Point guard-filled Hall of Fame class symbolizes the Suns past and present

Sep 7, 2018, 6:18 AM | Updated: 7:18 am
Class of 2018 inductees into the Basketball Hall of Fame, from right, Steve Nash, Grant Hill, and C...
Class of 2018 inductees into the Basketball Hall of Fame, from right, Steve Nash, Grant Hill, and Charles "Lefty" Driesell grasp hands during a news conference at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, in Springfield, Mass. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
(AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

The Suns have history. They make history. They are the first NBA franchise to have four former players inducted in the same Hall of Fame class.

The honor symbolizes the biggest problem on Planet Orange, where our next playoff berth seems as elusive as the missing championship banner. Where all of the best memories come from yesteryear.

Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Charlie Scott and Grant Hill are the latest example of our conundrum. Their inclusion into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, along with former executive Rick Welts, is a prestigious moment for the Valley’s original franchise. The party of five pushes the Suns’ Hall presence to 12 members.

The headliners are obvious. Nash and Kidd are two of the top 10 point guards in NBA history. One was as beloved as he was talented. The other, not so much. Each have their own place in Phoenix lore.

Nash was once drafted and traded because the team had too many point guards, when he was stuck on a depth chart behind Kidd and Kevin Johnson.

But Kidd fell out of favor following a domestic violence incident, an unpardonable sin to former owner Jerry Colangelo, who witnessed the same scourge under his own childhood roof.

Kidd was quickly traded to the Nets for Stephon Marbury, proving that Colangelo was the rare owner who stood by his principles, regardless of the name on the back of a jersey. And when he and son Bryan righted their original mistake, pushing Robert Sarver to reacquire Nash from Dallas, it ignited the last great era of Suns basketball.

Nash was the consummate underdog. His ball-handling wizardry was no surprise to those who watched him dribbling tennis balls down the hallways of Santa Clara, always looking for that edge. He left nothing on the court except one big regret:

He was one of the most accurate shooters in NBA history. And he recently admitted he should’ve shot more three-pointers in his second stint with Phoenix, pushing a revolutionary offense to the edge of chaos, just like they do today in Golden State.

That hurts.

Either way, the gluttony of point guards would become a reoccurring problem a few years later. The Suns imploded from unhappiness, a team unable to assimilate three rising stars: Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas. They have only just begun to recover.

The clashing of then and now, before and after, is once again defining the franchise. The Suns will fete and claim two Hall of Fame point guards on Friday while the current team has zero point guards capable of steering a legitimate NBA franchise.

The missing piece could lift a sagging franchise back to relevance. Or it could symbolize the dysfunction marking an eight-year absence from the postseason.

So far, the offseason has been good to the Suns. The team seemed to ace the draft. They made Devin Booker rich, effectively purchasing his short-term loyalty. They signed a tough veteran in Trevor Ariza. They hired a seasoned head coach who everyone seems to love. They traded away two of their darkest clouds, Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss.

But the departure of Knight leaves the team without a starting point guard. Optimists assume that general manager Ryan McDonough must have a player in mind or something up his sleeve, that he wouldn’t jeopardize the 2018-19 season just to jettison Knight.

There are tantalizing names that would electrify the Valley, like Damian Lillard, Kemba Walker or Terry Rozier. Or maybe they snag Lonzo Ball from the Lakers. Or maybe they bring back Dragic the same way they once reunited with Nash.

Or maybe the team is just winging it.

Veteran readers know I’m no fan of building for the future. Namely because the future doesn’t exist. Once it’s here, it’s the present. Everything behind is in the past, just memories and dust. Nothing beyond is guaranteed. And the teams that slow-grow their way into contention often step into unforeseen landmines and unintended consequences.

But if McDonough pulls off some kind of blockbuster, giving Booker the point guard he deserves, we could arrive at a pivotal moment in the Valley:

When the past and the present converge, giving Suns fans a team and a history worth cheering.

Dan Bickley

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) looks to pass as Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. (...
Dan Bickley

Suns’ season starts off uneasy, just like Deandre Ayton’s contract situation

Welcome to a new year in Phoenix, when Deandre Ayton’s contract status is part of every narrative, one that’s not going away anytime soon.
1 day ago
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz sits on the bench during the first half of a preseason NFL ...
Dan Bickley

Zach Ertz trade is proof the Cardinals are all in for 2021

Zach Ertz has pedigree. He has a Super Bowl ring. His presence is a declaration. He is proof the Cardinals are all in to win in 2021.
6 days ago
Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (99) celebrates a defensive stop against the San Francisc...
Dan Bickley

Cardinals earn forgettable win over 49ers to stay atop NFC West

Victories last forever. Even when they’re instantly forgettable. The Cardinals played one of those games on Sunday.
11 days ago
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals looks on during the second quarter in the game ...
Dan Bickley

Kingsbury’s turnaround with Cardinals starting to silence some doubters

Six weeks ago, Kliff Kingsbury’s seat was the hottest in professional football. Now he is among the early favorites to win Coach of the Year.
12 days ago
Owner Robert Sarver stands with the Western Conference Championship trophy after the Suns beat the ...
Dan Bickley

Sarver’s past makes stalled Deandre Ayton contract talks alarming

The Suns are playing a dangerous game. They are perilously close to contaminating elite team chemistry. They might kill the vibe entirely.
16 days ago
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, left, avoids the rush from Los Angeles Rams outside lin...
Dan Bickley

Cardinals leave Los Angeles with something bigger than a win

Dan Bickley says the Arizona Cardinals left Los Angeles with a big ‘L’ on Sunday: legitimacy.
17 days ago
Point guard-filled Hall of Fame class symbolizes the Suns past and present