NBA

It has been 53 seasons and never have the Phoenix Suns won an NBA championship. Maybe that sounds not so awful if you’re a Cardinals football fan and your last title dates back to 1947, when the team played in Chicago. 

But no NBA team has toiled longer, ever, without winning a single title. 

Now comes these 2021 Suns, with a chance to set all that right. 

I do hope so – for this Valley’s sake, and for all the Suns fans I call friends. I’m talking about guys like my buddy, Louie, a season ticket holder dating back to the Madhouse on McDowell. 

If Louie had a choice between missing a Suns game or missing a leg, I’m pretty sure he’d be on Amazon tomorrow searching for “single leg pants” and a prosthetic limb. 

Then there’s Troy, a genius with a video camera who likes to post a yellowed snapshot from his childhood, him in an ancient Suns jersey and headband, skinny arms held aloft in the classic jump-shooter’s pose.

 Each new post contains a caption written in the third person, grown man Troy talking to little boy Troy. The most recent:

“Western Conference Champions!!! Four more to go until that 48-year-old dream comes true, little self. Four more. @suns #suns #rallythevalley”

Is it sweet? Yes. Strange? Not at all once you learn that Troy’s 10-year-old son is named Nash, presumably – with apologies to Chris Paul – after the best point guard ever to wear purple. 

This team has always owned a hunk of the Valley’s heart, though Robert Sarver, the head Sun, tested the community’s collective patience for years.

 It was Sarver’s incompetence that led me to fall off the Suns’ bandwagon back around 2012. First, I gave up my season tickets, then I tuned out the great Al McCoy. Even now, my rooting interest in this team is more by proxy: I enjoy seeing my friends full of joy. 

Like Stephen, a giant of a man, an elected leader respected for his smarts and heart, who lately has traded in business suits and bolo ties for an assortment of Suns T-shirts, jerseys and Nike high tops. 

His statement after the series clincher over the Los Angeles Clippers? An image of Chris Paul in the arms of head coach Monte Williams. The caption: “No words needed!”

Some things words cannot accurately depict, like the emotional bond between a team and its hometown. 

Little else explains why 300,000 people – one out of 10 residents of the Phoenix metropolitan area – showed up Downtown on Saturday, June 26, 1993, for a parade to celebrate the Suns after their Finals loss in six games to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. 

People went so insane that day – when temperatures in the desert spiked to 114 degrees – Suns superstar Charles Barkley never got to ride in the actual event, because Suns’ fans refused to stop mobbing his convertible. 

Dan Majerle, a beloved member of that Suns squad, nailed it in a 2018 interview celebrating the team’s 50th anniversary.

“We had such a great team,” Thunder Dan explained. “Honestly my thought was, this is unbelievable, we’ll be back next year. We’ll be back the next two or three years. … You enjoy it, thinking this is unbelievable, we’re gonna do it again.”

The Basketball Gods are fickle in the extreme. Again, they took 28 years to arrive. Now it’s here. Let us hope the next time Phoenix parades, it’s to honor a champion.