both sides of the court.
 
Once the chaos subsided, the anticipation and excitement for Jackson built again. Suns fans were stable until the Boston Celtics were on the board making their pick, and the crowd began bleeding anxiety.
 
As commissioner Adam Silver called out “Jayson Tatum,” joyous yells erupted from the arena and everyone jumped out of the seats. Chants of “Jack-son, Jack-son” began, as fans felt relieved that Phoenix would now be able to snag the (former) Jayhawk.
 
The crowd endured a final five minutes of waiting, then Silver approached the podium for the Suns’ pick.
 
“With the fourth pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Phoenix Suns select…Jos-
 
Phoenix already knew. Supporters tumbled out of the seats, screaming with exhilaration and shaking the building as lights and fire flashed overhead. “Jack-son, Jack-son” chants broke out once more and echoed across the smiling faces of past Suns legends draped over the walls of the arena.
 
Suns guard Devin Booker appeared out of the shadows in the pandemonium, and the Phoenix faithful kept the cheering going strong as he took the stage and talked about Jackson.
 
“You can tell he really loves the game and he loves to win so I think he’s a good fit here,” Booker said. “Josh was initially who I wanted so I’m happy how it turned out.”
 
For a fiery player like Josh Jackson, it was only appropriate that the Valley of the Sun gave him an equally fiery welcome. He’s not in Kansas anymore.

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