How disrespect pumps up Channing Frye of the Phoenix Suns

Disrespect is what drove Phoenix Suns forward/center Channing Frye to succeed at UA from 2001-05 – and after sitting out last season to monitor a heart condition, it's what has fueled his return to the NBA, along with the Suns' surprising start to the season.       

In January 2004, Frye's Wildcats blew out ASU at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, thanks in part to motivation from the Sun Devil student section, which antagonized then-Wildcat coach Lute Olson with various chants for most of the game.        

"They were pretty rude to him, so we had to get after them," said Frye of that game, in which Olson pointed at the scoreboard to silence the ASU fans in the second half. "Coach told us to turn the dials up, so we had to go out there and start whoopin' that butt."   

During his time away from the NBA last year to recover from a heart defect (a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy), Frye took his wife to the UA-ASU basketball game in Tempe – a game the Wildcats also won. He still calls Wells Fargo Arena "butt-whoopin' territory."

Frye still actively follows Wildcat basketball, which is currently the No. 1 college team in the nation – a feat UA hadn't achieved since 2003, when Frye was a sophomore. 

"(Current UA coach) Sean Miller's doing a great job of just letting them go out there and play," he said. "He's a great guy, man. He's a basketball genius. I would've loved to play for him.        

"They have a good mix of (youth and) older upperclassmen. They all play together. They all look like they care about each other. I think the biggest thing is they take pride in that uniform. I think we took a lot of pride in that uniform every year and every chance we got to play." 

Frye, who was drafted No. 8 overall by the New York Knicks in 2005, takes just as much pride in the Suns' uniform he's worn since 2009, when he was signed as a free agent. Picked to finish last in the Western Conference by many in the media, the Suns are off to an unexpected 12-9 start to their 2013-14 season.

That lack of respect pumps Frye up. "I knew we were going to better, but I mean, nobody gives a (expletive) about us, and that's just the honest truth, man," he said. "No tabloid or no nothing would ever give the Suns any credit. They just don't like the way we play. I just don't think they respect the organization.

"And that's how we like it, man. Going back to the last time we were at the playoffs (in 2010)… Nobody gives us any credit, no matter what. Yeah, we've had years when we've underachieved, but I think at the same time, if you don't know something about a team, you don't have to put us at the bottom. But we've not only got to prove them wrong, but we've got to make sure that we're doing the right things."

Frye has adopted a healthier off-court lifestyle as a result of his heart condition – and in his return to the Suns this season, he has shown little signs of rust on the court, averaging over 10 points and nearly six rebounds per game, which are both better than his career NBA averages.

"I think it'd be easy for me to get back into the old routine, but that's just not me anymore," he said. "I have to take things a lot differently, a lot more serious.

"I think for me, it's just be consistent and get better every day. There's always something that I have to work on, and it's just continuing to adapt and adjust. That's my goal: to be consistent, and just have fun and play basketball."

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