Back in the 7SOL (Seven Seconds Or Less) era the Suns had to schedule unwrapping gifts around game day preparations.
From 2007-2009 many Phoenicians also had to schedule Christmas day activities around game time.
In 2007 the Suns lost to the Lakers 122-115 at the Staples Center. Kobe Bryant led all players with 38 points. That was the Lakers team that sported Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum (28 points and 12 rebounds in the game), Trevor Ariza and Derek Fisher and eventually lost to the Celtics in the Finals. Overall, a very pugnacious collection of players.
The Suns had seven players in double figures that game (out of eight who played in one of those beloved tight rotations). One of those was Brian “B-Skin” Skinner, who played in 66 games for the Suns that season, but for some reason not one remarkable moment comes to mind.
In 2008 the Suns lost a heart breaker at home to the Spurs 91-90 on a three point dagger by Roger “Lump of Coal in your Stocking” Mason at the buzzer. I bet you can’t guess who was guilty of leaving him open in the corner (Hint: it was Jason Richardson). But at least J-Rich learned his lesson about playing until the buzzer and another final second lapse would never come back to haunt the team.
For any of you mawkish (masochistic) fans like me who want to relive that cherished moment I’ve been generous enough to link to it right here. You’re welcome.
I won’t go into the rest of the denizens of that Spurs squad because all of them were pretty much equally distasteful during that era. Shaquille “Diesel in the Desert” O’Neal had 23 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks in the loss.
Then there was 2009.
The NBA decided to throw the Suns a softball after consecutive tough holiday losses to bitter rivals.
In 2009, the Suns last appearance on Christmas day, the Clippers came to town.
The Suns boat raced the Clippers 124-93 at (pre-Stick) US Airways Center. These were the Donald Sterling, pre-Paul Clippers and they played every bit like the league’s whipping boy. Stoudemire led the Suns with 26 points and Jared “TMZ” Dudley added 18 points off the bench.
The Clippers that year consisted of Rasual Butler, Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon, Marcus Camby and... Brian “B-Skin” Skinner.
As a reminder, this was when things were still somewhat ok (19-11), before a nasty 7-10 stretch threatened to implode the season (26-21), culminating in the fourth quarter benching of Stoudemire against the Mavericks, which flipped a switch and resulted in him playing like the league MVP to close out the season and the Suns “Bench Mob” helping the Suns reach the WCF before somebody (I can’t quite remember who) forgot to box out Ron Artest.
Since then those teams have had quite the reversal of fortunes. The Clippers are currently riding a streak of five consecutive playoff appearances (soon to be six) while the Suns are mired in a new version of 7SOL (Seven Seasons Of Suck) and are in the midst of their seventh straight season out of the playoffs.
The Clippers have transitioned from slumlord Donald Sterling to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and the Suns have transitioned from Robert Sarver to Robert Sarver.
And the Grinch stole Christmas Day games from Suns fans.
Even in the 2011 lockout shortened season, which started on Christmas day, the Suns got stiffed and kicked off their campaign against the New Orleans Hornets (the pre-Pierre version) on the 26th.
Despite last week’s iteration of #TBT alluding to the decline of Phoenix Suns basketball coinciding with the arrival of Shannon “the Cannon” Brown, I think most people would agree that the real tipping point of this declivitous descent was the departure of Amar’e “the Apostrophied One” Stoudemire.
On December 25th 2010 while Hakim “the Flying Pharaoh” Warrick was at home enjoying his turkey and cranberry sauce, the Knicks were busy beating the Bulls 103-95 behind 20 points, 10 rebounds and 6 blocks from STAT.
Apparently Hedo “the Pizza Guy” Turkoglu didn’t pique the interest of the NBA schedule makers.
Overall, the Suns are 12-6 in Christmas day games. The Portland Trail Blazers (14-3) and Miami Heat (10-2) lead the pack in that category.
But until Cindy Lou Who returns our Christmas spirit we’ll have to settle for our leftover memories... and unfortunately in 2017 I don’t think we’ll be unwrapping any Phoenix Suns Christmas Day games.