Well that’s it! After 3,586 games, the Phoenix Suns’ franchise has officially come to an end. That is if you believe the Mayan sports schedule. According to our ancient friends from the south, Friday is the final day of the season. That is, every season known to man.
If they’re right, the curtain will fall on the world and Planet Orange. Yes, the Suns will have played their final game in franchise history on Wednesday and what a way to go out!
While we have to wait another 24-hours or so to find out if it was really the finale, the Suns decided to hedge their bet by playing their best game of the season. Three different players, Shannon Brown, Jared Dudley and Goran Dragic scored 20 or more points, while three-pointers rained down in apocalyptic fashion, to the tune of a season-best 17 makes from beyond the arc.
Brown was his own one-man reckoning in the third quarter, dropping 18 points of his 26 points in the quarter. For a potential career finale, it was one he was satisfied with.
“I think I could go to Heaven feeling like I played well,” Brown said with a chuckle. “I continued to get better and if it happens, I worked my butt off and I became the best player I could be at this point. It is what it is.”
Sure, the final act of the Suns’ story was an entertaining one, recording their fourth-straight win after losing seven straight — the first time they’ve done that since hair bands and Andrew Dice Clay were popular, aka 1987-88 — but was the entire journey one worth taking?
Looking back at the 45 years this team has been on this spinning marble in the sky we call earth, the verdict would have to be yes.
In their almost half a century of existence, the Suns made 29 playoff appearances, had the fourth-highest winning percentage in the league, won two Western Conference Championships and offered one of the most exciting brands in basketball.
Think about the individual moments that the franchise has ingrained in our collective brains more than the Phoebe Cates’ red bikini in Fast Time at Ridgemont High is singed in the brain of any young man growing up in the 1980s.
There was the Sunderella Suns in 1976, who magically made their way through the West in the playoffs despite a pedestrian 42-40 record and took the legendary Celtics to the brink. Not to mention, they played in one of the most entertaining games in NBA history a triple overtime affair that included the most famous shot in league history “The Shot Heard Round the World.” That and Alvan Adam’s impressive and award-winning rookie campaign.
The 1988-89 squad led by Cotton Fitzsimmons and featuring Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle, Tom Chambers and Eddie Johnson, breathed life back into the franchise and was the start of a playoff streak so long that you’d think it was a Ken Burns documentary.
How about the 1989-90 team, who finally got over the hump and beat the vaunted Los Angeles Lakers in the playoffs? A few years later against the same hated neighbor from the west, during the 1992-93 playoffs, there was Paul Westphal’s guarantee that the team would win three straight games to stave off playoff elimination.
That entire 1992-93 run, with the exception of John Paxson’s three-pointer that still burns worse than the heartburn that comes along with a late night food run, will always hold a special place in Suns fans’ hearts (at least for a few more hours). And how about the 300,000-person parade for a second-place team, where people filled the streets of Phoenix despite triple-digit heat? (Although every time the story is told, more people were at the parade and the temperature continues to increase.)
There was the Barkley years, Backcourt 2000 (which lasted about as long as the Y2K scare), the dawn of “Seven Seconds or Less,” Nash’s MVPs and Alvin Gentry’s squads uncanny ability to succeed in the face of detractors.
While we’ll never know where this year’s team would have taken us and what memories they would have created, being a Suns fan from the Madhouse on McDowell to the Purple Palace with Al McCoy providing the soundtrack has been everything one could ask for. The team may never reach 2,000 wins (the team finished with 1,998) and may never hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy, but as fans, when time runs out and the apocalypse is upon us, at least we’ll have all the great memories to think back on.
That or we’ll all at least get to watch the Suns versus Portland Saturday, if the Mayans were wrong. Either way, it’s pretty good to be a lifelong Suns fan.
What is your favorite moment in Suns history?