The best way to not be annoyed by a neighbor's party is to be part of it.
The Suns' locker room is always staging block parties after games and practices. In a year in which chemistry is discussed more by the Suns than any science lab, the fun in the subdivision of stalls seems as pertinent as ever.
The space-hogging Diesel parked on the curb moved out. That took care of the public-indecency violations that plagued the neighborhood. Naked dancing in the street is now Cleveland's issue. The Big Offender, Shaquille O'Neal, took to showing teammates, particularly Leandro Barbosa, some Brazilian dance moves he learned . . . in the buff.
"Too many times," said Amaré Stoudemire, whose locker abutted O'Neal's lot. Fortunately for Stoudemire, O'Neal often changed in the training room and bypassed postgame locker-room appearances.
Much like Phoenix, the locker-room village of Sunsville has undergone change and growth with O'Neal, Matt Barnes and Stromile Swift out and Channing Frye, Earl Clark, Taylor Griffin, Dan Dickau and Carlos Powell in, although Dickau and Powell ought to be only renters.
The shuffle led to some locker-room moves akin to urban planning.
Four Suns kept a locker. From right to left, we start with the short side of the L-shaped setup of lockers. Frye gets the end spot, presumably prime real estate with only one neighbor. It is where Raja Bell resided next to a bulletin-board wall, where he once found a randomly placed quotation about following leadership posted at a time when he was most disgruntled under coach Terry Porter. Upon first glimpse he crumpled it up and hit a 4-foot jumper, one of his final shots as a Suns player.
But it's a great location, except . . .
"I can't see film from my spot," he said.
Frye has Powell, a camp invitee, as a neighbor for now. Jason Richardson kept his spot next to Powell's locker, with Griffin getting his first home next door. Louis Amundson stayed in his home in the final spot of the short side, finding it much calmer than his Nevada-Las Vegas locker room where players fought by throwing wooden shoe horns at each other.
Around from Amundson's spot comes the long side that faces the big-screen television. From there, right to left, it's Alando Tucker, Grant Hill, Dickau, Clark, Robin Lopez, Goran Dragic, an empty stall, Stoudemire, Jared Dudley, Barbosa and Steve Nash, who stays put in the model home, near the showers with a pillar to one side and an empty end spot to the other. (Next time Nash says he doesn't pay attention to the standings, remember that they're on the wall by his stall.)
Nash's neighbor stinks.
"I've got a garbage can," he said. "Smelly neighbor."
It was intentional for Clark to be near Hill, his mentor. Dragic goes from between Hill and Stoudemire ("There was no space for me," he said) to only Lopez as a neighbor. If Nash was going to lose Hill next door, it better be for Barbosa, his other best buddy on the team.
"I think he asked for me," Barbosa said.
After years of having veterans placed by him, hardly any are left to surround Stoudemire. He's now a veteran in a layout that alternates experience and youth. Stoudemire came into the league next to Penny Hardaway. In recent years, he took his sage, neighborly words from the likes of Hill, O'Neal and Kurt Thomas.
But nobody came out better than Dudley, who scooped up Dragic's undervalued repo. On the long wall. Near Stoudemire, Barbosa and Nash. In front of the TV.
"I definitely moved up," Dudley said. "I went from the corner to center right. You don't ever want to be center. Then the coach looks at you all the time."