E-Mail Debate: Best Suns Playoff Moments
The Suns.com guys are back at performing the American pastime of work e-mail chains. This time they’re delving into the archives of playoffs past, where the dot com crew draws out and debates the best playoff moments in franchise history.
Matt: Nine: the number of times Phoenix finished with a record worse than this year’s (48-34) and made the playoffs. It makes the current postseason (which has been nothing short of stellar) a little bittersweet for Suns fans, though that feeling won’t last long if the team keeps up its current trajectory under its revamped front office and coaching staff.
For now, though, let’s content ourselves with memories of playoffs past. There are a lot of them. Which series, game, play, etc. stands out to you? Go.
Greg: Everything in me says I should go with Charles Barkley’s jumper over David Robinson to win the 1993 Western Conference semi-finals. It was iconic, but, like many good things, it only lasted mere seconds. The moment that stands above all others is an entire game that involved Barkley.
It was Game 3 of the 1994 Western Conference first round series and with the Suns leading 2-0 with the chance to sweep – for you young kids the NBA’s first round used to only be a five game series – Charles took charge. He dropped 56 points, at the time the third highest point total in a playoff game, made Chris Webber look more foolish than calling a timeout he didn’t have and gave the NBA one of its most entertaining first round games ever.
It was such a good game that just three weeks ago it was on NBA TV at 10:30 p.m. and I stayed up to watch it all. Fun fact, Steve Albert was on the call of that game as the voice of the Warriors.
Ben: Hard to argue with Greg here...but I will.
For me, personally, it’s the 2010 sweep of the San Antonio Spurs. (There seems to be a theme here.) After being booted from the playoffs by San Antonio four times since 2003, sweeping the Spurs pretty much made (my) life right again.
Of course, we all know how that season ended but, goodness gracious, that was an amazing moment as a Suns fan.
Brad: You can’t forget about that amazing run back in 2006. I’m biased since it was my first year with the team, but there were so many great memories just from that postseason alone. Being down 3-1 against the Lakers and coming back, the Tim Thomas shot in Los Angeles, the Raja Bell shot against the Clippers (another seven-game series), and the Boris Diaw shot to win Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.
As we have too many times, we came up short that season, but for a team that entered the year without the services of Amare’ Stoudemire, the team provided more than its fair share of amazing memories.
Matt: Revenge plays a factor for me. The Spurs weren’t THE SPURS to Suns fans until the late 2000s. By then they had cemented their place as the black-and-silver gorilla on Phoenix’s back, one they couldn’t shed even after suffering stitches, broken noses, questionable defensive tactics, into-the-scoreboard body checks and just plain rotten luck. It’s a big reason that 2010 trumps ’93 for me, at least when strictly comparing series-to-series.
That being said, it’s hard to tell which series win carried more over-the-hump satisfaction: 2006 (Lakers) or 2010 (Spurs). The former saw the Suns trail three games to one, with a constant montage of Kobe Bryant’s Game 4 game-winner running constantly on highlight shows. While that one cut deep, the Spurs presented more of a chronic throb of pain.
A potential tie-breaker: the opponent’s reaction. To their credit, the Spurs took their improbable 4-0 sweep defeat gracefully, with Duncan even hugging Nash after Game 4. The Lakers were a stark contrast four years earlier. Bryant pouted his way decided to share the ball and took just three shots in the second half when the Suns pulled away.
If you’re a wholesome, circle-of-life kind of fan, 2010 probably hits a little closer to home. If you’re the vindictive kind, ’06 might be the way to go.
Greg: I feel like I have to defend our octogenarian friends who aren’t represented in this email thread.
Outside of Barkley versus Golden State, the greatest all around playoff performance in Suns history, the greatest play occurred on June 4, 1976. The “Shot Heard Round the World” has to be the greatest moment in Suns playoff history. After John Havlicek hit a bucket in the final seconds for the Celtics one second was put back on the clock to the dismay of Boston faithful and Gar Heard hit the improbable jumper to force a third overtime in Game 5 of the 1976 finals.
Beat that. It has drama, intrigue, bad calls made good and one of the most storied franchises in the NBA taking on the upstart Suns.
Matt: Does the end result matter? Five minutes after Heard’s shot, the Celtics were celebrating the win. That’s no knock on his heroics. If we’re still talking about a shot made by the losing team, you know it was one heck of a shot.
Ditto for Rex Chapman’s fall-away heave in ’97 against the Sonics. For whatever reason, the play seems to stick longer than the result.
Greg: As a long time Suns fan, it pains me to say this, but every moment technically ends in heartbreak so far. That’s the beauty of sports, it’s as much about living in the moment and enjoying what is going on as it is the end result.
Ben: Here’s the thing…there are so many iconic moments in Suns playoff history that I feel like they should trump the end result, no matter what it is (good or bad). I can’t be alone with this thinking...
Matt: Definitely not alone, but it’s hard to argue the “end result” side, too. To Greg’s point, there’s never been a title at the end of the rainbow. Game/series wins make for at least some tangible reward that makes the “moment” a little sweeter to remember.
While we’re on that note, hard to believe two other Laker series haven’t come up already: 1993 (“guaranteed” comeback after trailing 0-2) and 1990. Phoenix was a five-seed in the latter series, and crushed the first-seeded Lakers 4-1 in the second round. KJ’s stats against an in-his-prime Magic Johnson that series: 22.0ppg, 11.2apg, 5.6rpg, 2.8spg. Considering Phoenix was swept by L.A. the previous year in the conference finals, this one has to be right up there.