History of the Phoenix Suns on Memorial Day

Oct 30, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Steve Nash (R) smiles alongside former coach Mike D'Antoni (L) while being inducted into the Suns Ring of Honor during half time at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Steve Nash (R) smiles alongside former coach Mike D'Antoni (L) while being inducted into the Suns Ring of Honor during half time at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports /

Originally a holiday informally began following the American Civil War, Memorial Day actually began as “Decorating Day,” a day when American military fallen would be honored with the decoration of their gravestones.

Decoration Day gradually had it’s name changed to Memorial Day beginning in the year 1882 and continued to be celebrated annually on May 30 each year across the country as a state-based holiday. By the end of WWII, Memorial Day had become the accepted name for the holiday, and in 1967 Memorial Day became the official name of the now federal holiday. In 1971 Memorial Day was moved from the traditional May 30 date to the last Money of the month giving us the date that we now celebrate in perpetuity.

Sports generally do not take the day off as fans have a chance to celebrate the holiday with their families and sports have become synonymous with part of the holiday distraction.

This is also a fact in the NBA, where NBA playoff games occasionally fall on the holiday, scheduling that the Phoenix Suns have been a part of only once in their history.

Although they have had playoff games scheduled the day before and the day after Memorial Day on multiple occasions throughout the years, they have only had one game fall directly on the holiday itself, a Western Conference Finals game against the San Antonio Spurs in 2005.

In Steve Nash’s first season back with the Suns, the Nash Rambler led a basketball renaissance orchestrated by Head Coach Mike D’Antoni, which combined with super-freak athletes Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion, took the league by storm.

The Suns stormed through the regular season matching the franchise record for most wins in a season with 62, and flew through the First Round and Semifinals leading to a Western Conference Finals matchup with playoff powerhouse, the San Antonio Spurs.

Playing three hotly contested games, San Antonio took advantage of the NBA’s propensity to slow playoff games down to a near grinding halt and shut down the Suns’ speed-based offensive juggernaut. The Suns fought valiantly with the first two games in Phoenix, but the Spurs took a three games to nothing lead with game four played on Memorial Day in San Antonio.

Desperate to not be swept, Phoenix jumped out to an early 7-1 lead in the games first two minutes led by two early assists by Steve Nash. Unfortunately the Spurs didn’t fold and after remaining tied or within two points of one another for the majority of the quarter, the Suns took a scant 26-23 lead into the second period.

San Antonio flipped the table on Phoenix and used a 19-12 run in the final 4:42 of the quarter to take a 59-52 lead at the half. The three-headed monster of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan scored 19 of the team’s 36 second quarter points.

Phoenix came out of the locker room ready to fight and after tying the game at 66 four minutes into the second half, used a 13-point outburst from the still mask-wearing Joe Johnson and at one point a 15-2 run to take a twelve point lead (the team’s biggest lead of the series). Putting the pressure back on San Antonio, Phoenix took an 87-80 lead into the fourth. The Suns nailed four three-pointers and Steve Nash and Jim Jackson combined for five of the team’s eight assists in the period.

The fourth quarter was Amare Stoudemire’s quarter as he not only scored 11 of his game-high 31 points, but nearly single-handedly saved Phoenix’s season with two tough layups, two rebounds, a steal, and a spectacular block of a Tim Duncan dunk-attempt, all in the final minute and a half. Nash nailed a couple of free throws in the game’s waning moments sealing the Suns victory, and preventing the first sweep of the Suns in a playoff series since the Los Angeles Lakers swept Phoenix in the 1989 Western Conference Finals.

29. 111. 66. Final. 106

STAT added five rebounds to his 31 points, and Joe Johnson shot a scorching 10-15 from the field including 3-6 from beyond the arc to help stave off elimination. Steve Nash scored 17 points and added a game-high 12 assists. In a game-high 45 minutes of playing time, Shawn Marion only managed 11 points, although he would grab 14 rebounds.

Manu Ginobili paced San Anotnio with 28 points. Tim Duncan and Bruce Bowen each scored 15, and Duncan added 16 rebounds. Robert Horry came off the bench to also add 15 points, including 3-4 from three-point land.

With the win the Suns forced a game five back in Phoenix, although becoming the first team to ever come back from an 0-3 series deficit was not in their cards as their Memorial Day victory would be the only one of the series.

Next: The History of the Phoenix Suns on Easter Sunday

With that win, however, the Suns won what is still their only game on the blessed American holiday, and Phoenix holds a 1-0 all-time record.

Information regarding the game between the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs played on May 30, 2005, came from the Arizona Daily Star published on May 31, 2005.