The Phoenix Suns are a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona. They play in the National Basketball Association (NBA).
The Suns franchise was one of the factors that helped the greater Phoenix area attain a level of "big-city" status it was seeking in the 1960s and 1970s. The success of the Suns brought national and worldwide attention to the "Valley of the Sun" and the state of Arizona, paving the way in large part for the relocation of the Cardinals football franchise in the late 1980s, the relocation of the Jets hockey franchise (whom later became the Phoenix Coyotes), and the establishment of the Arizona Diamondbacks major league baseball franchise in the 1990s. While these teams draw their share of fans, the Suns have a special place in the sporting lore of Arizona as they were the first professional sports franchise in the state.
Today, the Suns make for an entertaining team to basketball fans in Arizona and throughout the NBA, with their trademark offensive-minded "run and gun" style of play, which stresses speed, full-court transition and high-percentage shooting (but also an emphasis on the three-point shot), sometimes (in the mind of critics) to the detriment of team defense.
On January 22, 1968, the NBA awarded expansion franchises to an ownership group from Phoenix and one from Milwaukee.
The primary investors in the Phoenix franchise at its inception had close ties to Tucson, Arizona's second largest city. They were:
- Richard Bloch, a Southern California investment broker/real estate developer and former Tucson resident (no relation to the Richard Bloch who was the co-founder of tax preparation provider H&R Block).
- Karl Eller, owner of a major outdoor advertising company and one of the Phoenix area's most influential business leaders at that time. He was a former football player for The University of Arizona;
- Donald Pitt, a Tucson-based attorney;
- Don Diamond, Tucson-based real estate investor who eventually replaced Eller on the ownership managing team.
All four men were alumni of The University of Arizona. According to the history section of the Suns website, other investors in the Suns included prominent entertainers such as Andy Williams and Henry Mancini.
According to the Suns website, the original logo was designed by Stanley Fabe, owner of a Tucson printing company, for $200.
The new Suns ownership group hired former Chicago Bulls executive Jerry Colangelo to be general manager (he was 28 years of age when he took the position). Colangelo in turn hired Johnny "Red" Kerr (as of this writing a broadcaster with the Bulls) to be the first head coach of the Suns. Kerr was forced to resign midway through the 1969-70 season, and Colangelo himself coached a few games. Cotton Fitzsimmons replaced Colangelo as Suns coach for the 1970-71 season. He took the team to their first winning season, with a final record of 48-34.
Fitzsimmons would return to the head coaching job in the late 1980s; he would go on to be greatly loved by Suns fans, wildly popular (and successful) as a coach, broadcaster and executive with the Suns organization.
In the 1970s the Suns experienced mild success, combining the talents of such players as Dick Van Arsdale (The Original Sun), his twin brother Tom Van Arsdale, Hall of Famer Connie Hawkins, Len "Truck" Robinson, Alvan Adams, and center Neal Walk. In 1976, the year the movie Rocky was released, the Suns proved to be a real-life basketball version of Rocky. They finished the season with 42 wins and 40 losses, but shockingly they beat the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors in the playoffs and went on to play the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals, giving the Celtics a tough battle before falling in 6 games. Game 5 was a triple-overtime classic that is considered by many to be the greatest game in NBA history, with Suns forward Gar Heard hitting a buzzer beating rainbow jump shot ("The Shot") to send the contest into the third overtime at Boston Garden.
Drug scandal; Colangelo takes control
The next few years for the Suns were not as successful. In 1987 the Maricopa County Attorney's Office indicted 13 people on drug-related charges, three of whom were active Suns players (James Edwards, Jay Humphries and Grant Gondrezick). These indictments were partially based on testimony from star player Walter Davis, who was given immunity. No defendants ever went to trial: two of the players went into a prosecution diversion program, while another received probation. Nevertheless, the scandal, although now perceived in many respects to be a witchhunt, tarnished the reputation of the franchise both nationally and within the community. The scandal did provide an opening for general manager Colangelo to lead a group that bought the team from its owners for $44 million, a record at that time.
With a drug scandal and the loss of promising young center Nick Vanos, who was killed in the crash of Northwest Airlines Flight 255, the franchise was in turmoil on and off the court. The Suns' luck began to turn around in 1987, however, with the acquisition from the Cleveland Cavaliers of Kevin Johnson, Mark West, and Tyrone Corbin for popular power forward Larry Nance. In 1988, Tom Chambers came over from Seattle as the first unrestricted free agent in NBA history, Jeff Hornacek a 1986 second round pick continued to develop, "Thunder" Dan Majerle was drafted with the 14th pick in the draft, which they obtained from Cleveland in the Kevin Johnson trade, and the team began a 13-year playoff streak. Kurt Rambis was added from the Charlotte Hornets in 1989, and the team (coached by Fitzsimmons), in a shocking upset, beat the Los Angeles Lakers in 5 games that season before falling to the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals. In 1991, The Suns stormed to a 55-27 record, however they lost in the first round to the Utah Jazz 3-1. In 1992, the Suns cruised to a 53-29 record during the regular season. While having sent four players to the all-star game in the last two years (Chambers, Johnson, Hornacek and Majerle), the Suns were poised to make a serious run at the NBA Finals. They showed their poise by sweeping the San Antonio Spurs in 3 games. But once again the Suns fell in five games to the Trail Blazers in the conference semifinals, however the series was punctuated by an electrifying game 4, in which the Suns lost in double overtime 153-151. The Suns were yet again denied a shot at a title, but in subsequent seasons enjoyed even greater success than ever before.
1993 NBA Finals and "The Barkley Era"
In 1992 the Suns moved into their new state-of-the-art arena in downtown Phoenix, the America West Arena (now US Airways Center). With the added revenue the Suns were now enjoying from their new facility, this allowed them to make some major roster moves. It started with the addition of flamboyant all-star power forward Charles Barkley who was traded from the Philadelphia 76ers for Hornacek, Andrew Lang, and Tim Perry. The luring of Barkley, one of the major national stars of the NBA, to Phoenix - one of the "small markets" in the minds of the primarily New York-centered sports media - was considered at the time to be huge. Many Suns fans believe that the addition of Barkley, "put Phoenix on the map". Barkley would go on to win his first and only MVP his first year with Phoenix in 1993.
In addition to Barkley, the Suns added some key players to their roster including former Boston Celtic Danny Ainge and drafted two young promising performers in University of Arkansas center Oliver Miller and forward Richard Dumas (who was actually drafted in 1991 but was suspended for his rookie year for violating the NBA drug policy). The Suns had a dynamic team that was hard to stop and captured the attention of fans not only in Phoenix but across the entire state of Arizona and the nation as well.
Under rookie head coach Paul Westphal (a former Suns assistant and, as a player, member of the 1976 Suns squad that went to the NBA Finals), the Suns squad consisting mostly of Barkey, Majerle, Johnson and Ainge won 62 games that year. After eliminating the Lakers, Spurs, and Sonics, the Suns advanced to the Finals for the second time in franchise history. They eventually lost in dramatic fashion to the Bulls, led by Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. This series included a triple-overtime game (Game 3); the Suns have been involved in both of the two longest-ever NBA Finals games. Thousands of fans later flocked the streets of Phoenix in a "victory" celebration of sorts, in appreciation of a memorable season.
The Suns continued to show great regular season success going 178-68 during the 1992-1993, 1993-1994, and 1994-1995 seasons. They continued to bolster their roster adding players such as A.C. Green, Danny Manning, Elliot Perry, and Wesley Person. Despite a Pacific Division title in 1995, the Suns ended up being eliminated in consecutive Western Conference Semifinal rounds at the hands of the Houston Rockets. In both years the Suns led the series by two games at one point (2-0 in 1994, 3-1 in 1995) only to see the Rockets come back to win the matchup.
At the end of the 1994-1995 season, Phoenix Suns general manager, Bryan Colangelo (son of Jerry) initiated what proved to be a very costly trade, sending all star guard/forward Dan Majerle and a first round draft pick, to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for John "Hot Rod" Williams. Majerle was a favorite amongst the fans in Phoenix as well as the Suns locker room. The trade was made to address the Suns' desperate need of a shot blocking center, but it proved in time to be unbeneficial as Majerle's presence was sorely missed, and Williams's production never met expectations.
The 1995-1996 season turned into a very disappointing year for the Suns in which they posted a 41-41 record, and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs to the San Antonio Spurs. Westphal was fired mid-way through the season and replaced once again by Fitzsimmons. A combination of front office unrest, along with the dwindling possibility of winning a championship lead to turmoil in Barkley's relationship with Jerry Colangelo who both spurned each other publicly. This led to Barkley being traded to Houston for Sam Cassell, Robert Horry, Mark Bryant, & Chucky Brown, but the trade turned out be very unproductive for either team, as Barkley's best years were behind him in Houston, as age and physical ability quickly caught up with an already aging Rockets team. As for the Suns, three of the four players were not with the franchise just one year later, and furthermore the two most talented players (being Horry and Cassell) constantly clashed with the coach and seemed to be a negative influence in the locker room. (The feud between Barkley and Colangelo has since been repaired, and Barkley has appeared at a number of Suns home games in the years since. He was also present to see his number retired into the Suns "Ring Of Honor" in 2004.)
In the 1996 NBA draft, the Suns used their 15th pick for guard Steve Nash, of Canada. Upon hearing the draft announcement, Suns fans booed in disapproval of the relatively unknown player, due to the fact that he had not played in one of the major college conferences.  During his first two seasons in the NBA, he played a supporting role behind NBA star point guards Jason Kidd and Kevin Johnson. On June 25, 1998, Nash was traded from the Suns to the Mavericks in exchange for Martin Muursepp, Bubba Wells, the draft rights to Pat Garrity, and a first-round draft pick which was later used to select Shawn Marion.
After the trade, the Suns began the 1996-1997 miserably starting 0-13 which was a franchise record for the worst start. During the 13 game losing streak Fitzsimmons stepped down as coach and was replaced by former player Danny Ainge. After an on the court altercation between Ainge and Horry, Horry was traded to the Lakers for former Sun and NBA all-star Cedric Ceballos. Cassell was later traded to Dallas for all-star guard Jason Kidd. With a mostly small lineup, the Suns put together an 11 game win streak that put them in the playoffs, in a series that almost upset the highly favored Sonics. In the off-season before the 2000 NBA season the Suns traded for perennial All-Star Anfernee Hardaway (also known as "Penny" Hardaway) stirring a large amount of hype by creating the tandem of Kidd and Hardaway, which was called "Backcourt 2000". However, the combination of Hardaway and Kidd was never fully realized as Hardaway would miss a number of games during the middle of the 1999-2000 season and Kidd would break his ankle going into the playoffs just as Hardaway began his return to the court. As the Suns, now led by the returned Hardaway entered the 2000 playoffs, they shocked the favored San Antonio Spurs by ousting them from the playoffs 3-1 in the best of five series. However, even with the return of Kidd at Hardaway's side in the next round, the Suns fell to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers in a 4-1 series.
The Suns continued to make the playoffs until the 2001-2002 campaign, when they fell short for the first time in 14 years. That season marked the trade of Jason Kidd, partly due to a publicized domestic violence episode, to the New Jersey Nets for Stephon Marbury. Lottery-bound, however, the Suns were able to draft Amare Stoudemire.
The 2002-2003 campaign saw the emergence of Amaré Stoudemire, who many have likened to Hall of Fame forward/center Moses Malone. His size and athleticism, along with a strong work ethic, have many anticipating him to join the ranks of Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Garnett as the best NBA players to have jumped from high school to the pro ranks. He was named the NBA Rookie of the Year for the 2002-2003 season, during which the Suns posted a record of 44-38 and returned to the playoffs. The Suns were eliminated in the first round once again by the San Antonio Spurs, but only after a six game series in which the Suns played the eventual NBA champions surprisingly close.
In the 2003-2004 season, the Suns again found themselves out of the playoffs. Following one of the worst pre-seasons in Suns franchise history, the Suns got off to a rocky start in the regular season. Convinced that the team was going nowhere, the Suns made a blockbuster mid-season trade sending Stephon Marbury and Penny Hardaway off to the New York Knicks. After the trade, the Suns continued to struggle, but the trade opened up opportunities for some of the Sun's young rising stars.
The Suns rise again (2004-present)
The beginning of 2004 saw the departure of the face of Suns management since the team's inception, when Jerry Colangelo announced that the Phoenix Suns were to be sold to an investment group headed by San Diego-based business executive (and Tucson native) Robert Sarver for $401 million. However, the 2004-05 season marked the Suns' return to the NBA's elite, with the Suns finishing with the best record in the NBA at 62-20, tying their franchise record that was set by the 1992-1993 team. This feat was made possible by the offseason re-acquisition of All Star point guard Steve Nash from Dallas. Nash would go on to win the MVP award that season. Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion were named All-Stars this year and first year coach, Mike D'Antoni, was named NBA Coach of the Year.
In the 2005 playoffs, Phoenix was the first seed in the Western Conference, and because it owned the NBA's best record, it was guaranteed home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. The Suns swept the Memphis Grizzlies 4-0 and defeated the number four-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the second round 4-2, Steve Nash forced Game 6 into OT with a 3-pointer in the dying seconds. In the Western Conference Finals, the Suns played the San Antonio Spurs who won the series 4-1, ending Phoenix's outstanding season. The Suns narrowly lost the first 2 at home fell behind 3-0 in the series but won Game 4 in San Antonio 111-106 but were eliminated at home 101-95. Amare Stoudemire averaged a staggering 37.0 ppg, the highest ever by a player in their first Conference Finals.
The 2005-06 season began on an incredibly sour note when Amare Stoudemire underwent microfracture knee surgery on October 18, 2005. He missed all but three games that year. Along with that, promising shooting guard Joe Johnson demanded a trade to the Atlanta Hawks, in which the Suns got Boris Diaw along with two future first round picks. Other acquisitions this year included Raja Bell and Kurt Thomas. Despite the turnover in players, the Suns were once again able to win the Pacific going 54-28 and capturing the second seed in the Western Conference. Steve Nash was awarded his second consecutive NBA Most Valuable Player Award, becoming the second point-guard (Magic Johnson was the first) to win the award multiple times. Also, Boris Diaw was named NBA Most Improved Player.
The Suns began the 2006 Western Conference Playoffs as favorites against the Los Angeles Lakers. After winning Game 1 in Phoenix, they found themselves trailing in the series 3-1 after impressive performances by Laker shooting guard Kobe Bryant. However, the Suns went on to win three straight games. They won Game 5 easily at home and Game 6 in OT, their first OT win all season despite 50 points from Bryant and Raja Bell out serving a one-game suspension (for a flagrant foul against Bryant in Game 5) with last second help from midseason acquisition Tim Thomas. On their home court, the Suns won Game 7 121-90, eliminating the Lakers for the first time since 1993. The Suns became only the eighth team in NBA history to win a playoff series after being behind 3-1.
In the second round, the Suns faced the Los Angeles Clippers. The series was a seesaw, with both teams trading games on each others' courts. The series was 2-2 and The Suns faced a huge defecit in Game 5 but fought back and won in double OT and after a Game 6 loss finally won the series in the decisive seventh game on their home court at US Airways Center, winning by a margin of 20 with an NBA record 15 3-point FG's May 22, 2006.
They went on to play the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals. Underdogs this time, The Suns took Game 1 in Dallas by a single point and their May 30 victory in Game 4 marked the most wins thus far for the franchise in a Conference Finals series since the 1993 season. Many credit this success (despite losing Stoudemire) to the emergence of Diaw, Bell (injured for most of this series), and Barbosa as clutch playoff performers; and an overall team depth they did not possess at all last season. The Suns fought hard in Games 5 and 6 but clearly missed the injured Raja Bell's hot shooting and defense and were finally eliminated from the series on June 3, 2006 in Game 6.
In the 2006 offseason, the Suns signed Minnesota Timberwolves PG Marcus Banks to a five-year contract worth about $21 million. Also, the Suns signed G Leandro Barbosa to a five-year contract extension beginning in the 2007-2008 season worth approximately $33 million. Boris Diaw was also extended to a five year deal worth approximately $45 million dollars.
Phoenix Gazette, January 22, 1968.
Arizona Republic, January 23, 1968.
"Suns continue ties to Tucson", Greg Hansen, Arizona Daily Star, April 17, 2004.
Michael Jordan Divorce News - Updated 11/11/07
The divorce settlement by Michael and Juanita Jordan has proved to be the most expensive in U.S. history. According to experts, Juanita is set to receive over $168 million as part of the couple's divorce. The settlement helps bring an end to the year-long on/off again relationship and establishes Juanita as a power player in Chicago... maybe she can buy the Bulls? :P
This is one of those instances where the two parties probably got equitable dividends from the relationship. Juanita and Michael were together forever, including his rise to fame in the NBA w/ the Chicago Bulls and later the Washington Wizards (still trying to erase this from memory). Her influence and poise throughout his career helped him maintain his high level of stature in the league & in the public eye. There were words of Michael cheating & sleeping around, as well as numerous gambling rumors during his career. All along the way, Juanita and the kids helped MJ keep a solid profile.
Michael Jordan Divorce News - Updated 2/3/07
Michael Jordan reportedly back w/ wife after brief divorce talks. After about a month of being single and without his wife, Jordan has apparently realized how much he needs Juanita & how much he wants to be w/ her and the kids.
"I think Michael realized that he wasn't capable of doing everything on his own, and he still needed a great supporting cast to surround him," said longtime friend and host of TNT's Inside the NBA Charles Barkley, who repeatedly pointed out that Jordan never had a child without Juanita around. "I don't expect him to be rusty. Knowing Michael, he'll want to get right back into the flow of things and immediately start making an impact by taking his children to school, picking up groceries for his wife, and, though he probably shouldn't force it, he may even try to do some things outside of his comfort zone like making his family dinner."
I'm really surprised to see this latest turn of events, especially since this is not the first time that the couple have had marital problems. Only time will tell if the divorce talks are officially over or if Michael and Juanita will get their day in court one day.
More Michael Jordan divorce news
Onion Sports: Michael Jordan Announces Plans To Return To Marriage
Jordan and Kidd, Pay Close Attention
Athletes, just say no — to marriage
Athlete divorce is still an ugly sport
Michael Jordan Files for Divorce
Michael Jordan Gets A Divorce After 17 Years
MJ is About to Become Roughly $300 Million Lighter in the Wallet ...
Some Thoughts on Michael Jordan’s Divorce
Original Article posted 12/29/06
Wow! Michael and Juanita Jordan are officially splitting this time. Juanita originally filed for a separation back in 2002, but took it back when Michael and her agreed reconcile the marriage. Evidently, the reconciliation only lasted another 5 yrs. Their statement indicates that it's a “mutual and amicable“ breakup... If the problem is tied to his infidelity, then this statement is just to save face in the media. I doubt that Juanita is ending this “mutually“.
Michael Jordan has been known to cheat on his wife in the past, so it's probably safe to say that his infidelity led to the split. After 17 yrs of marriage and 3 kids, the couple will take on new lifes apart from each other.
The most interesting part of the story will be the splitting of Michael's fortune. Michael is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and she's been there almost from the beginning, so it's probably safe to say that she'll get half of everything.
So we all knew the Suns were capable of scoring A LOT of points, but no one could've predicted Thursday night's scoring explosion by Phoenix and the New Jersey Nets. Words can't describe the game itself... you had to see it.
After two overtimes and a record tying triple-double by Jason Kidd, Steve Nash leads the Phoenix Suns to a 161-157 win. For the Suns it's their 8th consecutive win, which puts them only 1/2 game behind the Lakers for the Pacific Division lead.
Jason Kidd/Steve Nash - (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
The game featured Jason Kidd's 78th career triple-double, which tied Wilt Chamberlain for 3rd place all-time. In typical Kidd fashion, he finished with 38 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists. Unfortunately it wasn't enough, as Boris Diaw's runner in the lane with 14 seconds left virtually sealed the Phoenix win.
Nash scored 9 points in the 2nd overtime, matching every Nets possession. After a thrilling 48 minutes, plus the 1st overtime, it just seems like the Suns had a little more gas left in the tank than the Nets did. Amare Stoudemire and Raja Bell fouled out for the Suns, while Nenad Krstic and Vince Carter fouled out for New Jersey.
There are so many stats to highlight, so I'll just start from the top:
Phoenix Suns (box score)
- Steve Nash - 42 pts, 13 assists and 6 rebounds. (inc. 6-7 3's)
- Shawn Marion - 33 pts and 9 rebounds
- Raja Bell - 24 pts (inc. 6-7 3's)
- Amare Stoudemire - 23 pts and 11 rebounds (6th straight double-double)
- Boris Diaw & Leandro Barbosa - 16 pts each
- Team FG: 52%, 3-PT 55% (17-31)
New Jersey Nets (box score)
- Jason Kidd - 38 pts, 15 rebounds and 13 assists
- Vince Carter - 31 pts, 4 rebounds and 9 assists
- Richard Jefferson - 25 pts and 8 rebounds
- 4 other Nets scored in double figures
- Team FG: 56%, 3-PT 48% (10-21)
As you can see, the game was pretty even. The Suns scored seven more points on 3-point FG, while New Jersey scored five more points on free throws and outrebounded Phoenix 51-39. Combined, the teams shot 224 shots, including 52 3-pointers.
This game has to be an instant ESPN Classic... one for the ages.
Amare Stoudemire - (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)