1968/69: With a $2 million dollar expansion fee Phoenix got its first major professional sports teams. While critics scoffed at the idea of basketball in Phoenix, the Suns organization headed by 28-year old General Manager Jerry Colonagelo sought to build a first class organization. The Suns to a step in that direction by hiring Johnny "red" Kerr, who 2 years earlier had led the Chicago Bulls an expansion team into the playoffs earning Coach of the Year honors. The first player selected by the Suns was Dick Van Arsdale a guard taken of the New York Knicks roster. Van Arsdale would score the Suns very first basket on October 18th at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum as the Suns beat the Seattle Supersonics 116-107. The Suns would get off to a great start winning 4 of their first 7 games. However, eventually they would come back to earth as they just won 12 games the rest of the way on the way to a league worst 16-66 record.
1969/70: Even though they lost a coin flip for the right to draft UCLA star Lew Alcindor the Suns were able to improve their team by acquiring Paul Silas and Connie Hawkins. Hawkins an ABA star with the Pittsburgh Condors had been blacklisted form the NBA after being involved in a college betting scandal, 7 years earlier. After year of playing for the Harlem Globetrotters and various small leagues Connie Hawkins was allowed into the NBA after his attorneys filed suit against the NBA. Hoping to strengthen their new teams the NBA decided to relent and allow Hawkins into the NBA, and the Suns selected him with 2nd overall pick. After going through the first part of the season with a 15-23 record, GM Jerry Colangelo decided to take over the coaching duties. Colangelo decided to let Connie Hawkins shot the ball and the plans work as Hawkins averaged 26.4 ppg as the Suns made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history with a 39-43 record. In the playoffs the upstart Suns were heavy underdogs facing the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 would go according to script as the Lakers won 128-112. However, Connie Hawkins but together a superhuman effort in Game 2 scoring 34 points with 20 rebounds as the Suns evened the series with a 114-101 win. As the series shifted to Phoenix the Suns would take a stunning 3-1 series lead as everyone in the Phoenix area jumped aboard the Suns bandwagon. However, the Lakers would rebound to win the next 3 games taking the series in & games as Wilt Chamberlain dominated the young Suns on the boards pulling down 20 or more in each game.
1970/71: After their trip to the playoffs interest in basketball in Phoenix sky rocketed, as the Suns looked to improve under new Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons. Under Fitzsimmons the Suns did improve posting a solid 48-34 record, as Dick Van Arsdale and Connie Hawkins each averaged more then 20 points per game. However due to realignment the Suns would not make the playoffs as they finished 3rd in the Midwestern Division. Under the new arrangement the top 2 teams in each division made the playoffs leaving the Suns out despite having a better record then the Golden State Warriors who made the playoffs by finishing 2nd in the Pacific Division.
1971/72: The Suns continued to play solid basketball improving for the third year in a row by posting a 49-33 record, as they were the only team to beat the Los Angeles Lakers who posted an all-time best 69-13 record twice. However, once again the Suns would be squeezed out of the playoffs by finishing in 3rd place as they were embroiled in a battle with the ABA over Charlie Scott. The Suns had acquired Scott's rights form the Boston Celtics. Scott would join the Suns in March saying the ABA reneged on a promise to pay off a $20,000 loan.
1972/73: After missing the playoffs with solid record 2 years in a row the Suns decided it was time for a change so Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons was replaced by Bill van Breda Kolff, a colorful man on the bench to say the least, van Breda Kolff had been known for accruing more than his fair share of technical fouls. However, it was the technical aspects of his coaching philosophy that came into question and ultimately cost him his job, after just 7 games. GM Jerry Colangelo would take over the reigns the remainder of the season as the Suns struggled finishing 3rd place in the Pacific Division where they were relocated too with a 38-44 record.
1973/74: Under new Coach John McLeod the Suns began to rebuild trading away Connie Hawkins to the Los Angeles Lakers for Keith Erickson and a 2nd round draft pick. Not surprisingly the Suns struggled missing the playoffs for the 3rd straight season with a record of 30-52.
1974/75: Second year Coach John McLeod begins to establish a system based on patience on offense and physical play on defense. Of the Suns 82 games that season, 17 were played without either team scoring 100 points. The Suns appeared to have a shot at making a return to the playoffs. However, injuries to Dick Van Arsdale and Keith Erickson led to a 10-game losing streak in March that ended the Suns hopes, as they finished in 4th place with a 32-50 record.
1975/76: The Suns got off to a blazing start winning 14 of their first 23 games. However by the All-Star break they had cooled significantly holding an 18-27 record. However, in the second half the Suns would heat up again rolling to a 24-13 record to finish the season in 3rd place with a 42-40 record making the playoffs for the second time in franchise history. Helping to guide the turnaround is Rookie of the Year Alvan Adams, and newcomers Paul Westphal and Garfield Heard. In the playoffs the Suns would eclipse the Seattle Supersonics in 6 games to reach the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. In the Western Finals the Suns were heavy underdogs facing the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. However, through the first 4 games the Suns had battled the Warriors even. But after losing Game 5 the Suns looked they were about to set. The Suns would not go down without a fight forcing a 7th game with a 1-point victory at home. In Game 7 in Oakland the Suns would rise to the occasion stunning the Warriors 94-86 to earn their first trip to the NBA Finals. After knocking off the Warriors, 5,000 fans greeted them at the airport as they return home at midnight. However, in the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics the Suns would get off to a rocky start losing the first 2 games at home. Once again the Suns would not go down without a fight winning the next 2 games at home to even the series and set up a crucial 5th game in Boston. In what has been widely considered the greatest game ever played the Suns and Celtics battled back and forth into a double overtime. However, with 1 second left it appeared as if the Suns had burnt out as they trailed by 2 points, as it would have taken a miracle to extend the game to a third overtime. However, a miracle is just what happened as Garfield Heard caught the inbound pass and turnaround hitting a buzzer beater to force a 3rd overtime. However, with several key players fouling out the Suns would fall in the 3rd OT 128-126. It would be the last gasp for the Suns who lost Game 6 at home 87-80 as the Celtics won their 13th title.
1976/77: Coming off their surprise run to the NBA Finals the Suns hopes were high. However injuries would hamper the team all season as Gar Heard and Curtis Perry each missed nearly half the season, while Alvin Adams, was slowed by an injury he suffered in the 4th game of the season. With all the injuries the Suns would finish in last place with a disappointing record of 34-48.
1977/78: After disappointing last place season the Suns drafted Walter Davis out of North Carolina with the 6th overall pick. Davis would have an immediate impact winning the Rookie of the Year while averaging 24.2 ppg, and joining teammate Paul Westphal 25.2 in the top ten in scoring. On defense the Suns were helped by Don Buse, whom they acquired from the Indiana Pacers for Ricky Sobers. The new additions would help the Suns rise from last place to 2nd place as they posted a solid 49-33 record. However, in the playoffs the Suns would have a let down as they were swept by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2 straight games.
1978/79: The Suns continued to play solid basketball as they posted a 32-20 record heading into the All-Star Break. However, management was not satisfied as team continued to take advantage of the Suns small front line. To help prepare the team for the second half the Suns would acquire Truck Robinson from the New Orleans Jazz for Ron Lee, Marty Byrnes, and a pair of first-round picks. The deal made the Suns stronger as they won 50 games for the first time in franchise history while finishing in 2nd place with a 50-32 record. In the playoffs the play of Truck Robinson would be a huge factor as the Suns beat the Portland Trailblazers in a 3-game series, as they rallied form a 12-poingt 3rd quarter deficit to win Game 3 at home 101-91. In the 2nd round the Suns would dominate the Kansas City Kings in 5 games winning the last 3 games by at least 15 points. In the Western Finals the Suns were matched up against the Seattle Supersonics. After losing the first 2 games at home the Suns rallied to win the next 3 games and had a chance to close the series out in Game 6 at home. However, the Suns would let it slip away losing Game 6 by 1 point and Game 7 by 4 as the Sonics went on to the NBA Finals where they easily beat a banged up Washington Bullets team.
1979/80: The Phoenix Suns spurred by a 9-game winning streak in December and 18 wins in 22 games after the All-Star Break posted a franchise best 55-27 record, but had to settle for 3rd place in the competitive Pacific Division. In the playoffs the Suns would get past the Kansas City Kings in a 3-game series. However, in the second round the Suns would be knocked off the Los Angeles Lakers led by a rookie named Magic Johnson in 5 games.
1980/81: The Suns retooled after their 2nd round exit trading away Paul Westphal to the Seattle Supersonics for Dennis Johnson. The move would prove to pay off as Johnson led the Suns in scoring while they lost just 5 games at home on the way to capturing their first division title with a record of 57-25. After a first round bye the Suns were matched up against the Kansas City Kings who they had beaten in the previous 2 seasons. However, the heavily favored Suns would struggle as they found themselves trailing 3-1 after 4 games. The Suns would rally to force a 7th game, but in the end the Suns would set with a 95-88 loss at home.
1981/82: The Suns chances for wining a second straight division title ended before the season even began as Walter Davis suffered a broken elbow in the team's final preseason game on October 26th. Davis would return in 2 months but the Suns would hover near .500 in his absence. The Suns would recover to make the playoffs with a 46-36 record. In the playoffs the Suns would squeeze past the Denver Nuggets in a 3-game series. However, in the 2nd round the Suns would be swept by the Los Angeles Lakers in 4 straight games.
1982/83: Heading into the season the Suns would make another blockbuster trade sending Truck Robinson to the New York Knicks for Maurice Lucas. Lucas would have an immediate impact on the Suns as he averaged 16.5 points and 10.4 rebounds per game as the Suns finished in 2nd place with a solid 53-29 record. In addition to Lucas the Suns would be aided by Larry Nance who had a breakout season with 16.7 ppg. After starting the playoffs with a win against the Denver Nuggets the Suns playoff hopes were severely damaged as Maurice Lucas injured his foot in a Game 2 loss. Despite having Game 3 at home the Suns would set in overtime 117-112.
1983/84: Prior to the season the Suns would make another deal sending Dennis Johnson to the Boston Celtics for Rick Robey and Boston's two 2nd-round picks. The deal would quickly backfire on the Suns as Johnson became a catalyst for another Celtics Championship while Robey was slowed by knee surgery averaging just 5.6 ppg, as the Suns played mediocre basketball all season on the way to finishing in 4th place with a 41-41 record. Despite struggling all season the Suns entered the playoffs with a 6-game winning streak. In the playoffs the Suns would continue to play solid basketball as they stunned the Portland Trailblazers in a hard fought 5-game series. In the 2nd Round the Suns continued to play their best basketball as they knocked off the Utah Jazz in 6 games. However, in the Western Conference Finals the Suns would be overmatched by the Los Angels Lakers in 6 games.
1984/85: In an early preseason game the Suns would lose Walter Davis to a knee injury when he slipped on a slick court at the Los Angeles Forum in a preseason game against the Lakers. Davis would miss all but 23 games as the Suns struggled through a season full of injuries that would see Larry Nance, Rick Robey, Mike Sanders and Kyle Macy miss significant time due to injuries, on the way to finishing in 3rd place with a 36-46 record. However despite their poor record the Suns would still make the playoffs, but they would be swept by the Los Angeles Lakers in 3 straight games.
1985/86: After being swept out of the playoffs the Suns decided to rebuild by parting company with Maurice Lucas and Kyle Macy. The result was not very good as the Suns struggled all season missing the playoffs with a wretched 32-50 record, as the Suns failed to send a player to the All-Star Game for the first time in franchise history. The lone bright sports would come as Walter Davis and Alvan Adams passed the12, 000-point plateau for their NBA careers.
1986/87: The Suns continued to struggle as Coach John McLeod began to express frustration at the team's lack of depth and youth. On February 25th McLeod seemed extra irritated during a pre game interview, after the Suns lost to the Los Angeles Lakers on the road. A day later McLeod would be fired ending his 14-year reign as coach. Under his replacement Dick Van Arsdale the Suns would play better posting a 14-12 record as the Suns finished in 5th place with a 36-46 record.
1987/88: General Manager Jerry Colangelo becomes owner of the Suns when he leads an ownership group that purchases the team for $44 million dollars. A political decision almost put the team in jeopardy as Arizona voted to rescind state holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King had triggered a chain reaction of negative responses from social, political and business leaders, causing pervious wonder Richard Bloch to consider moving the team to Toronto or Anaheim. However, Colaneglo's purchase meant the Suns were staying put. New ownership was not the only changes for the Suns, as the team may multiple trades. At the draft Eddie Johnson was acquired from the Sacramento Kings for Ed Pinckney. When the season began the Suns continued to struggle, as they made several deals at the trading deadline, sending James Edwards to the Detroit Pistons for Ron Moore and Jay Humphries to the Milwaukee Bucks for Craig Hodges. The Suns biggest deal came on February 21st when they sent Larry Nance and Mike Sanders, and a 1st round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for, Kevin Johnson, Mark West, Tyrone Corbin, and draft picks in the first and second round. The Suns would go on to finish in 4th place with a 28-54 record missing the playoffs for the 3rd straight season.
1988/89: Cotton Fitzsimmons the General Manager behind all of the wheeling and dealing took over the coaching reigns as the Suns added another new face by signing free agent Tom Chambers away from the Seattle Supersonics. All the deals would begin to pay off as Kevin Johnson had a break out season scoring 20.4 ppg as Dan Majerle a player obtained with the Cleveland Cavaliers draft pick has a solid rookie season averaging 8.6 ppg, ending the criticism the Suns gave away Larry Nance for 3 nobodies and draft picks. Meanwhile Chambers would lead the team in scoring with 25.7 ppg as the Suns had a remarkable turnaround season finishing in 2nd place with a 55-27 record. In the playoffs the Suns would get off to a blazing start as they swept the Denver Nuggets in 3 straight games. In the 2nd round the Suns continued to roll beating the Golden State Warriors in 5 games. However, in the Western Conference Finals the Suns would be overwhelmed by the Los Angeles Lakers who swept them aside in 4 straight games. However, the Suns were clearly on their way as they were showered with postseason awards, as Kevin Johnson was named Most Improved Player, Eddie Johnson won the 6th Man Award, and Cotton Fitzsimmons took home Coach of the Year honors.
1989/90: Coming off their turnaround season the Suns continued to play solid basketball finishing in 3rd place with a solid record of 54-28, as Kevin Johnson continued to establish himself as a star, averaging 22.5 ppg while averaging 11.4 assists per game. In the playoffs the Suns survived a hard fought 5-game series with the Utah Jazz, winning Game 5 by a 104-102 score on the road to set up a 2nd round rematch with the Los Angeles Lakers. After splitting the first 2 games on the road the Suns would stun the Lakers at home winning back to back games after a Los Angeles reporter, said "The Suns would fold like a tortilla." Up 3 games to 1 the Suns would not take any chance beating the Lakers on the road 106-103 to reach their second straight conference finals. However, the joy would be short lived as they lost 2 close games to the Portland Trailblazers on the road. The Suns would comeback to win the next 2 games at home. However, the Blazers would go on to win the series in 6 games. In total the Suns lost 4 games by a combined 12 points.
1990/91: The Suns started the season in the land of the rising sun as they split their first 2 games of the season against the Utah Jazz, as the NBA started the regular season in Tokyo. The Suns would continue to play terrific basketball finishing in 3rd place with a solid 55-27 record. However, in the playoffs the Suns would be eclipsed by the Utah Jazz in 4 games.
1991/92: The Suns continued to heat up the Western Conference posting their 4th straight 50-win season while finishing in 3rd place with a solid 53-29 record. In the playoffs the Suns would get off to a fast start as they swept the San Antonio Spurs in 3 straight games. In the second round the Suns found themselves in a quick hole as they dropped the first 2 games on the road to the Portland Trailblazers. After winning Game 3 the Suns needed Game 4 to even the series. The Suns would fall behind early as they trailed by 13 points after 1 quarter. However, the Susan would chip away at the league as both teams shot the lights out. The game would go to overtime tied at 127 as fans in Phoenix were in to a frenzy. The game would go to a 2nd overtime as teams seesawed throughout the 2nd quarter. The Suns would hold 151-150 lead with 27 seconds left after a Dan Majerle jump shot. However the Blazers would retake the lead with 10.7 seconds left. After missing a shot the Blazers would extend the lead as Terry Porter made 1 of 2 foul shots to make the score 153-151. However, with 3.6 seconds left the Suns had one more shot. However, Majerle's 3-pointer sailed wide as the Trailblazers grabbed a 3-1 series lead. It would end up being the last game ever at the Arizona Veteran's Memorial Coliseum as the Blazers won the series in 5 games. Following the season Cotton Fitzsimmons would retire, handing the coaching reigns over to Paul Westphal.
1992/93: After 4 straight 50-win seasons the Suns clearly needed to make a bold move to take the next step as they entered play the brand new America West Arena. On June 17th the Suns made such a move by trading Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang and Tim Perry to the Philadelphia 76ers for Dream Teamer Charles Barkley. Sir Charles would have an immediate impact on the Suns as he won the NBA MVP while averaging 25.6 ppg as the Suns posted the best record in the NBA at 62-20. However, in the playoffs the Suns would face adversity right away as they dropped their first 2 games at home to the 8th seeded Los Angeles Lakers. The Suns would battle back to send the series back to Phoenix for a 5th game. In Game 5 the Suns would put to again as they needed overtime to dispatch the pesky Lakers 112-104. In the second round the Suns continued to be put to the test as they battled the San Antonio Spurs even through 4 games. After winning Game 5 at home, the Suns and Spurs battled back in forth in Game 6. Determined not to go to a 7th game Charles Barkley hit a 20-foot shot over David Robinson with just 1.8 seconds remaining to give the Suns a 102-100 win.In the Western Conference Finals the Suns would not be as lucky as they alternated wins through the first 6 games setting up a dramatic 7th game for a trip to the NBA Finals at the America West Arena. Barkley would put up an incredible MVP performance in Game 7 scoring 44 points and pulling down 24 boards as the Suns won 123-110 to advance to the NBA Finals for a show down with the 2-time defending NBA Champion Chicago Bulls. However, the Suns would not stop Michael Jordan as the Bulls won the first 2 games in Phoenix. With their backs to the wall the Suns gave Phoenix fans a case of deja vu as they needed 3 overtimes to beat the Bulls in Game 3 at Chicago 129-121. It was just the 2nd triple OT game in NBA Finals history; the Suns were involved in both. However Jordan would put up 40 points in Game 4 as the Bulls took a 3-1 series lead with a 111-105 win. With Chicago ready to party the Suns would send the series back to Phoenix with a clutch 108-98 win in Game 5. The Suns appeared to be on the way to a 7th game as they led with 5 seconds left 98-96. With all eyes on Michael Jordan as time wound down John Paxson was left wide open nailing a 3-point shot with 3 seconds left to take a 99-98 lead. The Suns would be unable to get off another shot as the Bulls won their 3rd straight NBA Title.
19993/94: Coming off their trip to the NBA Finals the Suns continued to retool as they signed free agent A.C. Green away for the Los Angeles Lakers while allowing Tom Chambers to walk away and sign with the Utah Jazz. The Suns would be put to the test all season as Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson, and Cedric Ceballos all missed time due to injuries. However, the Suns would still manage to put together a solid season finishing in 2nd place with a solid 56-26 record. As the playoffs came around the Suns were finally healthy as they dominated the Golden State Warriors in 3 straight games. The Suns stayed hot early in the 2nd round as they won the first 2 games on the road against the Houston Rockets, overcoming a 20-point 4th quarter deficit to win Game 2 in overtime. However, the Suns would drop the next 2 games at home, as the Rockets battled back to take a 3-2 series lead. The Suns would rebound to take Game 6 at home, but the Rockets would win in 7 games on the way to winning the NBA Championship.
1994/95: After their heartbreaking loss to the Houston Rockets the Suns would land another big free agent signing Danny Manning away from the Atlanta Hawks. Manning would play solid basketball with 17.9 ppg as the Suns again battled through injuries to lead the Pacific Division. However just as Charles Barkley was getting healthy Manning himself would be lost with torn ligaments suffered in practice. Despite losing Manning for the remainder of the season the Suns would hold on to first place with a 59-23 record. In the playoffs the Suns would get off to a fast start as they swept the Portland Trailblazers in 3 straight games capped by a 47-point night by Charles Barkley in Game 3. In the 2nd round the Suns were matched up against the Houston Rockets again, and appeared to be on their way leading 3 games to 1. However, the Suns would drop Game 5 at home in overtime as the Rockets rallied to take the series in 7 games, as the Suns let a 10-point lead slip away in Game 7 at home.
1995/96: After two straight heartbreaking losses to the Houston Rockets the Suns decided to strengthen their weaknesses on defense by trading Dan Majerle to the Cleveland Cavaliers for John Williams. The Suns would struggle out of the gate, as Coach Paul Westphal was fired in January with the Suns sitting with a 14-19 record. Replacing Westphal would be Cotton Fitzsimmons, as the Suns continued to play mediocre basketball barely making the playoffs with a disappointing 41-41 record. In the playoffs the Suns would set quickly as they are beaten by the San Antonio Spurs in 4 games. Following the season the Suns decided to start over by dealing Charles Barkley to the Houston Rockets for Mark Bryant, Chucky Brown and Robert Horry.
1996/97: The Suns would not start the post-Barkley era in style as they started the season by losing their first 8 games before Coach Cotton Fitzsimons step aside and let Danny Anige take over. Under Ainge the Suns would continue to struggle as they lost their first 13 games before beating the New Jersey Nets on November 27th. The Suns struggles continued as they entered the New Year with an awful 10-20 record, as they acquired Jason Kidd from the Dallas Mavericks for Michael Finley, A.C. Green and Sam Cassell on December 26th. Things would go from bad to worse as Kidd suffered a broken collarbone in his first game as a Sun putting him on the shelf for 6 weeks. When Jason Kidd returned to the line up the Suns were still scuffling with a 19-32 record. Kidd would play well as he tried to work his way in the lineup, but as the Suns entered March with a 21-36 record, the season looked lost. However, the Suns would suddenly get hot winning 12 of 15 games in March. In April the Suns continued their miraculous comeback as they won 7 of 10 games to make it into the playoffs with a 40-42 record. In the playoffs the Suns would get off to a fast start as Rex Chapman poured in 44 points as the stole Game 1 on the road against the Seattle Supersonics. The Sonics would recover to take Game 2, as the Suns had a chance to close the series out in 4 games with a 110-103 win in Game 3. However, the Suns appeared to be running out of gas as they trailed by 3 points as time ran out. However Chapman would hit a dramatic shot to send the game into overtime. In overtime the Sonics would recover and win to send the series back to Seattle where they won Game 5 to end the Suns dramatic late season turnaround.
1997/98: The Suns carried the momentum of their late season turnaround as they climbed back above the 50-win mark finishing in 3rd place with a 56-26 record, as 9 Suns averaged better then 9 points per game thanks to the play making ability of Jason Kidd who averaged 9.1 ppg. However, in the playoffs the Suns would suffer a letdown as they are beaten by the San Antonio Spurs in 4 games.
1998/99: After a 4-month lockout that wiped out half the season the Suns played mediocre basketball as the Suns were hurt by inconsistent scoring from other players and the lack of large, physical players up front, finishing in 4th place with a mediocre 27-23 record. Things may have been worse if not for Jason Kidd who led the league in assist, while posting 7 triple-double. However, in the playoffs the Suns would be eclipsed by the Portland Trailblazers in 3 straight games.
1999/00: The Suns would go through another turbulent season as Coach Danny Ainge stepped down early in the season to spend more time with his family. Under Anige's replacement Scott Skiles the Suns would play solid basketball posting a 40-22 record as they overcame a rash of injuries, which included a scary life threatening seizure to Tom Gugliotta, on the way to finishing in 3rd place with a 53-29 record. As the season ended the banged up Suns would talk Kevin Johnson who retired 2-years earlier into coming back to help the team down the stretch and in the playoffs. In the playoffs the Suns would take advantage of a banged up San Antonio Spurs team playing without Tim Duncan to advance to the 2nd round in 4 games. However, in the 2nd round the Suns would be overwhelmed by the Los Angeles Lakers falling in 5 games.
2000/01: The Suns would get off to a fast start winning 7 of their first 8 games. However, as January rolled around the Suns would be plagued by injuries as Anferne Hardaway was forced to shutdown his comeback attempt after just 4 games. An off the court incident involving Jason Kidd would make matters worse as he missed 15-games after being charged with spousal abuse. Kidd would return to lead the Suns back into the playoffs for the 13th straight season with a 51-31 record. However, in the playoffs the Suns would make another first round exit as they are beaten by the Sacramento Kings in 4 games. Following the season the Suns roster will undergo major changes as Jason Kidd is traded to the New Jersey Nets for Stephon Marbury.
20001/02: To say the Jason Kidd-Stephon Marbury deal didn't work out would be an understatement as the Phoenix Suns struggled all season missing the playoffs for the first time since 1988 with a horrid 36-46 record. Marbury would lead the Suns with 20.4 ppg, but the Suns clearly missed the play making ability of Jason Kidd who had an MVP type season turning New Jersey Nets from perennial losers to Eastern Conference Champions.
2002/03: In the NBA Draft the Suns rolled the dice drafting Amare Stoudemire with the 9th overall pick. Stoudemire had never played a single game of college basketball and even had his high school career tarnished by losing his eligibility in his junior season. However, the gamble would pay off, as Stoudemire was a force on the boards with an impressive 8.8 rebound per game, which enabled Stephon Marburry and Shawn Marion to each score more the 20 points per game. The Suns would go on to beat out the Houston Rockets for the final playoff spot with a record of 44-38 as Stoudemire beat out Rockets star Yao Ming for Rookie of the Year honors. In the playoffs the Suns got off to a dramatic start as they stunned the San Antonio Spurs on the road in Game 1 in overtime forcing overtime on a bank shot by Amare Stoudemire, and winning on buzzer beating 3-point bank shot by Stephon Marbury 96-95. The Suns would continue to give the Spurs all they could handle but starred a 3-1 deficit in the face after losing Games 2 and 3, as they trailed Game 4 throughout. However, the Suns would stage a remarkable comeback tying the series at 2 games apiece on a game winning shot from Jake Voskuhl. After losing Game 5 in San Antonio the Suns would finally set in Game 6 losing to the Spurs 87-85.
2003/04: After a strong performance against the eventual NBA Champions in the playoffs the Suns stumbled out of the gate posting a mediocre 7-8 record through the end of November. Things would only get worse in December as the Suns posted an awful 5-12 record on the month which led to the dismissal of Coach Frank Johnson. With Mike D'Antoni taking over the rest of the way, the Suns would also decide to retool as they trade Stephon Marburry and Anfernee Hardaway to the New York Knicks in a multiplayer deal aimed at cutting the team's payroll. With the team going in a new direction they would struggle all season spending most of the season at the bottom of the Pacific Division. However, with a relatively strong final month the Suns would be able to escape last place finishing 6th with a record of 29-53. Following the season the Suns took advantage of their payroll flexibility signing free agent all star Steve Nash along with Quentin Richardson.
2004/05: Coming off an awful 29-53 season the addition of Steve Nash made a difference right away as the Suns had a ball handler capable of setting up Amare Stoudemire on the inside, as well fellow newcomer Qunetin Richardson gave the Suns an outside threat, as the Suns came flying out of the gate with a 12-2 record in November. The Suns would stay hot all season as they had the most dynamic offense in the NBA averaging 110.4 ppg as they ran away with the Pacific Division Title and would end up with the best record in the NBA at 62-20 equaling a franchise best. The incredible turnaround would earn Mark D'Antoni Coach of the Year honors while Steve Nash was awarded the NBA MVP with 11.5 Assists per Game. In the playoffs the Suns continued to rise as they easily knocked off the Memphis Grizzlies in 4 straight games. In the second round the Suns were given more of a fight as Steve Nash faced his old Dallas Mavericks teammates. After taking the series opener the Suns were stunned at home by the Mavericks in Game 2 losing 108-106. The Suns would bounce back to win Game 3 on the road, but would drop Game 4 despite a 48 point night from Steve Nash. In Game 5 at home Nash again was on fire scoring 34 with 12 rebounds as the Suns won 114-108. Hoping to avoid a 7th game the Suns again looked for Nash to lead the way as he showed why he was the league's MVP scoring 39 in a 130-126 overtime win to send the Suns to the Conference Finals. In the Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs the Suns found themselves in an early hole losing the first 2 at home despite 41 and 37 point games from Amare Stoudemire. The hole would grow deeper as they lost Game 3. The Suns would avoid the sweep by winning Game 4, but ultimately the Spurs were too strong as they eclipsed the Suns in 5 games.
2005/06: Coming off the trip Western Conference Finals the Suns took some loses as they were forced to send Joe Johnson to the Atlanta Hawks in a sign and trade for Boris Diaw and two future first round picks. To replace Johnson the Suns signed Free Agent Raja Bell away from the Utah Jazz, while trading Quentin Richardson to the New York Knicks for Kurt Thomas. More storm clouds would invade Phoenix as Amare Stoudamire was lost to knee surgery that would limit him to just three games. Relying on players like Shawn Marion and Steve Nash the Suns would still manage a strong start as they posted a 19-10 record through the season's first two months. Meanwhile the play of Boris Diaw and Leandro Barbosa was the most pleasant surprise of the season as each had breakout season with Diaw averaging 13.3 ppg, more then tripling his previous career high. The sudden turnaround would earn Diaw the NBA's Most Improved Player Award. While Barbosa averaged 13.1 ppg off the bench. However, it was Steve Nash also had a career high 18.8 ppg while once again leading the league with 10.5 assists per game as he won his second straight NBA MVP. In the playoffs the Suns would face the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. After winning Game 1 by a score of 107-102, the Suns suddenly found themselves in a freeze out as lost the next two games while failing to reach 100 points. Game 4 would see more struggles for the Suns offense, but they seemed well on the way to holding on to a tight win when Steve Nash made an uncharacteristic turnover allowing Kobe Bryant to hit a dramatic shot to tie the game in the final second of regulation. In overtime the Suns led late again when Nash was tied up by Luke Walton allowing Kobe, a chance to be the hero again as he nailed the game winner as time expired putting the Suns a 3-1 hole with a 99-98 win. Facing elimination the Suns came out shooting in Game 5 at home winning 114-97. Game 6 back in Los Angeles would once again go to overtime, but this time things would be different as Tim Thomas made two key three pointers as the Suns outscored the Lakers 21-13 in OT for a 126-118 win that evened the series. In Game 7 the Suns jumped out to a 32-15 lead in the first quarter and never looked back completing the comeback with a 121-90 blowout win. Finished with the Lakers the Suns still had LA on the horizon as they faced the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round. This series would also be tight all the way as the Suns won Game 1 by a score of 130-121, but saw the Clippers rebound to win Game 2. The Suns would win Game 3 in Los Angeles, but the Clippers would win Game 4 as the teams alternated wins through the first six games setting up another Game 7 in the US Airways Center. Once again the Suns came out shooting scoring 65 points in the first half on the way to a 127-107 win to advance to the Conference Finals against the Dallas Mavericks. Led by Boris Diaw who scored 34 points the Suns continued to shoot the lights out winning Game 1 on the road 121-118. However, the Mavericks would rebound to win the next two games as the wear and tear of two seven game series began to weight on the Suns with Raja Bell tearing his calf. Bell would return to play in Game 4 leading the Suns to a solid 106-86 win. However, the Suns would not win again as the Mavs won the next two games to advance to the NBA Finals in six games.
2006/07: Coming off their defeat in the Western Conference Finals the Suns stumbled out of the gate, losing five of their first six games. The Suns would quickly turn things around as they would lose just 1 of their next 19 games posting a 15-game winning streak that was sandwiched by overtime losses. After losing two of three, the Suns went right back on another winning streak, this time winning 17 games in a row, rising to the top of the Pacific Division where they would remain for the rest of the season. The Suns would go on to finish the season with a record of 61-21, securing the second seed in the NBA Playoffs. Facing the Los Angeles Lakers for the second year in a row, the Suns looked to avoid the problems of the previous season by jumping all over the Lakers in Phoenix taking the opener 95-87, as Leandro Barbosa who scored 26 points. Barbosa would equal his 26-point out put in Game 2, as the Suns eclipsed the Lakers again 126-98. After losing Game 3 in Los Angeles, the Suns took a commanding 3-1 series lead with a 113-100 win in Game 4 as Steve Nash had a franchise record 23 assists, while Amare Stoudamire scored 27 points with 21 rebounds. The Suns would go on to close the series in five games winning the finale 119-110, as Stoudamire had another solid game with 27 points and 16 rebounds. Prior to the start of the second round, the entire dynamic of the NBA Playoffs changed as the Dallas Mavericks who posted the best record in the NBA, were upset by the 8th seed Golden State Warriors. The Mavericks stunning defeat set the Suns second round series against the San Antonio Spurs up as a defacto NBA Final as the teams with two best record remaining in the playoffs met with a trip to the Western Conference Finals on the line. Game 1 would be an indication just how rough the series would be for the Suns, as Steve Nash suffered a deep gash on his nose trying to go for a steal from Tony Parker in the game's final minute. Nash could only watch helplessly as Suns trainers tried to stop the bleeding as the Spurs took the opener 111-106. Led by Amare Stoudamire the Suns would rebound to even the series with a 101-81 win in Game 2. As the series shifted to San Antonio, the bad blood began to boil over, as hard fouls and cheap shots were coming back and forth, while the Spurs won 108-101. The Suns would bounce back to even the series again with a 104-98 win in Game 4, as the Suns scored 32 points in each of the final two quarters. However, the game will be best remembered for the controversial finish as the Spurs Robert Horry slammed the smaller Steve Nash into the scorer's table late in the game. Trying to defend his teammate Raja Bell shoved Horry, while Amare Stoudamire and Boris Diaw stepped off the bench to see if their teammate was ok. Horry would be suspended two games, but it would be even more costly for the Suns who would lose Stoudamire and Diaw for Game 5, because of a controversial NBA rule that stated even leaving the bench are for a second would result in a one game suspension. Neither player got close to the dust up but they were still suspended and sorely missed as the Spurs took control of the series with an 88-85 win, as the undermanned Suns simply ran out of gas in the second half. Stoudamire would return for Game 6 and would have a strong performance with 38 points and 12 rebounds. However the Spurs were too much to overcome, winning the game 114-106 to close out the series. In the end it turns out this series did decide the NBA Championship as the Spurs went to easily win their fourth NBA Championship in nine years.
That 2004-05 team was crazily good. They started off 31-4. 31-4! That eclipses any of the current teams in the league. And their winning margin in that start was pretty huge, forgot exactly what it was though.
Nash subsequently sat out a stretch of games due to injury, and we lost something like 6 in a row. To top it off, towards the end of the season we seemed to stop giving a crap about our record, and lost a few easily winnable games to inferior teams.
In other words - they won 62 games, but lost a bunch without Nash in the first half of the season, and dropped a few gimmes at the end. Think about it.
People say 'well the Spurs knocked them off in 5 so they must not have been that good'. Well, we didn't have Joe Johnson at the start, and we lost each of those first 2 games by a small margin. Something like 3 points in each game. They didn't outclass us - it was one hell of a battle. There were no blowouts in that series.
I loved watching that team. They were pioneers and, quite simply, awesome.
As for 06-07 - that was a great season, but everytime I think about those suspensions and what Horry did, it pisses me off. I remember watching it live, feeling far more confident that we'd get past the Spurs that year as the final seconds ticked away. Then I almost couldn't believe my eyes as Horry bumped Nash into the scorer's table and Amare/Diaw walked up. When they announced the suspensions, I was sure it was over.
Some notable moments:
- Nash's bloody nose keeping him out for most of clutch time in game 1
- Our game 2 blowout win
- The crucial foul calls on Stoudemire in game 3, effectively taking him out of the game. Though granted he shouldn't have even put himself in that kind of position in the first place.
- Our victory in San Antonio, finished off with several straight pick and rolls where Amare scored off Nash passes
- The suspensions
- The choke job of game 5 where we lost a big halftime lead.
That was one hell of a series. I absolutely hate that we broke up that 04-05 team, as well as the 06-07 team.