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Center of the Sun: Suns history does not indicate quick return to NBA Finals

Your weekly roundup of Suns news, rumors, notes and videos from the prior week plus a preview of the week to come.

2021 NBA Finals - Game One Photo by Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

We’re still a week away from the start of training camp and looking waaaaaay too far forward to the post-season isn’t something I usually do but, like many other fans, I’m champing at the bit for a second chance at a title. While the players shouldn’t be looking beyond their next game, we fans have the luxury of not being held to that same standard.

Historically, 17 years passed between the Suns first trip to the Finals (1976) and their second (1993). 28 years passed between that 2nd trip and their appearance in 2021. The Suns have also had mixed results following their first two trips to the NBA Finals. The year following their first trip, they failed to even make the playoffs but did make it back to the Western Conference Finals three years later. After their second Finals appearance, it took them 12 years to make it back to the WCFs.

While those figures might make some cringe, none it means that a trip back to the Finals this season isn’t going to happen, just that it isn’t going to be easy. The past is just that and offers no real predictive value regarding this upcoming season. Those were different times and different teams.

Looking beyond the Suns’ past at NBA history, many times teams have made return trips to the NBA Finals in sequential years and on 13 occasions teams that lost in the Finals came back to win a championship the following year. Four of those happened in the past 10 seasons and five were within the past 13 seasons (Golden State in 2017, Cleveland in 2016, San Antonio in 2014, Miami in 2012 and LA Lakers in 2009).

Virtually no one, other than Suns fans, is picking the Suns to win the Western Conference and return to the Finals this year... yet. But with all the twists and turns that take place during a full season, no one can count them out either.

It’s just 30 days until the new season begins.

I’m feeling really good about this one. Time to write a new chapter in Suns history.


2020-21 Season Highlights

KNICKS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | May 7, 2021

TRAIL BLAZERS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | May 13, 2021

SUNS AT SPURS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | May 15, 2021


Quotes of the Week

“I think we’re a group that has been built to keep on striving to attain that level of success and capture a championship. It builds a lot of excitement going forward. It gives us a lot to look forward to and gives us a lot of confidence.” - Cameron Johnson

“I need to know when we’re on the court together, when I look around the court, I need to know you have my back because I got your back.” - Jae Crowder (via Cam Johnson)

“We wanted to make sure we had the types of guys that would embrace work and competition... and that’s where they shine.” - James Jones


News & Notes

2021-22 Phoenix Suns season preview: Roster changes, depth chart, key storylines and games to watch. Sporting News

Separating contenders from pretenders in Western Conference entering 2021-22 NBA season. Sporting News

James Jones On What Makes LeBron James And Chris Paul So Similar: “Yeah, They Care About Their Teammates.” Fadeaway World

The Suns X Factor For 2021-22 NBA Season, And It’s Not Chris Paul. Clutch Points

Jae Crowder’s impassioned speech when Suns were down vs. Lakers revealed by Cam Johnson. Clutch Points

Suns’ JaVale McGee gets brutally honest about how Shaq destroyed his reputation. Clutch Points

Former Suns player Cedric Ceballos now COVID-19 free, still hospitalized. AZ Family

Seven-time All-Star Joe Johnson says he’s ‘not done’ with NBA. Yardbarker

Michael Jordan Was Stunned His Team Shut Down a Critical Phoenix Suns All-Star as the Chicago Bulls Made History in the 1993 NBA Finals. Sportscasting


This Week in Suns History

On September 20, 2000, the Suns were involved in the 2nd largest trade in NBA history, a twelve-player, 4-team deal between the New York Knicks, Seattle SuperSonics, L.A. Lakers and Phoenix Suns.

In the trade, New York got Glen Rice, Travis Knight and a first-round pick from LA; Vladimir Stepania, Lazaro Borrell, Vernon Maxwell, a first-round pick and two second-round picks from Seattle; Luc Longley from Phoenix. Seattle got Patrick Ewing from New York. LA got Horace Grant, Chuck Person, Greg Foster and Emanual Davis from Seattle. Phoenix got Chris Dudley and a first round pick from New York.

On September 23, 1994, due to signing Danny Manning and Wayman Tisdale, the Phoenix Suns traded SF Cedric Ceballos to the LA Lakers for a 1995 1st round draft pick (Michael Finley). Ceballos led the NBA in FG% at 57.6% in 1992-93 and had career high’s in scoring and rebounding with 19.1 ppg and 6.5 rpg in 1993-94.


Suns Trivia

The 2020-21 Phoenix Suns had the biggest win streak in a single playoff run since 2017 as they won 9 games in a row between the first round (Game 4) and the Conference Finals (Game 2).

After making it to the NBA Finals in 1976, the Suns were in the playoffs 8 times in the following 10 years. After making it to the NBA Finals in 1993, the Suns were in the playoffs 9 times in the following 10 years. They only made it back to the Western Conference finals twice (in 1978-79, lost 4-3 to Seattle and in 1983-84, lost 2-4 to LA Lakers) during those two 10-year stretches.

The Suns have twice made back-to-back trips to the Western Conference finals. The first time was in 1988-89 (lost 0-4 to LA Lakers) and 1989-90 (lost 2-4 to Portland) under Cotton Fitzsimmons and the second time was in 2004-05 (lost 1-4 to San Antonio) and 2005-06 (lost 2-4 to Dallas) under Mike D’Antoni.

In the 10 years prior to Chris Paul being named to the All-NBA Second Team this past season, the only Suns player to be named to an All-NBA team was Goran Dragic in 2014 (All-NBA Third Team).


Important Future Dates

September 28 - Training camps open!

October 4 - Phoenix Suns @ Sacramento Kings (Preseason game) 7:00 pm PST

October 6 - Phoenix Suns vs LA Lakers (Preseason game) 6:00 pm PST

October 10 - Phoenix Suns @ LA Lakers (Preseason game) 6:30 pm PST

October 13 - Phoenix Suns vs Portland Trail Blazers (Preseason game) 6:00 pm PST

October 18 - Deadline for signing contract extensions.

October 19 - 2021-22 regular season begins.

October 20 - Opening Night: Phoenix Suns vs Denver Nuggets 7:00 pm AZT (ESPN)

December 25 - Phoenix Suns vs Golden State Warriors 3:00 PM AZT (ABC)

February 20, 2022 - NBA All-Star Game.

April 10, 2022 - Regular season ends.

April 12-15, 2022 - Play-In Tournament.

April 16, 2022 - Playoffs begin.

June 23, 2022 - NBA Draft.