In an article posted Tuesday morning on The Ringer, writer Justin Verrier includes a quote from former Phoenix VP of basketball operations David Griffin indicating the team may have been privy to some exclusive information prior to building the famed “Seven Seconds or Less” Suns.
Verrier’s article examines the transition of success in the NBA moving from “being dictated by how many bludgeoning 7-foot-1, 325-pound mastodons you had on your team” to, “the best offense is a good offense, and the best defense may be a good offense, too.” This had everything to do with rule changes that were implemented prior to the 2001-02 season.
“Ahead of the 2001–02 season, the league pushed back by instituting new rules to open up the floor and promote skill over strength: illegal defense was eliminated, and defensive three seconds was introduced; the time allotted to advance the ball past midcourt was also decreased, from 10 seconds to eight. Three years later, hand-checking and body-checking calls were re-emphasized to further promote freedom of movement.”
Now it sounds like the committee that put those rules together was creating an NBA universe that would be very kind to a player like Steve Nash. Well, that committee was led by then-Suns owner Jerry Colangelo. And we know who returned to Phoenix before the ‘04-05 NBA season.
“We had a built-in advantage because Jerry Colangelo was the chairman of that board. We knew from the very beginning what was likely to come about. So we were able to plan for longer than everybody else,” said Griffin. “If you told Daryl Morey right now that three years from now the cap is going to be a number that only he knows, Houston’s going to have a pretty big advantage. We were able to build a team that’s pretty ahead of the curve.”
Ahead of the curve, indeed. As Verrier puts it, with the addition of Nash Phoenix now had “the perfect sports bike to weave through the big rigs that were being forced out of the lane.”
It would be two years before the league was able to exact its revenge against the Suns in the 2007 Western Conference Semifinals against San Antonio. Verrier’s read is fascinating and worth your time. Check it out.