by Mychael Ramirez

Headline

UNINTERRUPTED
Similarities run deep in championship cultures, even 15 years removed

It was December 18, 2006. The final buzzer rang and the Phoenix Suns defeated the Toronto Raptors 115-98 to secure consecutive win number 15 at home.

Next step was expected to be a 24 hour turn around trip to Denver.

Vice President of Basketball Communications Julie Fie recalls preparing for that trip 15 years ago.

“We had just finished six road games in eight days, including trips back east with stops in Boston and Orlando, so we knew going to Denver after the home win against Toronto for a quick one night trip would be easy.”

“You basically didn’t bring anything, just what you may need for the next morning and that’s it. Most of us just took the bare minimum. Even the training staff packed light for the game in Denver, so many of the things like notes, chargers, laptops etc, no one brought it.”

But mother nature had a different and colder plan for the scorching hot Phoenix Suns, dumping snow in a blizzard for the ages.

“It snowed so much we couldn’t play the Denver Nuggets on the 20th – we got snowed in for several days so much so we were confined to the hotel,” said Fie.

The game was postponed to later in the season, but the Suns had a date with the Washington Wizards back home in Phoenix on national television, the issue was getting home.

“We waited as long as we could for the travel conditions to improve but on the 22nd we had to bus out to try and get back to Phoenix for the game that night. We bussed down to Colorado Springs and at that point of time, we just had one bus. So staff, coaches, players, we all piled into a single bus for the trip down that took twice as long because of the conditions,” recalled Fie.

“It took us longer to bus from Denver to Colorado Springs than it did to fly from Colorado Springs to Phoenix. We finally got back to the Valley, and went straight to then-US Airways Center, arriving to the venue maybe an hour and a half before game time,” remembered Fie.

Despite the travel struggles the 2006-07 Suns led by two-time MVP Steve Nash fought admirably to maintain the streak, but ultimately fell to the Wizards in overtime as Washington’s Gilbert Arenas dropped 54 points for the victory.

The broken streak didn’t last for long though – the record was just a warm up of what was to come.

Just a few days later, the Suns would begin and set the now-franchise record of 17 consecutive wins extending from December 29, 2006 to January 28, 2007.

Nearly fifteen years later, the present day Suns have now tied the franchise record with their own 17-game winning streak following a 104-96 win over the Golden State Warriors at Footprint Center last night and securing the top spot in the Western Conference.

The Suns’ streak marks the NBA’s longest winning streak since the 2019-2020 season (Milwaukee, 18 games straight) and solidified a perfect month of November for the team.

For tenured front office members like Fie in her 30th year with the organization, she sees parallels to the 06-07 team and the 21-22 Suns.

“You had a team that was full of good people with a little different backgrounds, but the one thing they had in common was their love of the game and respect for one another,” said Fie.

One striking commonality is James Jones, who was a member of the 06-07 Phoenix Suns and now the 2021 Executive of the Year, General Manager of the Suns.

“When you have great chemistry and you have talent, that is really special – and that’s what they had then, and that’s what we have right now too.”

The Western Conference showdown signaled the first time in NBA history two teams from the same division met 20+ games into a season both holding a winning percentage of over .850 – with the Suns coming out on top.

In his 30th year also, Executive Producer and Director of Phoenix Suns Productions Bob Adlhoch sees the same connection between the Suns of past and present.

“It’s incredible to look back at that 06-07 team’s schedule, they lost five of their first six games, and then just ripped off all of these wins – similar to how this current team’s season began. There were hardly any L’s on the schedule the rest of the year – and they were going up against prime Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas, Kobe in Los Angeles, the big three in San Antonio…” said Adlhoch.

Beyond wins and losses, Adlhoch sees the roster and culture comparisons from the court to the bench.

“Looking at it now though, it’s really easy to draw comparisons to a generally young team then with a veteran point guard in Steve Nash to a generally young team now with a veteran point guard in Chris Paul that brings everything together. Both teams are talented, but what makes them special is that the sum is greater than their pieces, then adding the coaching of a Mike D’Antoni and a Monty Williams and you see how much that team and this one enjoys being together- you can’t fake that, these guys love playing the game and playing together,” added Adlhoch.

While the likeness of both squads transcends on and off the court, a lot has changed since the last time the Suns franchise won 17 consecutive wins. By January 28, 2007 when the team’s streak ended:

  • The Billboard Top 100 was dominated by Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable,” and the top-ten list featured iconic 2000s tracks “How To Save A Life” by The Fray, “My Love” by Justin Timberlake and “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance.

  • The first-generation iPhone would not debut until four months later.

  • Twitter had only been around for nine months and Instagram was still four years (2010) from launch.

The Suns will aim to keep the streak alive as they face off against the Detroit Pistons at home on Thursday before facing off again with the Warriors in San Francisco on Friday. For more in-depth news and stories on the Phoenix Suns, stay tuned to Suns.com and @Suns on social.

Photo Credit: Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images
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