The Phoenix Suns are the centerpiece of the biggest what-if in NBA history

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Phoenix Suns (Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart /Allsport Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart /Allsport

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Phoenix Suns (Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart /Allsport Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart /Allsport

Over the course of its 52-year history, the Phoenix Suns franchise has had their fair share of special players and memorable moments, but one thing has eluded the franchise: the Larry O’Brien Trophy. The course of the franchise and the entire history of the NBA could have looked far different if one fateful day had gone another way.

Setting the Scene

The year was 1968. A notorious year in American history defined by the juxtaposition of soaring new heights in technological advancements and sobering lows in the plight of societal advancement.

We were nearing the climax of a decade defined by protests, new ideas and ways of thinking, and rallying against the status quo in favor of a more evolved society from a sociological perspective as well as a technological perspective.

The ideological battle taking place for the soul and future of America was seemingly at the forefront of world news.

It was a year where we saw the first manned spacecraft orbit the moon (the iconic first moon landing would happen in 1969) and the debut of the 747 jet.

We also saw the leader of the civil rights movement and one of the most influential people in human history, Martin Luther King Jr., get assassinated at the age of 39.

Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy would be assassinated as well after a campaign event.

In the sports world, we also witnessed one of the most powerful moments in Olympic history as the two American sprinters, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, adorned a black glove and raised their fist in silent protest while the national anthem played during their medal ceremony after winning the gold and bronze medals respectively in the 200-meter race.

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