Steve Nash has guided the Suns to three Western Conference
finals appearances in seven seasons since returning in
2004, leading the franchise to a significant amount of
However, one thing he has never led them to is the NBA
Finals, a fact that is not particularly easy for the two-
time MVP to swallow.
“I hate to pin it on breaks, but we did have some bad
breaks,” Nash told Bill Simmons of ESPN’s B.S.
Report. “Every year something happened.”
Nash said the biggest thing the team was missing was a
Still, some breaks wouldn’t have hurt. Except for the one
that did in 2005, but we’ll get to that later.
Pointing to the 2007 playoffs, when the Suns lost to the
Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals, Nash talked
about the suspensions that left Phoenix’s front-line
perilously thin in a crucial Game 5.
“We go home with a chance to go up 3-2, but Boris and
Amare – who happened to be our only power forwards on the
roster, and this is a roster that didn’t really have a
center – get suspended,” he said. “We go home, have to
play a very good Spurs team without any of our limited
size or our frontcourt talent.”
But, as every Suns fan knows, that was not the only bad
break the Suns dealt with during the Nash era.
Whether it was Joe Johnson fracturing the orbital bone in
his eye just before the Western Conference finals in 2005,
or Stoudemire missing the playoffs because of a bum knee
and Raja Bell coming up lame in the Western Conference
finals in 2006, there always seemed to be something
holding the Suns back.
But it was that 2007 team that Nash thought was the Suns’
best shot at winning that elusive title.
“You can’t look back on that series and go ‘if the
suspensions didn’t happen we were through,’ but we were
also at an all-time high,” Nash said. “Diaw was playing at
an exceptional level, Amare was great. We had a nice team
around the main guys.”
And, possibly even more than just being talented enough to
win, the team was ready to finally slay the dragon that
was the San Antonio Spurs.
“It was a team with a lot of belief – a lot of kind of,
we’d gotten our heads chopped off for a couple years in a
row, and we were kind of poised to kind of chop someone’s
head off,” Nash said.
At the end of Game 4, which the Suns won in San Antonio
104-98, it seemed like it might just happen. But then Nash
took a hip-check from Robert Horry, Stoudemire and Diaw
left the bench and the rest, as they say, was history.
Amazingly, things got maybe even more painful the next
season, where the Suns choked away a Game-1 win in San
Antonio, which saw Tim Duncan hit a clutch three-pointer.
Yes, Tim Duncan, clutch three-pointer.
“We had that game won so many times,” Nash said, noting
the back and forth nature of the game. “And then Tim hit
the shot, and I was just like, unbelievable.
“And then that was it, we lost all momentum, all belief.”
The Suns made it back to the Western Conference finals in
2010, only to see a furious rally in Los Angeles end when
a Kobe Bryant airball turned into a Ron Artest lay-in at
the buzzer in Game 5. The Suns lost Game 6 – and the
series – a couple days later.
The Phoenix Suns won an average of 55 games per year
during Steve Nash’s first six seasons since signing with
the team in the summer of 2004, reaching the Western
Conference finals three times and being a title contender
on an annual basis.
But, whether it was due to poor roster construction,
running into better teams or just bad breaks, the Suns
never reached the NBA Finals.
And that, unfair as it may be, is how people ultimately
judge an era.