There’s this old popular song “Tomorrow” that goes:
The sun will come out tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow
There’ll be SUN(s).
Just thinking about tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow
Till there’s none.
This song aptly describes the hopes and dreams of Phoenix Suns’ fanatics. The Suns have never won the NBA title in its 53 years in the league. But now, leading the Milwaukee Bucks 2-0, it looks like the Suns are finally ready to bring the coveted NBA trophy home to Arizona for the first time.
The Suns joined the world’s premiere basketball league way back in 1968 as an expansion team. Since then, it has never won the NBA crown, although it did reach the Finals twice. These were in 1976 and in 1993, and in both instances, they failed to bring home the crown.
In 1976, the giant-killing Suns caught the fancy of underdog lovers when the team, led by Paul Westphal, Alvan Adams and Dick Van Arsdale, upset the heavily-favored and defending champs, Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals 4-3. They would however fall flat 4-2 against the powerhouse Boston Celtics led by the legendary John Havlicek, Dave Cowens and Jojo White in the NBA Finals. Interestingly, the Suns’ star point guard Westphal had just joined the Suns in a trade from the Celtics themselves.
In 1993, a star-studded Suns team once again reached the Finals with a crew led by then league MVP Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle and Tom Chambers. They would however be stopped 4-2 by the defending champs Chicago Bulls, with no less than Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen at the forefront. Paul Westphal, their star player in the ‘76 team, would still be around, this time as their head coach.
In the early 2000’s, the Suns would once again be serious contenders for the crown, with Steve Nash, Amare Stoudamire and Shawn Marion leading the campaign. However, they would be shut down by the solid Western Conference line-ups of the San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Seattle Supersonics and the Utah Jazz.
After all those years of frustration and near-misses, it looks like the cage gods are finally rewarding Phoenix with a crown. Already endowed with a strong youthful core which gave a good account of themselves in the Bubble Games last year, the Suns further upgraded their starting 5 by bringing in all-star point guard Chris Paul, and veteran power forward Jae Crawder, who had just been through the NBA Finals war while playing for the Miami Heat. The twin acquisitions seem to be the key to the Suns’ finally getting over the hump in their quest for the elusive title. With Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton at the forefront, it looks like the NBA crown is finally theirs for the taking. And luck had much to do with this as well.
The Suns finished the regular season in 2nd place in the Western Conference. They trailed the defending champions LA Lakers in their first-round playoff duel 2-1. But a freak injury to Anthony Davis crippled the Lakers, paving the way for the Suns to prevail 4-2. In the 2nd round of the playoffs, they faced the Denver Nuggets, led by league MVP Nikola Jokic. However, a prior injury to Denver’s top guard Jamal Murray would doom the Nuggets’ hopes for another conference finals slot. The Suns would breeze through 4-0.
Finally, they reached the Western conference Finals against the LA Clippers. After playing against teams minus their 2nd best players in the first 2 rounds, this time, the Suns would face the Clippers minus their top player, Kawhi Leonard! The Suns, with more luck, would prevail 4-2. And then, in this ongoing Finals, the Suns are pitted against the Milwaukee Bucks, whose main man Giannis Antetokounmpo is just newly-recovered from a knee injury. Injuries – or the lack of – have been the game-changer in this year’s playoffs. This is not to demean the talents, the abilities of the Suns, but it seems that – through no fault of theirs – the road to the crown has been cleared by the gods.
But this is not to say that the series (at 2-0) has been won by the Suns. The Bucks have homecourt advantage in the next 2 games. They were in a similar 0-2 hole against the Brooklyn Nets before the injury card did the Nets in. The Bucks then are no strangers to this 0-2 situation. If they are able to solve the riddle of the Suns’ double-barrelled pick-and-roll attacks from Paul and Booker; if their defense reacts quickly to the Suns’ speedy ball movement; if the Bucks’ offense is able to match the Suns’ high-percentage 3-pt barrage; if Kris Middleton, Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez are able to provide ample support to Giannis in point production; and if luck gifts them with similar freak accidents that took out Kyrie Irving and James Harden in their series against the Nets; then perhaps the Bucks may still stand a chance.
It has been 10 years since the Suns last reached the playoffs. Having done so now, they are wasting no time testing the waters in the early rounds. Instead, they have gone straight to the Finals, and, in all likelihood, will go straight for the crown. A long time coming indeed. But certainly, all worth the wait. Hail to the Suns, who could become our newest member of the elite teams to have won the NBA crown.
The Sun’ll will come out tomorrow
So you gotta hang on till tomorrow
Come what may.
I love you, tomorrow
You’re only a day away.
For a closer look, just click on the pics. Cover pic courtesy of cbssports.com. Other photos courtesy of: libertyballers.com, azcentral.com, oregonlive.com, fansided.com, tvline.com, thesportsrush.com, tomsguide.com, decider.com, nba.com, bermansports.com, pinterest.com, Bleacher Report and essentiallysports.com.