The AT&T Center has caused a lot of pain for the visiting teams.
I’ve explored every level and I assure you that there is no death star being constructed in a secret room. It’s just a building… or is it?
The Suns’ playoff opener goes down as one of the most thrilling games in recent memory, but it was just par for the course for an arena that has haunted opponents since 2003. Shaquille O’Neal has been around long enough to know the history. When asked about his foul trouble in Game 1 Shaq said, “I’m used to things like that happening in this building. We’ve just got to find a way to continue playing.”
Other Suns remember all too well “The Incident” in Game 4 last year when a fourth-quarter flagrant foul sent Steve Nash to the floor and the Spurs to the Western Conference Finals. The Nuggets also know what it’s like to draw the wrath of the the building. Twice they opened the playoffs with a win on the Spurs’ home court and both times that was their only win of the playoffs.
The AT&T Center has seen the Spurs crowned champions twice (’03 and ’05) and it will pull out every trick in the book to see it again. Tim Duncan hits a clutch three-pointer in the closing seconds? Only in that arena.
But not so fast. Before we run and hide from the mysterious power of that building, let’s remember that it has turned on the Spurs in the past. In the 2004 playoffs, the Spurs hosted Game 5 in their semi-final series against the Lakers. With the series tied 2-2, the pivotal game went down to the wire and the Spurs, thanks to an incredible shot by Tim Duncan, had the lead with 0 seconds remaining. Actually, there was 0.4 seconds remaining. I was in the building for Derek Fisher’s miraculous shot that crushed the Spurs spirit and for the first time I tasted the bitterness that building has fed to so many opponents over the years.
The Suns have a chance to harness the power of the AT&T Center and give the Spurs a taste of their own medicine once again. They were a Tim Duncan three-pointer away from winning Game 1 and as Shaq famously remarked back in 2004, “One lucky shot deserves another.”
If that’s true, we’re due.