Phoenix Suns

Sun, 08 Feb 2009 09:00

History of Phoenix Suns

Information about the NBA team Phoenix Suns.

Included in the National Basketball Association’s list of successful basketball franchises is the Phoenix Suns. Named in reference to the bright sunshine in this part of Arizona, the Phoenix Suns are considered as among the most consistent teams in NBA.

Based in phoenix, Arizona, the Phoenix Suns is a member of the Western Conference Pacific Division of the National Basketball Association (NBA), playing games in its home arena, the US Airways Center located in downtown Phoenix.

Following its long line of history is a likewise long line of winnings, as well as a long list of star players and coaches, having their own share of fans among the Phoenix Suns game crowd.

Starting off as an NBA expansion team in the 1968 season, the Suns boasts of a 40-year history highlighted with 1,750 wins and eight Western Conference Finals playoffs, though it hasn’t won an NBA championship. It has already won six division (1981, 1993, 1995, 2005, 2006 and 2007) and two conference titles (1976 and 1993).

Throughout its life in the basketball scene, the team has been home to a number of basketball superstars such as its National Basketball Hall of Famers: Charles Barkley, Jerry Colangelo, Connie Hawkins, and Gail Goodrich. Among its current shining stars are Steve Nash, Shaquille O'Neal, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, and Amare Stoudamire.

Whenever a valuable player or team member retires, he is enshrined into the Phoenix Suns Ring of Honor. Among the most notable players who made it to the honor list are Dick Van Arsdale, Walter Davis, Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle, Tom Chambers, Alvan Adams, Charles Barkley, Connie Hawkins, and Paul Westphal. Former Suns head coach Cotton Fitzsimmons, got into the ring of honor, earning 832 wins for the team.

The inception of the Suns

The Phoenix Suns owes its inception to its first four owners: Richard L. Bloch, Karl Eller, Donald Pitt, and Don Diamond. All of them were graduates of the University of Arizona. General manager Jerry Colangelo hired Johnny "Red" Kerr, who hitched the Chicago Bulls to the playoffs when they entered as an NBA expansion team two years earlier. For that feat, he was awarded as the Coach of the Year.

The Suns picked Dick Van Arsdale first, a guard from the New York Knicks. He made the Suns’ first ever score in its first ever game at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, and led the Suns into winning against the Seattle Supersonics with the score of 116-107.

With the combined skills of Dick Van Arsdale, Tom Van Arsdale, Connie Hawkins, Leonard "Truck" Robinson, Alvan Adams, Paul Westphal, and Neal Walk, the Phoenix Suns enjoyed easygoing success in the 1970s. In 1976, they shocked basketball fans by defeating the then NBA defending champions, Golden State Warriors, though they fell to the Boston Celtics.

The Suns enjoyed successful NBA seasons, but problems and controversies began to arise when in 1987, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office indicted three of the Suns’ players, along with ten other people, about drug-related cases. These players were James Edwards, Jay Humphries, and Grant Gondrezick. Though the scandal is already perceived by some as a witch hunt, it has tarnished the reputation of the team during those times.

Playing at the US Airways Center

By 1992, the Suns were welcomed into their arena in downtown Phoenix, the present- day US Airways Center (formerly America West Arena).

The Suns fans booed in disapproval when the team chose Steve Nash of Santa Clara University in the 1996 NBA Draft. Then, Nash has not played a single game in any of the major college conferences. Hugely doubtful of the talents of such an unknown player, they had no way of knowing that Nash would eventually be among the shiniest basketball stars of all time.

Nash started out as a support player for star point guards Kevin Johnson and Jason Kidd. In 1998, the Suns traded Nash to the Dallas Mavericks for Martin Muursepp and Bubba Wells, as well as the draft rights to Pat Garrity.

In the 1996–97 campaign, the Suns started with a 13-game losing streak, which made then Suns coach Fitzsimmons step down, replaced by Danny Ainge, who was a former player.

In the 2002–03 season, Stoudemire came in, fresh from graduating at Cypress Creek High School (Orlando, Florida). With his fabulous rebounds and shoots, be became the first high school NBA Rookie of the Year awardee, during which the Sun made it back to the playoffs with a record of 44-38.

Though 2004 saw the change in Suns management for the first time since its inception, the 2004-05 season also marked the beginning of the Suns’ climbing back up the NBA ladder with an NBA record of 62–20. The Phoenix Suns owe this feat to the return of All-Star point guard player Steve Nash from the Dallas Mavericks. Nash bagged the MVP award for that season, while Amaré Stoudemire and Shawn Marion were named All Stars, and Mike D'Antoni was awarded as the NBA Coach of the Year.

The 2006-07 Western Conference season concluded with the Phoenix Suns landing on the second position. While they beat the Los Angeles Lakers on the first match, they were defeated by the San Antonio Spurs in the Conference Semi Finals.

The team acquired Shaquille O'Neal from the Miami Heat in exchange for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks on February 6, 2008. After about a month, the Phoenix Suns welcomed guard Gordan Giricek.

On May 11, 2008, Suns Head Coach Mike D'Antoni moved to coach the New York Knicks, taking the place of its ousted Head Coach, Isiah Thomas. On June 9, 2008, Terry Porter, who was an assistant coach of the Detroit Pistons, succeeded D'Antoni.

Considered as among the best teams in the NBA, the Phoenix Suns has garnered fans from all over the world, allowing it to keep its game attendance and finances stable. Its fans even voted for two Phoenix Suns All-Century Team. One of which consists of Kevin Johnson, Jason Kidd, Charles Barkley, Tom Chambers, Alvan Adams, and coach Paul Westphal. The second consists of Paul Westphal, Dan Majerle, Connie Hawkins, Walter Davis, Mark West, and coach Cotton Fitzsimmons.

Top players

The Phoenix Suns also take pride in its NBA Most Valuable Player Awardees, Charles Barkley (1993), and Steve Nash (2005, 2006). Likewise, the team became home to a number of NBA Rookie of the Year Awardees: Alvan Adams (1976), Walter Davis (1978), and Amare Stoudemire (2003).

Its NBA Sixth Man of the Year Awardees are Eddie Johnson (1989), Danny Manning (1998), Rodney Rogers (2000), and Leandro Barbosa (2007). The NBA also awarded the NBA Most Improved Player Award to two of Phoenix Suns players: Kevin Johnson (1989) and Boris Diaw (2006). Cotton Fitzsimmons and Mike D'Antoni, on the other hand, won the NBA Coach of the Year Award in 1989 and 2005, respectively; while Charles Barkley won the Best NBA Player ESPY Award in 1994. Steve Nash received the same honor 11 years later.

Not only does the Phoenix Suns shine in the hard court, they also extend their rays to other arenas. A proof of this are the 12 Emmy awards that the Phoenix Suns organization received from the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in October 2008.