The buzzer sounded and the scoreboard reflected a resounding 27-point victory over the petulant Los Angeles Clippers. Patrick Beverly was nowhere to be found, Playoff P was looking more like Palmdale P, and, in the end, your Phoenix Suns punched their first ticket to the NBA Finals in 28 years.
So, that’s the end of the night, right? Everyone heads home, gets some rest, and waits for the Finals to start, correct?
The answer to that question may be “yes” if you are from some Podunk, Midwest town. But in a real sports town like Phoenix, Arizona, home of the greatest (and most beautiful) fans in the NBA, the end of the game is only the beginning of the celebration. Because when you love this team like this city loves this team, thousands of fans show up on a Wednesday night in triple digit heat to welcome the fellas back to the Valley.
#Suns fans gathering far and wide, awaiting the team’s flight back from Los Angeles: pic.twitter.com/nKWVfbeWkb— Trevor Booth (@TrevorMBooth) July 1, 2021
Lines everywhere, this is crazy pic.twitter.com/UV9s37jCXI— Trevor Booth (@TrevorMBooth) July 1, 2021
Reports originally came out that the plane was going to land at 11:21 p.m., but wheels touched down around 12:14 a.m. After an additional 30-minute (or so) wait, team personnel and players started to roll through.
Leading the charge as folks started to roll through was owner Robert Sarver. The crowd, perhaps not surprisingly, was relatively uninterested in Mr. Sarver’s appearance (save for one unidentified, vocal fan).
Next up, Western Conference Championship Trophy in tow, was the most-impactful player from the 2018 NBA Draft, Deandre Ayton, along with Torrey Craig. DA, of course, was his usual, affable self.
And he even let the fans get in on some of that trophy action.
Up next, both looking chill as ever, and appropriately serenaded with “MVP” chants, were Devin Booker and Chris Paul.
Not that the fans think that they’ll forget, but it doesn’t hurt to remind the fellas to bring it home.
Perhaps, low-key, my favorite moment of the whole night comes here, when you see a sheepish grin flash across the face of the normally-stoic Booker – showing that the oldest 24-year-old Chris Paul has ever met recognizes the magnitude of this moment and this run for the Suns and the Valley.
Next up? Everyone’s favorite salsa dancer, (SoSays) Jae Crowder. Give the people some salsa!!
More Jae, just a different way.
Of course, no celebration is complete without Cam Payne, rolling through with swag per usual.
Earlier, when I said Book’s smile may have been my favorite moment, I may have lied. Here, you see Frank Kaminsky hanging out the sunroof, but the moment I love is when you see that Mikal Bridges is the man behind the wheel. And, more specifically, when you see what might be the largest perma-smile ever on his face.
And last, but certainly not least, is Rookie-of-the-Year snub, Jalen Smith.
All in all, the night was exactly what it should be. A celebration. Every player on the Suns deserves this. Every member of the organization deserves this. This city – nay, this state – deserves this. And each one of us fans deserve this.
Yes, there is work to be done. Yes, there is a Larry O’Brien Trophy to be won. But keep celebrating for now, Suns fans. And I’ll see you at the next one after the Suns win four more. And there will be hugs.