A touch of history: My all-time Suns lineup


Editor’s note: I’m very, very proud to welcome Jay Gordon as the newest featured writer here on Sun-N-Gun! Look for Jay’s work during the week and on the weekend, but first treat yourself to a terrific look back through Suns’ history.

I’ve been told there are two ways to survive prison without copping daily beatings. The first is through affiliation; you align yourself with a group or a gang and enjoy safety in numbers. Unfortunately, you need to know someone, or know someone who knows someone, and it’s all very complex. The second way is a little more of a risk for reward approach… Basically you find the biggest most ruthless thug on your first day, and you hit him as hard as you can. If he doesn’t get up you’re in the clear, and the other inmates respect or fear you.

Previously I have written and operated an NBA blog called Science and Dimes for the general NBA fan –BUT– as this is my debut feature for a slightly more hardcore fan base, I’ve decided to take a jailhouse approach and claim your respect by knocking over something big, like an all-time greatest Phoenix Suns lineup (I would prefer to rest on affiliations, but bloggers have no friends).

My methodology is pretty loose;  the only hard and fast rule is the player has to be primarily recognised as a Phoenix Sun. For example:

  • Joe Johnson is a Hawk, not a Sun
  • MJ is a Bull, not a Wizard
  • Shaq is a… Moving on!

From top to bottom:

C- Connie Hawkins

Sure, he’s more natural at the PF position… but name a great Phoenix center that isn’t REALLY a power forward?

If you have not seen the lanky cat from Brooklyn play, start by clicking here. The first thing you will notice is his hands. He palms the ball like its made out of Nerf and taunts his defender the same way an older brother toys with his younger siblings, then he decides whether or not he wants to dunk on your head or fade away and shoot a finesse jumper over your outstretched arm. The second thing you notice is that the guys he’s toying with are Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Do I feel a little dirty leaving an all-round stud and PHX great like Alvan Adams off the list? Yeah, I do, but in consideration of Connie’s unfortunate circumstances (he was blacklisted by the NBA for a point shaving scandal he had no part in, delaying his rookie season by 8 YEARS), and an opportunity to herald a Sun that does not get due respect I’m willing to give him a pass on the fact that he only played an oft injured 4 seasons in Phoenix.

Hawkins may not have the hardware to match Alvan’s NBA rookie season, but his numbers were better (24ppg, 10rpg, 5apg), and in the final game of his rookie year he put up 44 points, 20 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 blocks and 5 steals (fantasy basketball team owners just fell off their chair). In addition to his impressive regular season, he forced a Lakers team led by Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor to a game 7 with averages of 25 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists per game.

PF- Charles Barkley

For those of you with short memories: Imagine our recently departed Amar’e Stoudemire. Take his scoring and efficiency, add a couple of extra rebounds per game, give him the ball handling skills and court vision of a shooting guard, and for good measure throw in an extra steal per game too… Oh, and one more thing! Take 5 inches off Stat’s height and add it to the horizontal axis of his midsection. BOOM! You got a prime Charles Barkley!

FUN FACT- Since 1985 only three players at 6’6″ or less have averaged over 10 rebounds per game for an entire season, they are:

  • Clarence Weatherspoon, once, with 10.1 boards
  • Larry Johnson, twice, with a high of 11 boards
  • Sir Charles, (insert drumroll) FIFTEEN times! Including a league leading 14.6 boards in 86-87 with the Sixers

Barkley was an enigma. He was ridiculously undersized at the PF position, but his game was as big as his personality. He led the 1992 Dream Team in scoring on his way to his first of two gold medals and earned himself an MVP award by taking the Suns to a league leading 62 wins and NBA finals in his first season in Phoenix.

SF- Dick Van Arsdale

Phoenix fans with a penchant for history know him as “The Original Sun”. He was a three time all-star, and had a reputation for being one of the league’s best shooters (although, it’s hard to prove because there was no 3pt line at the time). He also scored the first Phoenix Suns points in history. For those who are curious, it was a driving right hand lay-up high off the glass and bounced on the rim twice… then the roof blew off and the basketball gods came down and placed a halo upon his head, or at least that’s what I was told.

SG- Walter Davis

The Greyhound! Sweet D! The Candy Man! The man with the velvet touch! Walt-Chika-Bow-wow-Disney! Ok, the last nickname was me getting carried away, but despite sounding a little pornographic, the first four are legit.

Rookie of the year, Six time All-Star and the all-time leading scorer for the Phoenix Suns. Walter Davis grinded his way onto this list with a decade of solid basketball… Oh wait, then he ratted on his team mates in exchange for immunity in an illegal drug scandal… I suppose my distaste for a rat is outweighed by the thought of cocaine on a Phoenix Suns charter flight.

…maybe my prison etiquette isn’t up to scratch after all.

PG- Steve Nash

The two-time MVP is the center piece of one of the greatest eras in Phoenix Suns basketball. Some call him the heart and soul of the franchise; I call him the heart, soul, hands, legs, clear eyes, busted brow, broken nose and sometimes bad hair of the franchise.

The magnitude of his passing ability is well known, but his shooting numbers are often overlooked. Yeah sure, you probably already know it’s not a good idea to keep him open; however, Nash’s shooting prowess is even more historical than his court vision. His efficiency numbers are so exquisite in their brilliance and uniqueness that they leave statistic nuts like me in a trance of excitement that is only comparable to hungrybear9562’s Double Rainbow, for example:

Not only did Nash match Larry Bird’s lofty 50-40-90 shooting numbers, he sustained it for 6 years (thats four more years than Larry). No other shooter in history has achieved anything close to that, not Reggie, not Ray-Ray, Nobody! Then consider that Nash starts fast breaks, not get the easy bucket finishing them, the bulk of his scoring is off the dribble with the defense in front of him, generally a high arching midrange jumper, or the move best described as the lefty old-man at the YMCA lane hook… you know, the one he does off the wrong foot to throw off the shot blockers lurking above. I could go on about all of his signature moves and get really deep in the numbers but not without offering you the blue pill or the red pill first.

Sixth Man- Tom Chambers

It came down to Chambers or Kevin Johnson but then it occurred to me that my tallest starter is only 6’8″ and KJ supports the Kings now. Chambers 60 point game against his former team (Seattle) is the highest single game total for a Sun ever, but his finest moment was his epic dunk over Mark Jackson.

I hope this has been educational or a pleasant trip down memory lane. If you got feedback let me have it.