Are the Phoenix Suns destined to be remembered by failure? It’s such a harsh way to think about a storied and celebrated franchise, but as this week’s Titleless series at SB Nation will show, many of the franchise’s top teams are known for their eventual inability to win the ‘chip.
The series’ goal is to “find the best non-champion in basketball.” You can read more about it here, as Mike Prada, the architect of the whole thing, breaks it down in detail.
tl;dr There will be four divisions with 16 teams each, and no more than one team from each era of each franchise can be selected (for the Suns, that means only one Seven Seconds or Less team, and only one Barkley team). The divisions are the Flameouts, the Overachievers, the Not Good Enoughs and the What Might Have Beens.
In some good news, the Suns were excluded from the Flameouts, which you can read here. Feel free to check out some of our other team sites to get the low-down from them on whether the right team from each era was selected and whether they placed in the proper category.
Fair warning for your sanity: The Suns will be prominently featured each of the next three days.
From 1976 to 2006, countless Suns teams were great enough to envision a title, but of course none have pulled out the top prize.
The most noteworthy is the 1992-93 team, one of two in franchise history to fight its way into the NBA Finals, on the back of an MVP campaign from Charles Barkley and perhaps Dan Majerle’s best season ever. That’s the season that spurred a generation of Suns fans and cemented the Valley of the Sun as a hotbed of basketball vitality.
(Let me use this opportunity to prod you toward a Bright Side podcast crossover between myself, Evan Sidery and Greg Esposito discussing the undercovered moments of that season.)
If you’re older and reading this, maybe you think the 1975-76 team doesn’t get its due. In all fairness, I think that’s completely fair, and I will be doing a deep dive on them on my own because Prada’s extensive research on several older squads (the 1946-47 Bullets get a shout out in Part One!!) made me excited to go down this heavily pixelated rabbit hole.
From my own perspective, I’m mostly just disappointed that only one 7SOL team could be featured. If you’ll allow, let me plug our podcast one more time, with some new perspective from Shawn Marion on the 7SOL teams:
By my estimation, the 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2009-10 teams all had a real stake in the conversation, and I may even argue the 2010 Western Finals team comes from a separate, post-7SOL era (maybe call it the Alvin Gentry era?). Alas, Prada is decisive in his ruling, and of course it gives us some room to argue and discuss.
We hope you enjoy the project this week, and that you heartily and aggressively stan for your favorite Suns non-champion. If we can’t have a real banner at Talking Stick Resort Arena, we might as well win this thing, right?
Vote down below and let the debating commence!
Which era had the best Suns non-champion?
This poll is closed
The Barkley era (1992-97)
The Nash era/7SOL (2004-2010)
Other (put your answer in the comments!)