When I think of skullduggery relating to adversaries of the Suns four colors come to mind - gold, purple, silver and black. Hubris and heinousness. The braggadocios and the blackguards. The Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs.
The Suns used to be the Lakers punching bag for many years after entering the league, but that dynamic changed somewhat after the Suns first playoff victory over the Lakers in 1990. Since then the Suns have actually won four of six playoff series against LA and only trail by a margin of 67-59 head to head overall.
The Spurs, on the other hand, still seem to be under the impression that the Suns are a punching bag. The seven seconds or less era was marred by a series of hard fouls, dirty play and low blows at the hands of the Spurs, who seemed to subscribe to the philosophy that if you're not cheating, you're not trying.
The Suns have been one of the most successful franchises since they joined the NBA. Despite never winning a championship, they have the fourth highest all-time winning percentage in the league. The Suns only have losing records against the Lakers, Spurs, Celtics and Bulls (by one game). The Suns have had scrapes with other opponents like the Celitcs, Bulls, Trailblazers, Jazz, Rockets and SuperSonics, but none of these have matched the drama, animosity, or enduring qualities of the matches against the Lakers and Spurs.
Feel free to throw a couple haymakers in the comments or add to my list of high (and low) lights in these rivalries. I know we are usually sanguine and affable here at BSotS, but take this as your license to let these teams know what you really think about them. Cast your vote in the poll, too. Those results along with the ensuing discussion will be featured in an article tomorrow as part of SB Nation's rivalry week.
Links have been provided for all of the incidents listed below. Enjoy or lament at your discretion.
Tale of the tape: Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers
All time regular season wins – Suns 91, Lakers 130.
All time playoffs wins – Suns 24, Lakers 38.
Suns have won 4 of last 6 playoff series, but are 4-8 overall.
The Suns have played more games against the Lakers (283) than any other team.
First round of 2006 playoffs - Raja Bell clotheslines Kobe in game five. Tim Thomas hits clutch three. Kobe Bryant quits on his team in game seven.
Paul Westphal’s prediction after game 2 of the first round in the 1993 playoffs.
Steve Nash becomes a
perfidious traitor Laker.
Ron Artest tips in game winner during 2010 Western Conference Finals.
D’Antoni reacts to perceived slight by Phil Jackson "He might want to try to do it in playoff time when we bust 'em every time."
Tale of the tape: Phoenix Suns vs. San Antonio Spurs
All time regular season wins – Suns 72, Spurs 75.
All time playoffs wins – Suns 22, Spurs 25.
Suns are 4-6 in playoff series against the Spurs.
Barkley hits game winner over David Robinson in 1993 Western Conference Semifinals.
Nash plays with broken nose in game one loss in 2007 WC semifinals (injury is at 3:33). Robert Horry commits flagrant foul on Nash in game five of 2007 WC semifinals, Stoudemire and Diaw leave the "vicinity of the bench".
The commissioner sides with the San Antonio Sterns and suspends Stoudemire and Diaw for game five of the 2007 WC Semis. "But to listen to the palaver that Robert Horry changed the series is just silly. What changed the series is that Amare and Boris ran out onto the court." - David Stern.
2010 Western Conference Semifinals - One-Eyed Steve leads Suns to victory. The Dragon Slays the Spurs.
Bruce "Low Blowin’" is the dirtiest player in the NBA.
Tim Duncan finishes Suns off with unexpected three pointer in game one of 2008 first round playoff series.