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Having just been thrashed 131-104 by the Houston Rockets last Thursday night, several members of the Phoenix Suns sat in the visitors' locker room of the Summit, dealing with their deep, deep depression.
"Damn, if he don't look like some giant Popsicle," said Charles Barkley, pointing to rookie Richard Dumas, who had just donned a pair of bright-yellow jeans.
"It gets worse," said Tom Chambers, dressing nearby. "He's got the matching top."
"You look like a yellow banana, Richard," said Barkley as Dumas hurried by, yellow jacket in hand. "Our small forward's a big banana."
Chambers, sporting a Western shirt, jeans and cowboy boots, stood up to leave. He didn't make it unscathed.
"Hey, Tom, you must get all them damn Wrangler shirts for free," said Barkley.
"You got something against the Garth Brooks look?" said Chambers.
Danny Ainge walked by and entered the fray. "How can you talk, Charles?" he said. "You been wearing blue boots. What's that all about?"
"Oh, the choirboy, Dannyainge," said Barkley, who always pronounces Ainge's given and family names as one long word. "Mormon fashion tips."
Such is life with the Suns these days: The victories are the only things keeping pace with the locker-room insults. After losing in Houston, Phoenix returned to its classy new pleasure palace, the America West Arena, and defeated the Utah Jazz (113-106 last Friday) before losing again, to the Cleveland Cavaliers (101-94 on Sunday). At week's end the Suns' record stood at a league-best 40-12, comfortably ahead of their chief Western Conference pursuers, the Seattle Supersonics (37-17), the San Antonio Spurs (35-18) and the Portland Trail Blazers (32-19). So formidable has Phoenix been this season that one day last week Sir Charles sat in his hotel room in Houston and analyzed the Suns' losses—one by one.