The Suns' bid to win the 1992-93 NBA title

By Lee Shappell
The Arizona Republic
June 22, 2003

April 23, 1992 – Paul Westphal named Suns coach for 1992-93, succeeding Cotton Fitzsimmons.

May 14, 1992 – Suns eliminated from second round of NBA playoffs in five games by Portland. Assistant coach Lionel Hollins says to Suns Chairman Jerry Colangelo, "We've got to get us a Charles Barkley."

June 17, 1992 – Suns trade for Charles Barkley, sending G Jeff Hornacek, F Tim Perry and C Andrew Lang to Philadelphia.

June 24, 1992 – Suns draft C Oliver Miller in first round.

July 3, 1992 – Suns sign free agent G Danny Ainge from Portland.

Oct. 18, 1992 – Barkley ejected from his first game as a Suns player, a preseason win over Boston in the debut of $89 million America West Arena.

Nov. 7, 1992 – Suns unveil new uniforms in opening win over LA Clippers; G Kevin Johnson begins season on injured list with abdomen strained lifting 300-pound Miller to celebrate preseason win.

Dec. 2, 1992 – Majerle's Sports Grill opens two blocks north of the arena, now dubbed the "Purple Palace."

Dec. 9, 1992 – Barkley's first triple-double keys 110-101 defeat of the Charlotte Hornets, lifts Suns to league-leading record of 12-4. They do not relinquish that position for the remainder of season.

Dec. 21, 1992 – Suns practice opened to public at America West Arena; 18,000 get in, more than 3,000 others turned away.

Dec. 30, 1992 – Kevin Johnson returns to lineup to help team blast Houston 133-110, completing 14-0 month, Suns' best ever, improving record to NBA-best 21-4.

Jan. 18, 1993 – Barkley hops scorer's table at Madison Square Garden, chases referee Jimmy Clark to dressing room, upset over officiating in loss to Knicks. Barkley suspended one game.

Feb. 3, 1993 – Suns reach midpoint of season at league-leading 32-9, tying club record.


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Feb. 15, 1993 – Dan Majerle falls for ruse by Colangelo that phony "sheik" wants to invest $10 million to franchise Majerle's restaurants worldwide. Joke videotaped, played in arena.

March 10, 1993 – Miller comes off injured list, reveals that he spent nights for six weeks at a hospital monitoring dietary intake to reduce weight. Claims to have lost 40 pounds, to 285, to ease burden on knees and feet.

March 16, 1993 – Suns clinch fifth straight playoff berth.

March 23, 1993 – A benches-clearing brawl against the East-leading Knicks in which six players were ejected resulted in league-record 21 players fined a record $292,500. Ruled instigator: Resident nice guy Kevin Johnson was suspended two games and fined $60,000. Among only four players on either side not disciplined: Charles Barkley.

March 28, 1993 – Barkley returns to Philadelphia for first game since trade, receives thunderous reception, scores 35 points in 110-100 win; fans break into chant of "MVP! MVP!"

April 6, 1993 – With 1.6 seconds to go after Suns lost 20-point lead on Lakers with 11 minutes left, Majerle takes inbound pass, makes 33-foot three-point basket for 115-114 win and Suns' first-ever season sweep of LA. Majerle jumps on scorer's table to celebrate as cheers last for minutes.

April 8, 1993 – Cedric Ceballos scores 28 but suffers stress reaction in a leg on final play of win at Sacramento.

April 11, 1993 – Suns clinch Pacific Division title with 112-99 win over Utah.

April 14, 1993 – Suns beat Minnesota 98-84 at home for team-record 60th win.

April 16, 1993 – Suns clinch best record in league and home-court edge throughout playoffs. Coach Paul Westphal proclaims final five games "exhibitions."

April 22, 1993 – Trailing by 1 with a half-second remaining at Portland, Miller fires inbound pass from midcourt off backboard. Barkley, just off injured list, scoops up ball and flings it in for 115-114 win, the signature play of season. Also symbolic: Kevin Johnson strains medial collateral ligament in knee during the postgame celebration, goes onto injured list for remainder of season.

April 25, 1993 – Suns finish franchise-record 62-20.

May 2, 1993 – Suns fall behind Lakers 2-0 in best-of-five first-round series; Westphal, criticized for "exhibition" declaration, guarantees Suns will win three straight and advance.

May 9, 1993 – Sixty seconds from being first No. 1 ever bounced by a No. 8 seed, Suns rally to force overtime, then Miller scores nine points, grabs five rebounds in 112-104 win. Miller blocks Suns playoff-record seven shots in game; they become first to come back from 0-2 deficit at home to win NBA playoff series.

May 13, 1993 – Suns playoff-record seven steals by Charles Barkley helps Suns to 109-103 decision over San Antonio and a 2-0 lead in second-round best-of-seven playoff series, reversing start at home in first round; first time Suns ever led a best-of-seven playoff series 2-0.

May 20, 1993 – Barkley, playing guard at top of 1-4 set, runs clock from 10 seconds to 1.5, makes 20-footer over fellow Dream Team Olympian David Robinson for 102-100 series-clinching victory at San Antonio.

May 24, 1993 – Ceballos gets surprise start in Game 1 of Western Conference finals against Seattle, responds with 21 points in 105-91 home win - but aggravates stress reaction in his leg.

May 25, 1993 – Barkley named NBA MVP, first Suns player ever to win award.

June 1, 1993 – Colangelo named NBA Executive of the Year for an unprecedented fourth time - no one else has more than two. Barkley goes for 43 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists, and Majerle makes NBA playoff-record eight three-pointers in 120-114 victory that lifts Suns one win from NBA Finals.

June 3, 1993 – Suns' hopes of clinching trip to Finals at Seattle dashed in 118-102 rout by Sonics. Ceballos' stress reaction degenerates into stress fracture, needs surgery and he is out remainder of playoffs.

June 4, 1993 – Chicago Bulls beat NY Knicks 96-88 to win Eastern Conference title 4-2 and advance to NBA Finals against Suns-Sonics winner.

June 5, 1993 – Tom Chambers, in only start of season, has 17 points, six rebounds, two blocked shots, and Barkley scores 44 points, grabs 24 rebounds in Game 7 as Suns move into NBA Finals with 123-110 Game 7 decision over Sonics.

June 9, 1993 – Suns show nerves in 100-92 Game 1 loss to two-time champion Bulls at America West Arena. Michael Jordan scores 14 of 31 points in the fourth quarter.

June 11, 1993 – Suns first ever to lose opening two games of Finals at home by falling 111-108 to Bulls. Barkley and Jordan score 42 points each, but Bulls forward Scottie Pippen sways game with triple-double.

June 13, 1993 – Down by two in third overtime of Game 3, Majerle makes Finals-record sixth three-pointer to start 9-0 run that carries Suns to 129-121 win in 3-hour, 20-minute marathon at Chicago Stadium that closes series to 2-1.

June 16, 1993 – Turning point of Finals: Down by two points in closing 33 seconds, Kevin Johnson has inbound pass go through fingers, Bulls' B.J. Armstrong grabs ball and feeds Jordan for game-sealing basket in 111-105 win that leaves Suns one loss from elimination. Jordan scores 55, second-most ever in Finals.

June 18, 1993 – Suns pull out 108-98 win that sends Finals back to America West Arena; Richard Dumas makes 12 of 14 shots, scores 25 points; Westphal proclaims, "We saved the city," referring to fear of rioting in Chicago if Bulls had won series in Game 5. At Sky Harbor International Airport, police estimate crowd of 12,000 greets team at 2:30 a.m. when charter jet arrives.

June 20, 1993 – Suns have four-point lead and ball with one minute to go, appear on way to Game 7 before Bulls cut it to two and have ball with 14 seconds. On inbound play, ball winds up in hands of John Paxson behind three-point line, who swishes shot that gives Bulls third straight title and shatters Suns' dreams 99-98. Series ends 640 points for Bulls, 640 for Suns.

June 26, 1993 – On hottest day of year to that point, 300,000 - three times crowd anticipated by Phoenix police - come to downtown Phoenix along 2.5-mile parade route; Barkley's convertible is mobbed, police have to remove him from parade before he has gone two blocks; Barkley acknowledges crowd from balcony overlooking America West Arena Plaza during post-parade ceremony.

June 22, 2003 – A decade later, Suns have yet to return to Finals; Bulls returned three times and won them all.

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