COMMENTARY | The Phoenix Suns have had some great players wear the purple and orange. From Alvan Adams to Connie Hawkins to Charles Barkley to Steve Nash, the franchise has seen some amazing individual performances.
Let's take a look at the three best in franchise history:
No. 3: Charles Barkley, 6/5/1993 vs. Seattle SuperSonics
46 minutes, 44 points (12-20 FG, 1-1 3P, 19-22 FT), 24 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block
The Suns didn't want to come home for Game 7 of the 1993 Western Conference finals, but after losing 118-102 in Seattle in Game 6, they had to. Barkley had a very substandard Game 6, with just 13 points on 4-for-14 shooting. Barkley took it upon himself to carry the load in Game 7 -- and, boy, did he ever.
The Suns won 123-110 behind a remarkable performance by Barkley. He played all but two minutes of the game, pounding the paint over and over. He went to the free-throw line 22 times after going just eight times in Game 6. The Suns outscored the Sonics in every quarter en route to the 1993 NBA Finals.
42 minutes, 46 points (12-26 FG, 1-2 3P, 21-22 FT), 3 rebounds, 10 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
Many Suns fans remember this one. The 1995 Western Conference semifinals Game 7 in Phoenix was for the right to face the San Antonio Spurs. The Suns led the series 3-1 before falling apart and losing Games 5 and 6. Although Johnson's missed free throw was the turning point in Game 7, it was his amazing play that kept the Suns in it at all.
With 20.4 seconds left, Johnson finally missed a free throw after making his first 21. That may have changed everything. If the Suns would have led 111-110 instead of being tied, would they have run the trap defense that allowed Mario Elie to make a wide open 3 from the corner?
As it was, Elie made the 3. Down three, Dan Majerle stepped up and made two free throws with 4.7 seconds left. Clyde Drexler was fouled and calmly knocked down two freebies. The Suns had just 3.5 seconds and needed a 3.
Danny Ainge got the inbound and was fouled before he could put up a shot. Ainge made the first and tried to miss the second -- but made it off the backboard. The Suns stole the inbound pass but the near full-court heave was no good, and the Suns' fans hearts were broken.
No. 1: Charles Barkley, 6/1/1993 vs. Seattle SuperSonics
47 minutes, 43 points (16-22 FG, 11-11 FT), 15 rebounds, 10 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
Game 5 of the Western Conference finals was a must-win for the Suns. The series was tied 2-2 and the Suns needed to protect their home court. Barkley went above and beyond, as he sat for a scant minute of the game. His triple-double line of 43-15-10 with two steals and two blocks has still not been bested.
People tend to forget how good that Sonics team was. They had Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Ricky Pierce, Sam Perkins and Derrick McKey in the starting lineup, with Eddie Johnson, Nate McMillan and Michael Cage coming off the bench. They gave the Suns all they could handle that series and if it weren't for Barkley's heroics, the Suns may have missed out on the 1993 NBA Finals.
Michael Dunlap is an NBA credentialed writer who covers Phoenix Suns practices and games for the site he founded, HoopsHabit.com.Follow @DunlapNBA on Twitter!
- Sports & Recreation
- Phoenix Suns
- Charles Barkley
- Seattle SuperSonics