Photo credit: Steve Nash/Instagram, Phoenix Suns/Twitter
The Phoenix Suns finally ended their postseason drought on April 28 (April 29, Philippine time), as they clinched a postseason berth for the first time since 2010.
The Suns nabbed the spot by defeating the Los Angeles Clippers, 109-101, at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.
Now the Suns have a guaranteed Top 6 finish in the loaded Western Conference. This means that even if the team loses all their remaining regular season games, they are safe from dropping to the dreaded playoff play-in setup.
That’s terrific news for Suns fans since the team was so close to the playoffs last year but missed the cut by a hair. While a celebration is in order for The Valley, the playoffs do seem like unfamiliar territory for the team.
When was the last time they were in the playoffs? Feels like it’s been ages ago, huh? It’s actually been 11 years since the Phoenix Suns have made it this far.
To put things into perspective, current Suns’ superstar Devin Booker was still in middle school when Phoenix last made the playoffs and starting center Deandre Ayton just turned 11 years old. (Oof. We feel our age!)
Perhaps the current team should take some pointers from the last Suns team to make it to the postseason.
Photo credit: Steve Nash/Instagram
The 2009-2010 Phoenix Suns
Prior to that dreadful 11-year losing streak, there was a time when the Phoenix Suns were one of the most exciting teams in the league.
Back when the NBA was not still not driven by analytics, the Suns were already ahead of the pack and prioritized 3-pointers and dunks over everything else. Mike D’Antoni’s innovative “seven seconds or less” offense was the ultimate recipe for fun and free-flowing basketball.
However, as dominant as they were at the time, the Suns never managed to reach the NBA Finals and often got bumped off during the Conference finale. The 2009-2010 season pretty much saw the end of an amazing run for the team. But boy, was it fun while it lasted.
The Suns’ incredible offense was made possible by their two-time NBA MVP playmaker Steve Nash. Yes, he is the very same Nash calling the shots for the Brooklyn Nets right now.
Feeling old yet? (Same!) The Canadian point guard ran a fast-paced offense to perfection. Apart from Nash, the Suns also had an interesting cast of characters.
Nash’s second-in-command and favorite pick-and-roll target Amar’e Stoudemire handled the scoring. Granted that this version of STAT (Stoudemire’s nickname, which meant “Standing Tall and Talented”) was already ravaged by injuries, he was still an elite talent at the time.
The starting unit also featured a young Channing Frye who developed into one of the most dependable stretch forwards at the time. Grant Hill also provided the Suns with leadership at that wing position. Then there’s the dynamic Jason Richardson, who drained triple after triple off of Nash’s brilliant passes.
The Suns’ bench wasn’t too shabby either. They had former Sixth Man of The Year winner Leandro Barbosa leading the second unit alongside a young Goran Dragic. Bigs like Lou Amundson and Robin Lopez manned the interior, while Jarred Dudley was still a productive player at the time.
That year, the Suns finished the regular season as the third-seeded team in the West with a 54-28 record.
The sixth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers, led by LaMarcus Aldridge, gave them a good fight in the first round and even managed to split the first four games of the series.
However, the Suns used their experience to take games five and six in order to advance to the next round against familiar foes, the San Antonio Spurs. This marked the 10th playoff meeting between the two rivals, with the Spurs getting the upper hand and winning six times. But history did not repeat itself as the Suns brought out the brooms and actually swept the mighty Spurs in four games.
Phoenix set up a date with reigning NBA champions Los Angeles Lakers and their superstar the late Kobe Bryant.
It was indeed a terrific series between the two competitive teams, as the Lakers used their home court advantage to win the first two, while the Suns bounced back on their home floor to tie the series.
The pivotal Game 5 went down the wire until Lakers forward Ron Artest followed a missed air ball by Kobe Bryant and drained the buzzer-beating game winner. The Suns never recovered from that and were eliminated in the ensuing game. What a wild ride!
After almost a decade, the Suns finally turned things around during the 2020-2021 campaign after trading for Chris Paul in the offseason. Devin Booker’s emergence as a true superstar also helped their cause.
So the Suns do have a fighting chance for the playoffs and can hopefully pick up where the 2009-2010 team left off.
Do you think the Suns will go far this season? Who’s your favorite player from the 2009-2010 season?