Throwback Thursday: Tony Delk’s 53 point game


On social media sites, Thursdays have turned into Throwback Thursdays. People post old pictures on their Instagram, Twitter or Facebook accounts every Thursday to showcase a special moment from earlier in time. ValleyoftheSuns has decided to join the craze to bring Suns fans some of the most memorable moments in the team’s history.  After playing two games against the Sacramento Kings this week we decided to throw it back to Tony Delk’s 53 point game in 2001 as the inaugural Throwback Thursday.

Date: January 2nd, 2001

Place: ARCO Arena in Sacramento, California

Set-up: The Phoenix Suns went into the new calendar year with an 18-10 record and traveled up to northern California to face a 20-8 Kings team. This was the  second game of the year between the two Pacific Division rivals with the first one being a Kings 105-98 win at home in the beginning of December. Going into the contest, Suns guard Tony Delk, a former King, was averaging 12 points per game and was making just his 9th start. In the eight games prior that he started, Delk was averaging a little over 14 points per game, but no one could have predicted what  happened on this night.

Game: Both teams played a pretty even first quarter with the Kings holding a three point edge, 29-26 after one. Delk led all scorers with ten points, a good quarter, but nothing that shouts 50 plus. Delk started out on the bench to begin the second quarter and the Kings promptly go on a 14-2 run to break the game open. The teams play evenly the rest of the half once Delk reenters the game, but the damage is done and the Suns trail by 15 at the half, 66-51. Delk scores 12 in the quarter to up his game total to 22 points, already near his career high of 26. The third quarter is when Delk begins to go crazy, scoring 14 points with 12 of them coming in the final 6:30 to single-handedly bring the Suns to within one point after three. Delk then scores 12 of the Suns first 14 points in the fourth quarter to give the team a two point lead with 3:58 to play. Going back to the third quarter Delk has scored 24 (11-12) of the Suns last 34 points to bring his total to 48. Point number 50 comes on a free throw with 2:15 left to give the Suns a 103-98 lead. Unfortunately, the Kings close the game on an 8-3 run to send the game into overtime where they pull out a 121-117 victory. Delk finished the game with 53 points on 20-27 shooting with 13 free throws.

Aftermath: The 53 point game remains one of the most unlikeliest 50 plus game in NBA history according to this writer’s opinion. Delk only started two more games the rest of the season and scored over 20 points just five times after. He finished the year averaging 12.3 points per game, which was a career high. The Suns finished the year with a 51-31 record and placed 6th in the Western Conference, which set up a rematch against the Kings in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. After an 86-83 upset in Game 1, the Kings won the next three games to advance to the next round. Delk was traded in the middle of the next season along with Rodney Rodgers to the Boston Celtics for a rookie named Joe Johnson, along with guards Milt Palacio and Randy Brown. Phoenix also got a first-round pick that would become Casey Jacobsen.

Where is he now?: Delk was an assistant coach for New Mexico State, but left over the summer to be closer to his family.

Video: NBA.com has the footage of Delk’s career night.

Tags: NBA Pacific Division Phoenix Suns Sacramento Kings Suns Throwback Thursday Tony Delk

  • SHAZAM

    cool jeffrey..like the mix

  • Sunsn7

    Ha I remember watching that game. What a zone he was in!

    Speaking of Rodney Rogers, that is who Markieff always reminded me of because of decent athleticism but settles for the deep ball…

  • Auggie

    That game is the reason Boston gave up Joe Johnson for him. … But what a game it was

  • EBJM

    Yeah, Tony was one of the last pieces BC brought in to tweak the last great Suns core before the fire-sale that reduced payroll prior to the Suns sale to Robert Sarver.

    Hardaway, one half of backcourt 2000 didn’t play much and Tony and Mario Ellie happily grabbed his minutes.

    Boston gave-up on Joe Johnson not quite at the half-way mark of his rookie season because as Fovever likes to point out about Ben McElmore, a lack of a “killer instinct”. J.J. was simply a very quiet, introverted kid who never became a “Gary Payton” type of vocal leader. They expected a lot more out of their #10 pick as they were a playoff team.

    We also has 2nd year center Tsakalidis, fan favorite Jake Voshkul and Daniel Santiago.

    I believe that was also the year Kidd was traded for Stephon Marbury.

    I think we also had Dan Majerle back for his final year at that time also.

    BTW a SB Nation Boston blog took a survey about the All-Time worst Celtic trades and the fans ranked the J.J. for Delk/Rogers at #1 with 35% of the vote.

    Payback is a bitch! Remember when the Celtics shipped the Suns Rick Robey for Dennis Johnson years earlier?

  • EBJM

    Sunsn7, remember Rodney Rogers was a classic “tweener”. The guy only stood 6′-7″ with his sneakers on. That is shorter that Marcus who plays primarily at SF.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    @ EBJM

    I used to root for Santiago until he was killed by Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men”….lol

    anyways EBJM….in your opinion what was the Suns best trade ?

    When we fleeced the Hawks by giving them Gary Gregor for Paul Silas …….or

    when Cotton orchestrated the Larry Nance + Mike Sanders + 1st round pick (which turned out to be the woeful Randolph Keys)…..for
    Kevin Johnson, Tyrone Corbin , Mark West & 1st round pick which turned out to be Dan Majerle ?

  • EBJM

    Hawki obviously for us old-timers Gary Gregor for Paul Silas was awesome but in terms of getting somebody great for nothing it would have to be sending Marty Byrnes, Ron Lee, two 1st rd picks and cash to New Orleans for the Len “Truck” Robinson. The guy just led the league in rebounding the previous season at almost 16 per game and was just entering his prime at age 27-28.

    The other factor is we added him to Paul Westphal, Alvin Adams, Walter Davis and Don Buse.

    The following year they might have made their 2nd best trade giving the Nets a 1st rd pick and a 2nd rd pick for center Rich Kelley who was 2nd in rebounding behind only Moses Malone. He also played alongside Truck in New Orleans and I think that year he averaged 16 and 13. Competing with A.A. at center Kelley NEVER accepted being called the back-up center, he was the “other” center.

    Anyway with Truck and Kelley the Suns won the Pacific division in ’80-’81. But despite lofty expectations that was the year the Suns lost to Cotton’s over-achieving Kings in 7 games.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Well played EBJM……although getting Barkley in a trade was better than getting Truck as far as PF’s go…..imo

    Suns are in a quandary now….if season ended today…neither TWolves nor Wizards would make the playoffs.

  • EBJM

    My main point Hawki was getting something for nothing. Suns were always a finesse team and getting Truck to upgrade Garfield Heard for what turned out to be nothing was huge. Many other executives claimed it gave Phoenix the best starting five.

    We all know getting Barkley was huge but Jeff Hornacek and Andrew Lang had NBA careers.

    Speaking of lottery draft picks and how the Wolves and Wizards are screwing us look at what the Knick’s are doing for the Nuggets. Yes, the Nuggets own the Knick’s unprotected 1st rd pick. But Denver owes the Magic the least favorable pick from their own or New York ‘s.

    Look at what Brooklyn is doing for Atlanta or Boston. Atlanta has the right to swap their own 1st rd pick with Brooklyn’s and then the lesser pick goes to Boston.

    Funny how these teams with the highest payrolls in the league are lottery-bound. A bit more irony is how Carmello took the Knicks away from Amare and now that he is finished as a player and still has a couple of years left on a unmovable contract, Carmello will bolt to the Lakers this summer along with another big name free-agent.

  • Foreveris2long

    When you consider we just picked up Goodwin with a 1st round pick from the Lakers for Nash and we get another 1st round pick in 2015 for Nash who could retire any day, this could be the best trade ever.

    Worst draft pick ever, MARSHALL!, however the phone lines are open so please call. with your respective opinions.

  • Andrew

    Foreveris, drafting Alando Tucker would be one of my favorites for 2nd place of wasted picks after Marshall

  • foreveris2long

    Yeah Andrew it too was a waste because the Suns tried to make him taller than he was. However some of us remember a center named William Bedford who the Suns drafted in the lottery who was a bust.

  • Andrew

    Foveris you are right plus Alando had no jump shot whatsoever just like Marshall. On the other hand Zarco Kabarcapa was a nice pick but too bad he got injured on a flagrant foul and was never the same again after that

  • Sunsn7

    Rex Chapman was underrated

  • Sunsn7

    EBJM I know Rogers was a “tweener”, im just referring to the both of them having girth and ability to get to the basket but both have shown the propensity to settle for perimeter shots.

    I just think Markieff isnt as good as he showed at the very beginning of the season but he’s not nearly as bad as he’s been playing. He needs to step up the ferocity.

  • Smovas

    Met Rodney at a Toys R Us the year he was traded and chatted with him about 5-10 minutes. Really nice guy. Too bad about the accident. I hate to see that happen to good guys.

  • Animan

    According to an unnamed GM, the suns will do everything in their power to sign Gordon Hayward to an unmatchable offer sheet (!!)

    https://twitter.com/PeterVecsey1/status/403428116812419073

  • HunterSThompson

    Good thing the NBA did not test for steroids/HGH back when Rodney was here. I had season tickets back then and that dude looked like a linebacker!

  • HunterSThompson

    Please, god! NO HAYWARD!!!!!

  • HunterSThompson

    Jesus. Just Googled Rodney Rogers and saw that in 2008 he crashed a dirt bike and is permanently paralyzed from the shoulders down. Wow……

  • HunterSThompson

    Thanks for the heads up, Smovas

  • http://shef1.com Stephen Shefrin

    That was an awesome game.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    The other night Hayward was 1-17 from the field & 0-8 from 3 pt land in the Jazz loss to the Pelicans.

    Jazz are so bad, they have already begun preliminary negotiations with Andrew Wiggins’ representatives.

  • Foreveris2long

    Please insert me in the No Fan Of Hayward Club. Is there a fee associated with the membership? Maybe I am biased and or blind but I like Gerald Green more than I like Hayward. I know someone is about to impeach me with some PERS or other stat but just watching them play, give me Green.

  • Scott

    The main problem I have with Hayward is the hair. heh

  • EBJM

    I’m also hoping the Suns do NOT offer Hayward a dime!

    Since we are REALLY making this a throw-back Thursday and speaking of Hayward how about a little Hayward draft pick trivia? BEFORE we gave Seattle two 1st rd picks to take Kurt Thomas, B.C. had already set precedent with a similiar trade.

    Remember when he shipped Marbury and Hardaway to New York in 2004 for the Knicks 2004 and 2010 1st rd picks.? Well later that year he shipped those two picks to Utah along with Tom Guliotta.

    Well six years later that 2010 pick turned out to be a #9 pick and Gordon Hayward. So the Suns are going to throw a lot of money at a player drafted with a pick they gave away to dump Gugliotta’s contract!

    Forever, William Bedford is my choice for worst Suns pick ever because he was selected #6th overall and was nothing more than a lazy drug-addicted bum. Complete waste of a seven-footer. Just like Alex Len, Suns were thrilled to find a legitimate seven-foot center with so much promise on the board at #6. Bedford coincidently just finished a ten-year prison stint in 2011 for transporting 25 pounds of marijuana.

    I wonder if he and Beasley are 2nd cousins or something?

    My 2nd choice would have to be the infamous Malcolm Mackey taken #27 and he played in a total of 22 games for Phoenix and was waived after only one season.

    He lasted 20 days with the Mavericks and 10 days with the Kings both stints in their training camps.

    Next up is Alando Tucker picked #29 because he was a 6′-4″ PF at Wisconsin BUT Marc Gasol was still on board and lasted all the way until #48 where the Lakers happily grabbed and stashed him for a year before trading him for his brother Pau.

    Next would be Ed Pickney at #10 because Karl Malone was still on board until the Jazz took him three picks later.

    Then the infamous Tim Perry at #7 ahead of Rony Seikaly, Rex Chapman and Rod Strickland.

    Back in ’89 the Suns passed on Vlade Divac and took Anthony Cook. They then sent Cook to Detroit for Kenny Battle and Michael Williams. All three didn’t do a damn thing but Divac ended up as one of six players in NBA history to record 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists and 1,500 blocked shots, along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett and Hakeem Olajuwon.

    We are not going to diss former #2 overall pick Armon Gilliam out of respect for his passing two years ago at age 47 and the fact he had a decent 13 year career in the NBA. Yeah, that draft was loaded but he had an awesome college career at UNLV where they went 93-11 during his time there and made a Final Four. UNLV’s 38 win season with Gilliam still stands as a N.C.A.A. Division 1 record for most wins in a season.

    He was a logical pick. Problem was he and Tom Chambers couldn’t play nice together.

    BTW I’m a bit biased as I am an U.N.L.V. alumni.

  • EBJM

    Hey Smovas, how far down did you have to look to make eye contact with Rogers?

  • Foreveris2long

    EBJM, man great stuff. I forgot about the Pickney and Divac drafts. so thanks for refreshing my recollection, I probably understand why they drafted Pickney after he had such a stellar NCAA performance that year. The Suns like a lot of the country fell in love with his heart. However I cannot think of any justification for the Suns passing on Vlade.

    Is Smovas NBA center starting material considering he was looking down at Rogers.

  • DBreezy

    I’ll go with a maybe on Hayward next summer if in fact the rumors are true which seems unlikely considering he’s an RFA. To make an obvious point, the draft will occur before free agency. Let’s say the Suns end up with Randle. While they wouldn’t stop running, they would likely become more like the Malone/Stockton Utah teams offensively, than than the Nash/Amar’e Suns. It’s very easy to see Hayward doing quite well in that type of situation.

  • HushPuppy

    That’s a bummer about the Wolves and the Wiz right now. Although I believe the Wiz pick is top 12 protected, so we would still get that if they are right outside of the playoffs. The Wolves pick is top 14 so they have to make the playoffs for us to get that pick if I’m not mistaken. In related news, boy oh boy those East standings are ugly. 4/8 teams at .500 or below. That’s outlandish! The Wiz are definitely good enough to start gellin’ and get us that pick. It will probably come down to the wire for that Minny pick.

  • EBJM

    Hey Forever, Georgi “The Balkan Banger” Glouchkov is the reason J.C. passed on Vlade. Glouchkov was averaging 23/19 in International play and was considered the 2nd best big man in Europe after Arvidas Sabonis.

    But he spoke almost no English and coach MacLeod had extreme difficulty giving him directions in games. Then he became fond of American fast foods and gained a lot of weight. There were also rumors of steroid use and after reporting to his 2nd summer camp 25# lighter than when they 1st signed him and a poor showing in camp they politely suggested he return to Europe.

    He was drafted in 1985, only four years before Vlade Divac. It was the Suns experience with Glouchkov that caused them to shy away from using a #24 pick on Divac as they only used a #148 pick (7th rd) on Glouchkov.

    If my memory is correct, Vlade and Drazen Petrovic were the first Europeans to make impacts in the NBA and they both entered the league in ’89, only four years after Glouchkov.

  • Smovas

    EBJM, for most of my life my best friends have always been about a foot shorter than me so when I talk to someone who’s similar in height, like RR, they always seem huge to me.