So this was the scene in L.A. last week - I'm sure we all remember that and much has already been said about how the Lakers and their fans are arrogant and horrible and bla bla bla and are mistakenly overlooking the Phoenix Suns. I believe it all and I hate them with a burning passion, but guess what - I don't care about the Lakers.
I don't care that they are the reigning champs and you know why? Because I've figured it out. Beating the Lakers isn't what this magical carpet ride of a season is all about, it'll be a sweet bonus. It wasn't about pimp slapping the smoke monster and the dreaded Spurs either.
No, No. This season is about vindication. 34 year old vindication. I understand the long running rivalry between L.A. & Boston, but Phoenix has its own axe to grind with team puke green.
As Scott Howard took us on the journey that was the revenge tour at the end of the regular season let me take you on a short continuation of that journey - a short-bus journey that will show how this year is all about how the Suns 'want Boston' more than the Lakers. It's our density... or what I meant to say was...
Let me first get this out of the way - I was born a good ten years after the Suns first appearance in the NBA finals, so I've had to do a little research to understand the subject. So if you know more about the history of this amazing franchise please feel free to correct, elaborate, or highlight different points as you remember them in the comments section.
THINGS ARE EERILY SIMILAR:
So we may not have the sweet nicknames this year that our beloved 1975-76 Suns had ( The Sunderella Suns, 'the little team that could', etc.) but there are a few similarities between that team and this year in 2010 that are definitely pretty crazy to behold.
First off, both teams started the year having not made the playoffs the previous year.
Both teams weren't projected to do ANYTHING.
Both teams had relatively new coaches - John MacCleod of the 75-76 team had only been the coach for a couple years ► Alvin Gentry is only in his first full year as head coach in 2010.
Both teams made big trades/acquisitions during the previous years/offseason. The 76 Suns saw greats like Neal Walk Connie Hawkins and Charlie Scott dealt while the likes of Paul Westfal, Curtis Perry, Pat Riley and Keith Erickson came in return. The 76 Suns also drafted a young talented center named Alvin Adams who was scouted for his reputation as a mobile big man with great hands and defensive awareness. ► The 2010 Suns also dealt big names like Shaquille O'Neil, Raja Bell, and Boris Diaw and in return came Jason Richardson, Jared Dudley and later Channing Frye. The 2010 Suns also drafted recently a talented center named Robin Lopez who was chosen for his defensive reputation and ability to be mobile. Both Alvin and Robin were in their Rookie seasons... Well Robin kind of IMO.
Both teams started the season in 'amazing' fashion. The 1976 Suns started their first 23 games with 14 wins and 9 losses. That was the best start in the young franchises history. ► The 2010 Suns started this season off winning 16 and losing just 7 in their first 23 games - which if my memory is right was almost tied with one of the franchises best starts or something like that.
Both teams hit a Slump during the middle of the season. The 1976 Suns team hit a BAD slump during the middle of the season in which the team went 4-19 and made everyone who had jumped on their 'hot-start' bandwagon immediately jump head first off and into oncoming traffic. It was a palpable "here we go again" moment for fans. ► This 2010 Suns team also hit a bad slump during the middle of the season where they sported a sub-.500 record and also had many fans and national media types playing the "here we go again" trombone. Seth documented this regular season's ebbs and flows pretty well in his post here.
Both teams have key players suffer big time injuries. For the 1976 Suns it was star guard Dick Van Arsdale who went down with a broken arm ► for the 2010 Phoenix Suns it was Robin Lopez breaking a foot.
Both teams turned up their level of play at just the right time. For the 1976 Suns it was an improbably run indeed to finish off the regular season. Jeff Munn at Suns.com writes of this end-of-the-season push,
Over the next six weeks, Phoenix would win 17 of 26 games and, heading into game number 81 of the season, an April 8 home date with the Los Angeles Lakers, two unusual circumstances surrounded the contest -- the Suns would clinch a playoff spot with a win, and a sellout crowd of 13,036 would watch.So the 1976 Suns would go 24-13 in their last 37. ► The 2010 Suns also turned on the gas and stepped on the jugular of their opponents in their final 37 games and turned in a 28-9 report card to finish out the regular season. That would be good enough for the 3rd seed in the fiercely competitive Western Conference and as we sit now (possibly good enough for home court advantage in the NBA Finals if Boston and Phoenix were to advance). I have no doubt Steve Kerr, Gentry and Co. also toasted drinks as the season ended. It was an improbably run for a team that was described as 'old' and 'paper thin' by some.
The game was never in doubt. Phoenix pounded the Lakers, 113-98. For the second time in the Suns' eight-year existence, there would be basketball played beyond the regular season. In the Suns' locker room, Colangelo, MacLeod and Bianchi toasted each other with champagne. In one sense, it did seem as if the goal had been reached. It would later prove to be just one of many milestones on an incredible journey.
The 1976 Suns had a bye/by in the first round.... ► The 2010 Suns destroyed the Blazers.
The 1976 Suns deleted the veritable Super Sonic in the Conference Semifinals - A feat thought IMPOSSIBLE by pundits and fans worldwide. ► The 2010 Suns viciously tenderized and ate on like Spam saltine crackers the long time bully that was the San Antonio Spurs. Nash would beat them for the first time in the Playoffs ever. This too was a feat thought IMPOSSIBLE by pundits and fans universe-wide.
Both teams faced the defending NBA Champions in the Conference Finals. For the 1976 Suns it was a team from California... but not the Lakers. It was the dreaded GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS. Led by the almighty Rick Barry... Now pay attention to this because it could be a prophecy - The Suns beat the Warriors in 7 games finishing off the series AT GOLDEN STATE. Proof below.
ON A SIDE NOTE / TANGENT► Now currently the 2010 Phoenix Suns find themselves in a dog fight also with the reigning champs from California. But duh, its the Lakers. And this series could go 7. And the Suns just might have to win AT L.A..
CHECK OUT the physical play in this game - at one point Rick Barry and one of our rookies get into a hardcore fight and Joey Crawford ejected both of them and subsequently called technical fouls on each and every person who proceeded to breathe too loudly after the scrimage - including fans.... RIGHT?! WRONG. Each team was issued a single Tech and everyone continued to play - PHYSICAL - BRUISING basketball.
Sigh. Only in a perfect world... Or at least in an NBA not under the omnipotent hand of Stern.
(AT THIS POUINT YO'RE THINKING TO YOURSELF... THIS IS CRAZY, LEILAND IS MAKING ALL THIS HORSE CRAP UP... NOPE - LIKE I SAID. IT'S EERIE AND CREEPY, BUT DESTINY IS LIKE THAT SOMETIMES)
Now for the Hypothetical.
IF AND ONLY IF The 2010 Suns beat the Lakers and IF AN ONLY IF the Celtics can hold off the surging Magic - we will again have another creepy similarity.
Both teams will have matched up with the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.
This my cyber-friends is why WE WANT BOSTON more than any chumps in L.A. might drunkenly fathom.
IT IS OUR DESTINY.
We will have traveled a long and sour road. We will have won battles of all sorts - from regulating our own style of play by injecting defense to adjusting and stabbing monkeys on our backs (the Spurs) and out mind-gaming the mind-gamer high wizard in Phil Jackson. We will have slayed ghosts of past - ghosts of present - and created our own ghosts of future for other teams in the league.
This my valiant readers is why WE WANT BOSTON. This is why the Phoenix Suns have to win. This is why the Phoenix Suns WILL WIN!
The following video is an uncut version of the best moments of the 'Greatest game of all time' which includes Gar Heard's famous "Shot Heard Around the World". During that 5th game of the 1976 Finals Al McCoy said something that I believe applies here with this team today. He said (though prematurely)
I believe it.
"In it goes to Heard, here's his jump shot ... GOOD! It's good! We will go to a third amazing overtime. I've got to take a breather," McCoy exclaimed. "I've got to tell you, somebody up there is on our side."
Here are a few other points I can think of right now that also make me raise an eyebrow at what is happening in the Desert.
- 2010 Suns Assistant coach John Shumate was also a player for the Suns during the 1975-76 Season. (though he was traded mid-season)
- Pivotal member of the 1976 squad was Alvin Adams who wore number 33 and is now a member of the Suns ring of honor. His jersey and number were retired... but Adams made a special exception for a member of this 2010 squad - Grant Hill who now wears his familiar 33.
If you can think of anything else or just have something to say about density or destiny give me a shout out in the comment section...
If you don't have anything to say - at least let me give you and all Suns fans a good Arnold shout out in preparation for our final games against the Lakers. Watch the video and get PUMPED UP!!!