In this week’s Throwback Thursday, I got the chance to talk briefly with former Phoenix Suns forward and current Boston Celtics assistant coach Walter McCarty. He discussed his brief time in Phoenix that started weeks before the 2005 trade deadline and the 2005 Western Conference Finals series against the San Antonio Spurs.
We all know the story of the 2004-05 Phoenix Suns. After winning 29 games the season prior, general manager Bryan Colangelo brought inand, well… you all know the rest. The Suns won 62 games. Nash won the first of two consecutive MVP awards and led the team all the way to the Western Conference Finals before falling in five games to those dreaded San Antonio Spurs. It was the start of the “7 Seconds or Less” era that brought Suns fans many wins and lots of joy.
During that season, the Suns made a deal prior to the trade deadline that brought in Walter McCarty from the Boston Celtics in exchange for Zarko Cabarkapa (remember him?) and a second round pick. McCarty added depth to a short bench but ended up having a minimal impact with the team. He played in 28 regular season games averaging 3.5 points and 2.2 rebounds per game, though he did have a 20 point game. He got into eight playoff games, and saw extended action in only a handful of them.
After that season McCarty lasted one more season with the Los Angeles Clippers before he retired after a 12-year career. Though his stay was brief, McCarty has very fond memories of Phoenix and I talked to him before Celtics shootaround on Wednesday.
Sanders: What do you remember from your time in Phoenix?
McCarty: It was fun times. We had a really exciting team with Amare (Stoudemire), Shawn (Marion) , Quentin (Richardson) and Joe (Johnson). Also, Steve (Nash)… Stevie Wonder (Laughs). It was a fun time and playing at an exciting place, they do a really good job here, the fans, they support their team and it’s a great basketball environment. It was fun coming to games and playing here. It was a really good time.
Sanders: How much fun was it to watch Amare Stoudemire put up the numbers that he did against Tim Duncan and the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals?
McCarty: It was fun to watch and being a apart of to see him at that level. People forget how good he was and I tell people all the time. Listen man, I have seen him do some really special things to some really good teams and it was fun basketball.
Sanders: What went wrong for the team in that series?
McCarty: Joe Johnson went down. It was at that end of the court (basket by the Suns bench). He fell on his face and his eyes closed up, he was our go-to guy and was able to shut (Tony) Parker down and guard (Manu) Ginobli, but also get us points, they didn’t have anyone that could guard him. He was big for us and when he went down it hurt us.
Sanders: Can you say that the Suns win that series if Johnson is healthy?
McCarty: Definitely, we had a good chance winning that game and if he is healthy we definitely win that series.