Tim Thomas was only a Phoenix Sun for 634 regular season minutes, yet he earns a coveted top 3 spot in the Seven Seconds or Less countdown.
Thomas had an interesting NBA career -- one that somehow managed to be significant in a somewhat insignificant way. The former McDonald's All-American was a highly touted prospect in high school due to his combination of shooting and athleticism, all in an NBA-ready 6'10 frame, and was traded to Philadelphia for Keith Van Horn in the 1997 NBA Draft.
He went from an upstart Sixers team featuring a young and brash Allen Iverson to the Milwaukee Bucks in a trade for Tyrone Hill, where he carved out a niche as a sweet-shooting combo forward. After the Bucks window of contention closed, he embarked on a journeyman career where many journeyman careers are first embarked on -- the New York Knicks.
It was with that Knicks that Thomas gained fame (or infamy) for calling the Nets' Kenyon Martin a "fugazi" after being on the business end of a particularly hard foul. Fugazi, aside from being the name of my favorite band, is a synonym for "phony", so Thomas was saying that Martin's tough-guy persona was fake, and everybody had a bit of a laugh.
Martin showed up the following day with a newspaper bearing the headline "WHINY TIM" taped to his torso.
Speaking of infamy, Thomas found his way to Chicago in the Eddy Curry trade of 2005. The Bulls decided to simply send Thomas home after only 3 games, citing an allegedly poor locker room influence. They didn't waive him until March 1, so Timbo basically took most of the season off and chilled.
This is the stuff of legends here, people.
Meanwhile, the Phoenix Suns were in the midst of their Amare-less 2005/06 season, and were still keeping pace in the West without their star big man -- largely due to the frontcourt rotation of Kurt Thomas, Shawn Marion and Boris Diaw.
Oh, and reigning MVP Steve Nash.
Things got complicated when they lost Thomas to a foot injury, prompting them to sign the maligned and recently waived Thomas on March 3.
Thomas fit the Suns like a glove, banging in 43.5% of his 3's during the final 26 games of the season.
The Suns nabbed the 2nd seed in the West and faced off against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.
No, not those Lakers.
Yeah, those were the ones.
It was supposed to be a cakewalk for the Suns, but somehow this happened:
Believe me, I hated having to dig up that video more than you hate seeing it here. So don't even.
If you can stomach it, skip ahead to the 2:40 mark. After Kobe Bryant's buzzer-beater, only Tim Thomas stayed on the court for the Suns while his teammates all had headed to the locker room. Then watch the weird thing Kobe does -- screeching like an 11-year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert while tugging his jersey to the side, sort of exposing his chest (heart? whatever...).
That part will be important later.
Anyway, that put the Suns down 3-1 to the Lakers, which is quite the unenviable position to be in -- especially as the 2 seed in a first round series. The Suns' vaunted offense, stymied during the previous three games, roared back in game 5 as the Suns stayed alive with an easy win.
The next game wouldn't be so easy, however. Raja Bell had taken a few too many Kobe Bryant elbows for his liking and responded by burying Bryant's face in the US Airways Center floor, and his famous (or infamous) clothesline had led to a game 6 suspension for the Suns' starting guard.
Depth was not a strongpoint of the 2005/06 Suns, by the way.
So the Suns had to find a way to win game 6 in Staples Center shorthanded, or suffer a humiliating defeat at the hands of the hated Lakers.
The game was definitely the Suns' preferred type, as the score heading into the 4th quarter was 88-85, Phoenix. Without Bell, the Suns had no answer for Kobe, who scored 50 points in the game on 20-35 from the field. The worst part for the Suns, however, was that they're own offense had gone cold in the 4th quarter.
Kobe put the Lakers up 105-102 with a driving layup over Marion, giving the Suns, who hadn't scored a field goal in the previous three minutes, 29 seconds to tie the game. A broken play eventually led to a missed corner 3 from Nash.
That was that. Suns fans could immediately point to the absence of Amare Stoudemire and say it never was supposed to be their year anyway. The NBA could bask in the glory of an LA vs. LA matchup as the Lakers moved on to face the Clippers in the second round. The Suns would be back next year.
It's ok, just go to sleep.
All they had to do... was Stay. Down.
Instead, Marion came away with the rebound and found Thomas on the perimeter, who let Lamar Odom fly past before calmly stepping into a dagger 3 that swished deafeningly through the net.
As if that wasn't cold enough, Thomas also mimicked Kobe's weird jersey thing after savagely sucking the life out of the building.
He then stepped into the warm embrace of Nikoloz Tskitishvili and the rest is history.
The Suns rained 21 points in during the overtime period and went on to crush the Lakers 121-90 in game 7.
Thomas continued his journey through the NBA after that. The Clippers, the Mavs and even the Bulls briefly (awwwkward).
He'll always be somewhat of a coulda-been player, given his talent as a youngster. But he broke the spirit of Laker Nation for a single, beautiful moment filled with equal parts glory and schadenfreude. And for that, he lives on.
This one's for you, Tim.