|Arena||US Airways Center|
|Team colors||Purple, Orange, Black, White, Silver
|General manager||Ryan McDonough|
|Head coach||Jeff Hornacek|
|D-League affiliate||Bakersfield Jam|
|Conference titles||2 (1976, 1993)|
|Division titles||6 (1981, 1993, 1995, 2005, 2006, 2007)|
|Retired numbers||10 (5, 6, 7, 9, 24, 33, 34, 42, 44, 832)|
The Phoenix Suns are a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona, United States. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the only team in their division not to be based in California. Since 1992, the Suns have played their home games at the US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix. The Arena is occasionally referred to as the "Purple Palace" due to its purple seats, which is one of the Suns colors.
The Suns began play as an expansion team in 1968. The franchise owns the NBA's fourth-best all-time winning percentage, winning 55 percent of its games, as of the end of the 2012–2013 season. In forty-six years of play, they have made the playoffs 29 times, posted nineteen seasons of 50 or more wins, made nine trips to the Western Conference Finals, and advanced to the NBA Finals in 1976 and 1993. As a result, based on their all-time win-loss percentage, the Suns are the most winning franchise to have never won an NBA Championship.
- 1 Franchise history
- 1.1 Team creation
- 1.2 1968–1976: Early years
- 1.3 1976–1988: From success to scandals
- 1.4 1988–1992: The Kevin Johnson era
- 1.5 1992–1996: Arrival of Charles Barkley and the streaking Suns
- 1.6 1996–2004: Average times
- 1.7 2004–2012: The Steve Nash era
- 1.8 2012–present: The End of the Steve Nash Era & The Start of the Slash Brothers
- 2 Season-by-season records
- 3 Uniforms
- 4 Suns mascot
- 5 Personnel
- 6 High points
- 7 The Annual NBA Outdoors Game
- 8 Emmy Awards
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The Suns were one of two franchises to join the NBA at the start of the 1968–69 season, alongside the Milwaukee Bucks. They were the first major professional sports franchise in the Phoenix market (and the entire state of Arizona), and would be the only one for twenty years until the Cardinals of the National Football League relocated from St. Louis in 1988. The team played its first 24 seasons at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, located northwest of downtown Phoenix. The franchise was formed by an ownership group led by local businessmen Karl Eller, Don Pitt, Don Diamond, Bhavik Darji, Marvin Meyer, and Richard Bloch, and also part of the group were entertainers Andy Williams, Bobbie Gentry and Ed Ames. There were many critics, including then-NBA commissioner J. Walter Kennedy, who said that Phoenix was "too hot", "too small", and "too far away" to be considered a successful NBA market. This was despite the fact that the Phoenix metropolitan area was (and still is) growing rapidly, and the Suns would have built-in geographical foes in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle.
After continual prodding by Bloch, the NBA Board of Governors finally decided that on January 22, 1968, Phoenix and Milwaukee would be granted franchises. They paid an entry fee of $2 million. The Suns nickname was among 28,000 entries that were formally chosen in a "Name the Team" contest sponsored by the Arizona Republic; the winner was awarded $1,000 and season tickets to the inaugural season. Suns was preferred over Scorpions, Rattlers, Thunderbirds, Wranglers, Mavericks, Tumbleweeds, Mustangs and Cougars. Stan Fabe, who owned a commercial printing plant in Tucson, designed the team's first iconic logo for a mere $200; this was after the team paid $5,000 to a local artist to design the team's logo, but were disappointed with the results.
1968–1976: Early years
Jerry Colangelo, a then-player scout, came over from the Chicago Bulls (a franchise formed two years earlier) as the Suns' first general manager at the age of 28, along with Johnny "Red" Kerr as head coach. Unlike the first-year success that Colangelo and Kerr had in Chicago, in which the Bulls finished with a first-year expansion record of 33 wins and a playoff berth (plus a Coach of the Year award for Kerr), Phoenix finished its first year at 16–66, and finished 25 games out of the final playoff spot.
Both Goodrich and Van Arsdale were selected to the All-Star Game in their first season with the freshly minted Suns. Goodrich would return to his former team, the Lakers, after two seasons with the Suns, but Van Arsdale would spend the rest of his playing days as a Sun and even become a one-time head coach for Phoenix.
The Suns' last-place finish that season led to a coin flip for the number-one overall pick for the 1969 NBA Draft with the expansion-mate Bucks. Milwaukee won the flip, and the rights to draft UCLA center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then known as Lew Alcindor), while Phoenix settled on drafting center Neal Walk from the University of Florida. While the Bucks went on to win the NBA Finals in 1971 and reach the Finals again in 1974, the Suns would not go to the Finals until 1976. The 1969–70 season posted better results for the Suns, finishing 39–43, but losing to the eventual Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. The next two seasons (1970–71 and 1971–72), the Suns finished with 48- and 49-win seasons, however they did not qualify for the playoffs in either year, and would not reach the playoffs again until 1976.
1975–1976: Trip to the Finals
The 1975–76 season proved to be a pivotal year for the Suns, as they made several key moves, including the offseason trade of former All-Star guard Charlie Scott to the Boston Celtics, in exchange for guard Paul Westphal, a member of Boston's 1974 championship team. They also drafted center and eventual fan favorite Alvan Adams from the University of Oklahoma and guard Ricky Sobers of UNLV. The Suns and Buffalo Braves made a midseason trade, with Phoenix sending forward/center John Shumate to Buffalo in exchange for forward Gar Heard.
Phoenix had an "up-and-down" regular season, starting out at 14–9 (then the best start in team history), then went 4–18 during a stretch of which the team went through injuries (including "Original Sun" Dick Van Arsdale breaking his right arm in a February game), but they caught fire, going 24–13 in the final 37 games to finish 42–40, clinching their first playoff spot since 1970. The Suns faced the SuperSonics in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, winning the series four games to two, and beat the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, four games to three, to advance to their first-ever Finals.
The Suns faced a battle-tested Celtics team, led by eventual Hall of Famers Dave Cowens and John Havlicek. The crucial Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals took place at Boston Garden, where the Suns came back from a 22-point first-half deficit to force overtime. Havlicek made what was supposed to be a game-winning basket, but due to fans rushing the floor before time officially expired, officials put one second back on the clock with Phoenix having possession of the ball, but under their own basket. Instead of attempting a desperation heave, the Suns' Westphal intentionally called a timeout that they did not have, which was a technical foul, giving the Celtics a free throw, which Jo Jo White converted to put them up 112–110. However, this advanced the ball to half-court, and once the Suns had possession, Garfield Heard made a buzzer-beating turnaround jump shot to force a third overtime. However, the Suns' hard-fought battle would be short-lived, as Boston's little-used reserve player Glenn McDonald scored six of his eight points in the third overtime to lead the Celtics to a 128–126 win. Boston eventually won the series in six games, clinching the championship at the Coliseum, defeating Phoenix in game six, 87–80.
1976–1988: From success to scandals
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Suns enjoyed several successful seasons, making the playoffs 8 seasons in a row. Problems arose however, on and off court, in the mid-1980s. 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 Jerry 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 both on and off the court.
1988–1992: The Kevin Johnson era
The Suns' luck began to turn around in 1988, however, with the acquisition of Kevin Johnson from the Cleveland Cavaliers, along with Mark West and Tyrone Corbin for popular All-Star power forward Larry Nance. This was the beginning of a franchise-record 13 consecutive playoff appearances. All-Star Tom Chambers came over from the Seattle SuperSonics (the first unrestricted free agent in NBA history), 1986 second round draft pick Jeff Hornacek continued to develop, and "Thunder" Dan Majerle was drafted with the 14th pick in the 1988 draft, (obtained via the trade involving Kevin Johnson). Kurt Rambis was added from the Charlotte Hornets in 1989, and the team (coached by Fitzsimmons), in an upset, beat the Los Angeles Lakers in five games that season, before falling to the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals. In 1991, the Suns went 55–27, however lost in the first round to the Utah Jazz, 3–1. In 1992, the Suns went 53–29. Having sent four players to the All-Star Game in the last two seasons (Chambers, Johnson, Hornacek and Majerle), the Suns were poised to make a serious run at the NBA Finals. They started by sweeping the San Antonio Spurs in three games in the first round of the 1992 NBA Playoffs. But again, the Suns fell in five games to the Trail Blazers in the Conference Semifinals. The series was punctuated by an electrifying Game 4, in which the Suns lost in double overtime 153–151 (the highest scoring game in NBA Playoff history to-date). That game would end up being the last Suns game ever played at the Coliseum. The Suns were again denied a shot at a title, but it would not be long before the Suns enjoyed a degree of success they had not experienced for quite some time.
1992–1996: Arrival of Charles Barkley and the streaking Suns
In 1992, the Suns moved into their new arena in downtown Phoenix, the America West Arena (now US Airways Center). The arena was not the only new arrival into Phoenix though, as flamboyant All-Star power forward Charles Barkley was traded from the Philadelphia 76ers for Hornacek, Andrew Lang, and Tim Perry. Barkley went on to win his first and only MVP that season 1993.
In addition to Barkley, the Suns added some key players to their roster including Danny Ainge and draft players 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).
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 Barkley, Majerle, Johnson and Ainge won 62 games, setting a franchise-record (since tied in 2004-05). In the first round of the playoffs, they defeated the eighth-seeded Lakers, coming back from an 0–2 deficit in the five game series. The Suns went on to eliminate the Spurs and Sonics, advancing to the Finals for the second time in franchise history. They eventually lost to the Chicago Bulls, led by eventual Hall of Famers Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. The series included a triple-overtime game (Game 3) that along with Game 5 of the 1976 series are the only triple overtime games in the history of the NBA Finals. Approximately 300,000 fans braved the 105 degree heat to celebrate the memorable season in the streets of Phoenix.
The Suns continued to be successful in the regular season, going 178–68 during the 1992–93, 1993–94, and 1994–95 seasons. They continued to bolster their roster adding players such as A. C. Green, Danny Manning, Wesley Person, Wayman Tisdale, and Elliot Perry. Despite a Pacific Division title in 1995, the Suns were eliminated in consecutive Western Conference Semifinal rounds by the Houston Rockets, both series going a full seven games. Manning was rarely at full strength with the Suns, injuring his ACL in 1995 just before the All-Star break. 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 each series.
At the end of the 1994–95 season, Phoenix general manager, Bryan Colangelo (son of Jerry) initiated what proved to be a very costly trade, sending the All-Star Majerle and a first round draft pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for John "Hot Rod" Williams. Majerle was a fan favorite 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 proved frustrating as Majerle's presence was sorely missed, and Williams's production never met expectations.
The 1995–96 season turned into a very disappointing year for the Suns (despite drafting All-Rookie First Team member Michael Finley, who was later unavailable for the playoffs due to injury) in which they posted a 41–41 record, and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs. Westphal was fired mid-way through the season and replaced by Fitzsimmons, the third stint as head coach for him. A combination of front office unrest, along with the dwindling possibility of winning a championship led 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, and Chucky Brown; the trade did not produce the results either team had hoped for. (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.) As for the Suns, three of the four players were not with the franchise just one year later, and furthermore two of the most talented players (being Horry and Cassell) constantly clashed with the coach and seemed to be a negative influence in the locker room.
In the 1996 NBA Draft, the Suns used their 15th pick for Santa Clara guard Steve Nash. 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 star point guards Jason Kidd and Kevin Johnson. With Kidd starting at the point, Nash was traded in June 1998, to the Mavericks in exchange for Martin Muursepp, Bubba Wells, the draft rights to Pat Garrity, and a future first-round draft pick (later used to select Shawn Marion).
1996–2004: Average times
After the Barkley trade, the Suns began the 1996–97 season 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. Despite the loss in the playoffs, the Suns became one of the few NBA teams, if not the only, to make the playoffs after starting the season 0-10 or worse, and one of the few to make the playoffs after experiencing a 10+-game losing streak during the regular season (last until the 2002 Toronto Raptors.)
In the off-season prior to the 2000 NBA season, the Suns traded for perennial All-Star Anfernee "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 beat the higher seeded San Antonio Spurs by ousting them from the playoffs 3–1 in the best-of-five series. The Spurs were without their best player Tim Duncan throughout the whole 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 2001–02 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 Amar'e Stoudemire.
The 2002–03 campaign saw the emergence of Stoudemire, a graduate from Cypress Creek High School (Orlando, Florida). He became the first and only high school player to win the NBA Rookie of the Year in the 2002–03 season (until LeBron James did it the following season), during which the Suns posted a record of 44–38 and returned to the playoffs. Marbury had a stellar individual season, making the All-NBA Third Team and being selected for the 2003 NBA All-Star Game. The Suns were eliminated in the first round once again by the San Antonio Spurs; a six-game series with the eventual NBA champions.
In the 2003–04 season, the Suns found themselves out of the playoffs. The Suns made a blockbuster mid-season trade sending Marbury and Hardaway to the New York Knicks for Antonio McDyess and a future first round pick, that was later dealt to Denver.
2004–2012: The Steve Nash era
2004–2007: Division Champions
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, finishing with the best record at 62–20, and tying a franchise record set by the 1992–93 team. This was a major, major improvement from its 29-53 record just the season before. They ended up setting a team record for greatest 1-season improvement, 33 games. This feat was made possible by the off-season unrestricted FA signing of All-Star point guard Steve Nash from Dallas who had formerly played for them at the beginning of his career. Nash would go on to win the MVP award that season. Amar'e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion were named All-Stars and first year coach, Mike D'Antoni, was named NBA Coach of the Year.
In the 2005 NBA Playoffs, Phoenix was the first seed in the Western Conference. The Suns swept the Memphis Grizzlies 4–0 and defeated the fourth-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the second round 4–2, Nash forced Game 6 into OT with a 3-pointer in the closing seconds. In the Western Conference Finals, the Suns played the San Antonio Spurs who won the series 4–1, ending Phoenix's season, partly due to Joe Johnson missing the first two games of the series. Joe Johnson went on to start the remaining games where he averaged 40 minutes per game and 18.3 PPG. The Suns lost the first 2 at home, as well as the following game in San Antonio to fall behind 3–0 in the series, escaping with a win in Game 4 at San Antonio 111–106. The team then lost Game 5 at home 101–95 to be eliminated from the playoffs. Stoudemire averaged 37.0 ppg during the series against the Spurs, the highest ever by a player in their first Conference Finals.
The 2005–06 NBA season began with Stoudemire undergoing microfracture surgery in his knee on October 18, 2005. He missed all but three games that year. Along with that, shooting guard Joe Johnson demanded a Sign and Trade deal to the Atlanta Hawks, in which the Suns got Boris Diaw along with two future first round picks. Other acquisitions that 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. Nash was awarded a second consecutive NBA Most Valuable Player Award, becoming the second point-guard (Magic Johnson was the first) to win the award in consecutive seasons. Also, 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. With 7:33 left in the game, Suns guard Raja Bell grabbed Bryant around the neck and threw him down as the Lakers star drove to the basket. Bell earned a technical foul, his second of the game, and an automatic ejection. The Suns took game 6 in OT, their first OT win all season despite 50 points from Bryant and Bell out serving a one-game suspension (for a flagrant foul against Bryant in Game 5) with last second help from mid-season 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 played closely, with both teams trading games on each other's courts. The series was 2–2 and The Suns faced a huge deficit 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 (out for two games of the series due to injury), and Barbosa as clutch playoff performers; and an overall team depth they did not possess the previous season. The Suns lost Games 5 and 6 by a combined 25 points and eliminated from the series on June 3, 2006 in Game 6. It was yet another disappointing end for the Suns.
2007–2010: Ups and downs
On June 6, former TNT analyst and NBA three-point specialist, Steve Kerr, was appointed Suns' General Manager and President of Basketball Operations. Kerr was also a part of the Sarver-led investment group that purchased the franchise from Jerry Colangelo.
On May 11, 2008, after the Suns had lost to the San Antonio Spurs 4–1 in the first round of the 2008 Western Conference Playoffs, Suns Head Coach Mike D'Antoni signed with the New York Knicks. And on June 9, 2008, Terry Porter was named Head Coach of the Phoenix Suns, succeeding Mike D'Antoni. Porter was an Assistant Coach of the Detroit Pistons when he was let go after the Pistons were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the 2008 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. During the offseason, the Suns had difficulties signing free agents because of being over the luxury tax. They made attempts to sign a backup point guard, Tyronn Lue, however, he decided to sign with the Bucks for more money. The Suns selected Robin Lopez (15th overall pick out of Stanford University) in the 2008 NBA Draft and acquired Goran Dragić, who was originally picked by the rival San Antonio Spurs.
On February 16, the Suns fired Terry Porter and he was succeeded by Alvin Gentry. The Suns were expected to make the transition back to the up-tempo style basketball nicknamed the "7 Seconds or Less" or "Run and Gun style." On February 18, Alvin Gentry began his head coaching tenure with a 140–100 blowout over the Clippers at home. Six Suns players scored in double digits, led by Leandro Barbosa's 24 points. The Suns led by as much as 50 points during the game and were without their swingman Jason Richardson who was serving a one game suspension. However, this offense cost them their defense, allowing over 107 points per game, 27th in the league. The Suns would score 140 in the next two games. On February 20 Amar'e Stoudemire underwent eye surgery and was out for 8 weeks. They went 18–13 under Alvin Gentry in the last 31 games. At the end of the season the Suns missed the playoffs with a 46–36 record. The offseason brought uncertainty for the Suns, with the possibility of rebuilding the base of the team.
During the 2009 –2010 season, the Suns played a far more balanced style of basketball and finished with a 54–28 record. The Suns advanced to the NBA's Western Conference Finals, eliminating the Portland Trail Blazers in six games and the San Antonio Spurs in four games, including an explosive performance by Goran Dragić in game 3 against the Spurs, scoring 23 points in the fourth quarter. The Suns faced the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, but lost in six games.
On June 15, 2010 Kerr resigned as General Manager of the Suns and opted to return as an analyst for TNT effective June 30, 2010. In the wake of Kerr's decision to leave the club, Senior V.P. of Basketball Operations David Griffin told Managing Partner Robert Sarver he did not want to be a candidate to replace Kerr and will leave once his contract expires June 30. The last moves of both Steve Kerr and David Griffin were drafting players Gani Lawal and Dwayne Collins with the second round draft picks that they had in the 2010 NBA Draft.
2010–2012: Slow decline without Amar'e
Since mid-2010, the Suns have been in a rebuilding mode. While the Suns did plan on resigning Amar'e Stoudemire in the 2010 Free Agency period with a 5 year contract for around $95 million, Stoudemire would only receive $71 million guaranteed, with the rest of his salary coming only if certain conditions were held, such as getting guaranteed 4th and 5th season money if he remained healthy enough to meet those conditions. However, during the summer of 2010, the Suns let superstar Stoudemire go to the New York Knicks since they were guaranteeing him $100 million, and hired player agent Lon Babby as president of basketball operations. The team then paid over $80 million to acquire Hedo Türkoğlu, Josh Childress, and Hakim Warrick to not only replace Stoudemire, but also add bench depth. On August 5, 2010, the Suns also hired Lance Blanks to be their general manager as a means to make moves for their future while also competing during this period. On December 19, 2010, the Suns acquired Vince Carter, Mickaël Piétrus, and Marcin Gortat from the Orlando Magic, along with a low draft pick and cash considerations. For this acquisition, the Suns traded Jason Richardson, Earl Clark, and the recently acquired Hedo Türkoğlu. On February 24, 2011 the Suns acquired point guard Aaron Brooks, trading first round (Lottery Protected) draft pick and point guard Goran Dragić to the Houston Rockets.
The Suns were looking to have more successes in the next season after missing the playoffs despite a successful run that resulted in a conference championship appearance for the team. In the 2011 NBA Draft in June 2011, the Suns used their 13th pick selecting Markieff Morris, standing about 6' 10", a power forward from the Kansas Jayhawks. Markieff is the twin brother of Marcus Morris, who played together for 3 years in Kansas and also currently plays for the Suns. In the 2012 NBA Draft, the Suns used their 13th pick to select Kendall Marshall, a 6'4" point guard from the North Carolina Tar Heels. Marshall was a prolific passer in his two seasons at North Carolina; setting the ACC and North Carolina season assist records, along with winning the Bob Cousy Award in his sophomore season with the Tar Heels.
2012–present: The End of the Steve Nash Era & The Start of the Slash Brothers
During the 2012 free agency period, the Suns began their transition from the Steve Nash era by trading Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for first round picks in 2013 and 2015, as well as second round picks for 2013 and 2014. After the trade, the Suns would then re-acquire point guard Goran Dragić from Houston, sign Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley, and also claim Houston forward Luis Scola off waivers while also using their amnesty clause (as codified in the 2011 collective bargaining agreement) to waive Josh Childress. They also did a three-way trade with the New Orleans Hornets and the Minnesota Timberwolves by trading Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick to the Hornets and a 2014 second rounder to the Timberwolves in exchange for Wesley Johnson, a lottery protected future first rounder, and the rights of Brad Miller and Jerome Dyson. The latter two players' rights were later waived and the Suns then signed Jermaine O'Neal for one year. The Suns also grabbed P. J. Tucker based on his performance with the Suns' Summer League team. On September 20, it was announced that Channing Frye had dilated cardiomyopathy. As a result, he would miss the entire 2012–13 season, although he sometimes made special appearances to do the pre-game show for local Suns games with Tom Leander and Tom Chambers. On January 12, 2013, the Suns would become the 4th fastest NBA team to win 2,000 games with a 97-81 road victory against the Chicago Bulls. That would also mark the last victory for Alvin Gentry as head coach for the Suns.
On January 18, 2013, the day after a loss that broke a 24-home game winning streak against the Milwaukee Bucks, head coach Alvin Gentry agreed to leave the Phoenix Suns organization. Two days later, it was announced that player development coach Lindsey Hunter would take on an interim head coach role for the remainder of the season. A few days later, both assistant head coaches Dan Majerle and Elston Turner had also resigned from their positions. On February 21, 2013, it was announced that the Suns had traded their 2013 second round pick to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Marcus Morris, the twin brother of power forward Markieff Morris. A day later, the Suns traded point guard Sebastian Telfair to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Iranian center Hamed Haddadi and a 2014 second round pick. The Phoenix Suns ended their first post-Steve Nash season with a 25–57 win-loss record. It was their second-worst record in franchise history, behind only their inaugural season.
On April 22, 2013, it was announced that the Suns had fired General Manager Lance Blanks, after the second-worst season in franchise history. Blanks had been the GM since August 5, 2010. On May 7, 2013, former Celtics assistant GM Ryan McDonough was announced as the new GM of the Suns. On May 26, 2013, the Suns hired former Sun Jeff Hornacek as their head coach to replace interim head coach Lindsey Hunter. A day later, the Suns hired Washington Wizards director of player personnel Pat Connelly and former Lakers assistant general manager Ronnie Lester as new master talent evaluators for the Suns. The Suns would also hire Emilio Kovačić as an international scouting consultant and Trevor Bukstein as an assistant general manager. Before officially announcing their newest assistant head coaches, lead assistant Igor Kokoškov ended up leaving to be an assistant for the Cleveland Cavaliers. On June 12, it was announced that not only was Hall of Famer Ralph Sampson no longer an assistant head coach, but the team would also have former Suns player Mark West and former Washington Wizards assistant coach Jerry Sichting as the team's newest assistant head coaches. The Suns would also later on announce that former Suns player Kenny Gattison and former Boston Celtics assistant coach Mike Longabardi would be added on to the coaching staff, replacing assistant coaches Noel Gillespie, Dan Panaggio, and Corey Gaines in the process, although Gaines would still do further work with the Suns organization. The team would also start the new season with modified logos that the team originally had, replacing most of the purple involved on their logos with black, although purple would still be found on their jerseys.
In the 2013 NBA Draft, the Suns would select center Olexsiy "Alex" Len from the University of Maryland with their 5th pick and power forward Alex Oriakhi from the University of Missouri with their 57th pick on June 27. In addition, they traded their 30th pick to the Golden State Warriors for shooting guards Archie Goodwin from the University of Kentucky (who was selected one pick earlier) and Malcolm Lee on the same day. On July 2, 2013, the Suns would agree to a trade involving the Los Angeles Clippers and the Milwaukee Bucks, where they would give up Jared Dudley to the Clippers and a 2014 second round pick to the Bucks in exchange for point guard Eric Bledsoe and small forward Caron Butler, both of whom last played for the L.A. Clippers. The Suns also agreed to trade Luis Scola to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee, and a 2014 lottery protected first round pick on July 27. The Suns would later on trade Butler to the Bucks for center Viacheslav Kravtsov and point guard Ish Smith on August 29. In addition, the Suns also waived one of their biggest signings from last season, Michael Beasley, on September 3, 2013. Finally, before the 2013–14 NBA season began, the Suns traded center Marcin Gortat, alongside guards Shannon Brown, Kendall Marshall (who the team drafted a year earlier), and Malcolm Lee to the Washington Wizards for veteran forward-center Emeka Okafor and a Top 12 protected 2014 first round draft pick.
The Phoenix Suns were picked to go 16-66 in the 2013-2014 season, that prediction was soon made to look foolish. Phoenix reached their projected win total 26 games into the season, going 16-10. Phoenix were cruising and critics were starting to believe they were a legit team in this years season. A twist in the plot of the season came when Eric Bledsoe (a main reason to the early success) went down against the Los Angeles Clippers with a torn meniscus. This injury occurred when the Suns were 19-11 on the season. Bledsoe would miss 33 games due to this injury and the Suns would go 17-16 during this stretch. Phoenix went over 500. during this period thanks to consistent play from Gerald Green, Markieff Morris, Channing Frye and Miles Plumlee. The main reason for the success was the break-out performance of Goran Dragic. Dragic lead Phoenix to a 36-27 record whilst Bledsoe was out and this set Phoenix up for a strong playoff push. Dragic was on the brink of an All-Star selection and is almost certain to make the team next year if his production stays consistent or improves. Phoenix were in a tight playoff race with Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks and ironically these 3 teams would all face each other in the last week of the regular season. Before these teams faced off, Phoenix was sitting at 47-32 whilst Dallas and Memphis were both 48-32. Phoenix lost against both Memphis and Dallas and beat Sacramento Kings to finish the season 48-34, Dallas beat Phoenix and lost to Memphis to finish 49-33 and Memphis beat both Phoenix and Dallas to finish 50-32. This resulted in Memphis finishing with the 7th seed, Dallas finishing with the 8th seed and Phoenix finishing with the 9th seed. This was unfortunate as Phoenix overachieved largely and a playoff berth would've been a great way for the young Phoenix team to top on what was already an amazing season. Phoenix has a large amount of cap space and are bound to make a splash in free agency, on top of this they have 3 first round picks in this years draft that could also be a good piece for a team Phoenix trade with, if they're looking to build through the draft which is projected to be very deep this year. Phoenix have valuable assets to give up in a trade also, especially Emeka Okafor who didn't play a game in the 2013-2014 due to injury. Phoenix overachieved in the 2013-2014 and it doesn't seem like long until they're back as a powerhouse in the Western Conference and one of the top teams in the NBA.
Since their debut, the Suns home uniforms are always white with purple and orange trim. On the road their uniforms are purple with white and orange trim, with accents of black during the 1990s and gray on the current versions. They also had a black alternate uniform during the mid-1990s.
Their first jerseys had the word Phoenix in a Western-stylized font. Those jerseys were worn by their beginnings up until the 1992–93 season, though it had revisions (e.g. the futuristic-looking 'Phoenix' wordmark used from 1968–74). During the remainder of the 1990s, Phoenix replaced the Western font with the new Suns logo being a part of their jerseys. Starting at the beginning of the 2000–01 season, the Suns ended using their normal font for Phoenix on the road and Suns at home. On October 20, 2003, an alternate orange uniform was introduced that was to be used at a minimum, five games a year, both at home and on the road. At the time, it was the only uniform in the NBA that has an abbreviated version of the city name, Phoenix, across the front chest; since then the Atlanta Hawks donned a similar alternate jersey starting in 2009, followed by the New Orleans Hornets in 2010. For the 2006–2007 season, the Suns removed the uniform number from the side of the shorts, replacing it with the same sun logo that is found on the other side.
During the 2010 NBA Playoffs, the Suns announced they would wear uniforms with the words "Los Suns" to honor their Latino fans on Cinco de Mayo for Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the San Antonio Spurs. Sports reporter Dave Zirin called the "Los Suns" action an "unprecedented political statement by a sports team." The move was also widely reported to be a protest of an Arizona illegal-immigration law enacted in April. The uniform has been used during NBA Noche Latina events every March since the 2007-08 NBA season.
The Suns would plan to introduce new uniforms for the team's 2013–14 NBA season. However, the Suns updated two of their alternative logos and the court design for the 2012-13 NBA season. The Suns would unveil the rest of their new logos the following season. The new uniforms that the team unveiled on August 15, 2013 by Alex Len, Archie Goodwin, Eric Bledsoe, P.J. Tucker, and Caron Butler (the last of whom would be traded two weeks later) included a sunburst of nine lines on the front of their jerseys signifying the nine players the Suns retired at the time, with the team returning to an ambigram Suns name for their home and alternative sleeved jerseys; Phoenix would remain on the road uniform with an updated style. An updated Sun would also be found on each of their shorts. The Suns proclaim these new jerseys as the "Speed of Light" jerseys. On November 26, 2013, the Suns revealed an updated version of their "Los Suns" Noche Latina jerseys that would be worn during a March 2014 game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Twitter. During the 2013-14 season, the Suns' jerseys would be a white home jersey, a purple road jersey, an orange alternative sleeved jersey, and a special "Noche Latina" black alternative sleeved jersey.
The Suns Gorilla
The Suns Gorilla is one of the more famous mascots in the NBA. For the first eleven seasons of their existence in the NBA, the Suns had no official mascot. An early attempt was made involving a sunflower costume, but it never caught on. In the winter of 1980, a singing telegram (sent by James Oberhaus, a loyal fan) named Henry Rojas from Eastern Onion Telegram service was sent to the arena in a gorilla costume. Security saw him and suggested to him to stay for a while to entertain the fans during the breaks. He kept coming to games until officially invited to be the Suns' mascot.
Since then, the gorilla, named Go, has been known for his slapstick humor during the games such as his stadium stairs all to the sound of the Rocky Theme, and the fantastic dunks that are performed before each 4th quarter. Also, one of his more beloved skits was at a Knicks home game where he came out to Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York", wearing a hat, with several pieces of garbage stuck to his leg. Halfway through the song, a group of "muggers" attacked him, and he staggered off the court afterwards. The gorilla was honored in 2005 when he was selected to be one of three inaugural members of the Mascots Hall of Fame. According to the Suns' website, the Gorilla graduated from "Hairy Truman" High School in "Mon-key West, Florida", and "Fur-Man University" in 1980.
Go has been played by three different men since his inception as their mascot. Henry Rojas performed for the Suns from the Gorilla's inception in 1980 until the end of the 1987-88 NBA season. Bob Woolf would take over the role afterwards, and he would help introduce some of the biggest staples Go holds. He would perform as the Gorilla from the 1988-89 NBA season until the 2005-06 season. The most recent Suns' Gorilla was Devin Nelson, who would perform from the 2006-07 NBA season until the end of the 2011-12 season. A new Gorilla is slated for reveal before the 2012-13 season commences. The new Gorilla is from Grand Rapids Michigan and is hailed as one of the best professional mascots in the world.
As part of their "Origin of Species" series, ESPN aired a special feature on the Gorilla, where he was regarded as "the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be" and "the Michael Jordan of mascots".
- Karl Eller, Don Pitt, Don Diamond, Bhavik Darji, Marvin Meyer, and Richard Bloch (also part Andy Williams, Bobbie Gentry and Ed Ames) 1968-1987
- Jerry Colangelo 1987-2004
- Robert Sarver 2004–present
- Jerry Colangelo 1968-1995
- Bryan Colangelo 1995-2006
- Mike D'Antoni 2006-2007
- Steve Kerr 2007-2010
- Lance Blanks 2010-2013
- Ryan McDonough 2013–present
Phoenix Suns roster
The following players have rights owned by the Phoenix Suns.
|G||Bogdan Bogdanović||2014 NBA Draft||27th Pick|
|F||Alex Oriakhi||2013 NBA Draft||57th Pick|
|F||Dwayne Collins||2010 NBA Draft||60th Pick|
|Phoenix Suns retired numbers|
|5||Dick Van Arsdale||G||1968–771|
|7||Kevin Johnson||G||1988–1998, 2000|
|9||Dan Majerle||F||1988–95, 2001–022|
|44||Paul Westphal||G||1975–80, 1983–845|
- 1 Also served as interim head coach in 1987.
- 2 Also served as assistant head coach (2008–2013).
- 3 Number was temporarily unretired for Grant Hill (2008–2012).
- 4 Was named one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players in 1996.
- 5 Also served as head coach (1992–96).
Phoenix Suns' All-Century Team
The Suns's All-Century Team was voted on by the fans:
- Guard Kevin Johnson, 1988–1998, 2000
- Guard Jason Kidd, 1996–2001
- Forward Charles Barkley, 1992–1996
- Forward Tom Chambers, 1988–1993
- Center Alvan Adams, 1975–1988
- Coach Paul Westphal, 1992–1996
- Guard Paul Westphal, 1975–1980, 1983-1984
- Guard Dan Majerle, 1988–1995, 2001–2002
- Forward Connie Hawkins 1969–1973
- Forward Walter Davis, 1977–1988
- Center Mark West, 1987–1994, 1999–2000
- Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons, 1970–1972, 1988–1992 & 1996
40th Anniversary Team
The 40th Anniversary Suns Team – selected by the vote of the fans through the Internet – was unveiled on January 3, 2008, when the Suns defeated the Seattle SuperSonics, 104–96, to celebrate the team's 40th season. The Suns' inaugural game in 1968 was against the Sonics.
- G Dick Van Arsdale
- G Kevin Johnson
- G Steve Nash
- G Walter Davis
- G Paul Westphal
- G/F Dan Majerle
- F Connie Hawkins
- F Tom Chambers
- F Charles Barkley
- F Shawn Marion
- F/C Amar'e Stoudemire
- C Alvan Adams
Basketball Hall of Famers
While no player has yet won induction based solely or primarily upon his tenure with the Suns, three enshrinees spent significant parts of their careers with Phoenix:
One player, enshrined primarily based upon his service with another team, briefly wore the Suns uniform during the middle of his career:
One player, enshrined primarily based upon his service with another team, briefly wore the Suns uniform nearing the end of his career:
One player, enshrined primarily based upon his coaching services with different teams, briefly wore the Suns uniform during the end of his playing career:
One individual, enshrined primarily based upon her services on advancing professional women's basketball, held her services to the team as a Vice President and announcer for the team:
One individual was enshrined based upon his service as a Suns coach, executive and owner:
In addition, four possible individuals will have a chance to bring representation to the Suns for the 2013 Hall of Fame:
- Kevin Johnson (Player: 1988–1998, 2000)
- Cotton Fitzsimmons (Coach: 1970–1972, 1988–1992, 1996)
- Paul Westphal (Player: 1975–1980, 1983–1984; Coach: 1992–1996)
- Paul Silas (Player: 1969–1972)
Members of Suns Ring of Honor
- Games – Alvan Adams (988)
- Minutes Played – Alvan Adams (27,203)
- Field Goals Made – Walter Davis (6,497)
- Field Goal Attempts – Walter Davis (12,497)
- Field Goal Percentage – Mark West (.613)*
- 3-Point Field Goals Made – Steve Nash (1,051)
- Three-Point Field Goal Attempts – Steve Nash (2,417)
- Three-Point Percentage – Steve Nash (.435)
- Free Throws Made – Kevin Johnson (3,851)
- Free Throws Attempted – Kevin Johnson (4,579)
- Free Throw Percentage – Steve Nash (.907)
- Offensive Rebounds – Alvan Adams (2,015)
- Defensive Rebounds – Shawn Marion (4,927)
- Total Rebounds – Alvan Adams (6,937)
- Assists – Steve Nash (6,997)
- Steals – Alvan Adams (1,289)
- Blocked Shots – Larry Nance (940)
- Turnovers – Steve Nash (2,301)
- Personal Fouls – Alvan Adams (3,214)
- Points – Walter Davis (15,666)
- * 150 games minimum
Bold denotes still active with team. Italics denotes still active but not with team.
Points scored (regular season) (as of the end of the 2013–14 season)
Other Statistics (regular season) (as of the end of the 2013–14 season)
- Grant Hill — 2008, 2010
- Shaquille O'Neal — 2009
- Quentin Richardson — 2005
- Steve Nash — 2005, 2010
- Connie Hawkins — 1970
- Paul Westphal — 1977, 1979, 1980
- Dennis Johnson — 1981
- Charles Barkley — 1993
- Jason Kidd — 1999, 2000, 2001
- Steve Nash — 2005, 2006, 2007
- Amar'e Stoudemire — 2007
- Paul Westphal — 1978
- Walter Davis — 1978, 1979
- Kevin Johnson — 1989, 1990, 1991, 1994
- Tom Chambers — 1989, 1990
- Charles Barkley — 1994, 1995
- Amar'e Stoudemire — 2005, 2008, 2010
- Steve Nash — 2008, 2010
- Don Buse — 1978, 1979, 1980
- Dennis Johnson — 1981, 1982, 1983
- Jason Kidd — 1999, 2001
- Raja Bell — 2007
- Paul Silas — 1971, 1972
- Dick Van Arsdale — 1973
- Dan Majerle — 1991, 1993
- Jason Kidd — 2000
- Clifford Robinson — 2000
- Raja Bell — 2008
- Gary Gregor — 1969
- Mike Bantom — 1974
- John Shumate — 1976
- Alvan Adams — 1976
- Ron Lee — 1977
- Walter Davis — 1978
- Armon Gilliam — 1988
- Michael Finley — 1996
- Amar'e Stoudemire — 2003
The Annual NBA Outdoors Game
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2010)|
The Suns hold an annual basketball exhibition game, the NBA Outdoors, every first weekend of October in Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California near the city of Palm Springs, California. The team owner Richard Heckmann has a home in Rancho Mirage, California also one of two homes by Lakers' coach Phil Jackson and the two teams share the market of the American Southwest, but the Suns agreed to participate in the last three games (2008, 2009 and 2010).
As a result of a recommendation by the Coachella Valley Recreation and Park District's Superintendent of Operations, Craig DeWitt, the NBA held its first outdoor exhibition basketball game on October 11, 2008. That stadium facility was built primarily for tennis tournaments and music concerts, and it can hold up to 15,000 fans. The Phoenix Suns lost the game to the Denver Nuggets. A second annual outdoor exhibition game was played on October 10, 2009, this time the Suns lost to the Golden State Warriors. On October 9, 2010, the Suns beat the Dallas Mavericks in the third annual outdoor exhibition.
In 2008 and 2009 pre-seasons, the Suns held training camp in the Auditorium in La Quinta, California and the College of the Desert Gymnasium in Palm Desert, California alongside the Portland Trail Blazers. But in 2010, the Suns began their training in San Diego and the Trail Blazers in Tucson, Arizona as well held exhibition games in Seattle, Washington.
In October 2008, the Phoenix Suns organization, along with partnered advertising agencies, were honored with 12 Emmy awards by the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
The Suns won an award in the Advanced Media category for a video on Suns.com during the 2007 NBA Playoffs, Raja Bell Reunion with Teammates, produced by Steven J. Koek. An Emmy was also awarded in 2008 for PlanetOrange.net, the team's official online fan community. The site was produced by Suns VP of Interactive Services Jeramie McPeek and powered by technology from social media application developer KickApps. McPeek was also awarded for the writing and producing of the virtual locker room site, SunsLockerRoom.com along with Daniel Banks. The Phoenix Suns also created a Twitter Central for their fans called Suns Twackle.
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