The history of the Phoenix Suns at NBA All-Star Weekend
Feb 14, 2019, 10:17 PM | Updated: Feb 16, 2019, 11:40 am
(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
For the last 69 seasons, the All-Star Game has been a staple of the NBA calendar year.
The best of the best from around the association gather together for one weekend out of the year to give the fans a show, and when you throw in festivities such as the Slam Dunk Contest, Three-Point Shootout and Rising Stars Challenge, you get one of the most memorable stretches of the whole season.
The Suns have been no strangers to these, as they have had a good number of appearances in all of the events that have taken place over the years.
Here are all of the times a Suns player has made an appearance at All-Star Weekend:
The 1969 All-Star Game was the first to take place since the Suns came into existence, and in their debut, they sent two players to the event. Dick Van Arsdale made the team in his first season in Phoenix and Gail Goodrich was named to the squad as an injury replacement for the legendary Jerry West.
For the next two years, the Suns sent both Connie Hawkins and Van Arsdale to the All-Star game. Hawkins started both of these games while Van Arsdale came off the bench, but neither had big impacts in either game.
Hawkins again made the All-Star Game in 1972, but he was joined by a different teammate this time, with Paul Silas making the team for the first time in his career. Hawkins had his best showing to date at this one, scoring 13 points and grabbing four rebounds in just 14 minutes.
The Suns again had two players named as All-Stars in 1973, as Hawkins, who was an injury replacement for Rick Barry, was joined by Charlie Scott.
Scott was the Suns’ lone All-Star in 1974, as Hawkins’ streak of four straight appearances was broken. He played 19 minutes and recorded two points and four assists.
The 1975 All-Star Game was the first one held in Phoenix, and the Suns managed to send Scott there to host. He scored two points in 16 minutes.
Scott’s streak of All-Star Game appearances ended at three in 1976, but the Suns were not without a representative, as rookie Alvan Adams made the team for the first and only time in his career.
Fan voting for the All-Star Game started in 1975, and 1977 marked the first time that the Suns had a player voted in as a starter, with Paul Westphal taking home the honor in his first All-Star appearance. Westphal had a great showing as well, scoring 20 points and dishing out six assists in a team-high 31 minutes.
The Suns sent the same two players to the next three games, as Westphal was joined by Walter Davis at the event during this span. Davis came off the bench for all three years, while Westphal started in 1978 and 1979.
The 1981 All-Star Game marked the first time that the Suns sent three players to one event, as Davis, now a starter, was accompanied by Dennis Johnson and Truck Robinson. The trio combined for 37 points of the 120 points scored by the West.
Johnson was the lone representative for the Suns in 1982, and he only managed one point in 15 minutes.
The Suns again only had one representative for the second straight year, but unlike the year before, Maurice Lucas was the one chosen in his first year in Phoenix. Lucas was voted in as a starter alongside the likes of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and he scored six points and grabbed seven rebounds in 27 minutes.
Davis made his return to the All-Star Game as the lone Suns representative after a two-year hiatus, but he wasn’t the only Suns player who made an appearance over the weekend.
The Slam Dunk Contest made its debut in the NBA in 1984, and power forward Larry Nance managed to take home first place in the event, beating out legendary dunkers such as Julius Erving, Dominique Wilkins and Clyde Drexler.
Nance returned to All-Star Weekend the following season, both as a player and a participant defending his title in the Slam Dunk Contest. He lost his title as champion to Wilkins in the Dunk Contest, but had a really good showing in the actual game, recording 16 points and five rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench.
In 1986, the Suns failed to send a player to the All-Star Game for the first time in franchise history.
After another two-year absence, Davis returned to the game for the final time in his career. He scored seven points in 15 minutes.
The Suns returned to the game in 1989 after no appearances in 1988, with Tom Chambers making the team in his first season in Phoenix. He had an impressive outing, scoring 14 points and grabbing five rebounds in 16 minutes. Rookie Tim Perry also competed in the Dunk Contest, the team’s first entrant since Nance, but failed to make it out of the first round.
Chambers returned the next two seasons, and he was joined by Kevin Johnson in both of them. Both came off the bench in 1990, but Johnson was voted as a starter in 1991. The Suns also had a Dunk Contest representative in 1990 in Kenny Battle, but he finished in last place.
Two Suns players made the All-Star team for the first time in 1992, with Jeff Hornacek and Dan Majerle making their debuts. They both came off the bench and combined for 15 points, five assists and five rebounds. Hornacek also competed in the Three-Point Contest, the first time a Suns player had done so, but finished in last place. Finally, the team also had its second-ever Dunk Contest winner, as sophomore Cedric Ceballos took home the crown over fan favorites Shawn Kemp and Larry Johnson.
The Charles Barkley era began in Phoenix in 1993, and the big man was voted in as a starter in his first All-Star game with the Suns. He was joined by Majerle, who also competed in the Three Point Contest, and the two combined for 34 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in an overtime West win. Ceballos also entered the Dunk Contest for the second straight year but was beaten out by eventual winner Harold Miner.
Barkley was the leading vote-getter in 1994, the first time a Suns player had done that, but he had to pull out of the game due to an injury and was replaced by Gary Payton. The Suns did have a player suit up for the game, though, as Johnson returned after two years away.
The All-Star Game returned to Phoenix after 20 years in 1995, and the Suns celebrated by having both Barkley and Majerle voted in as starters. They combined for 25 points and 14 rebounds, but their West team ended up losing the game. The team also had its fingerprints over the rest of the weekend, as Majerle was an entrant in the Three-Point Contest for the second time in his career and rookies Wesley Person and Trevor Ruffin became the first Suns to compete in the Rising Stars Challenge, which began a year earlier.
Barkley was the Suns’ only representative in 1996, his final year with the team. He started the game and scored eight points in 16 minutes. Rookie Michael Finley also made appearances in both the Dunk Contest, where he finished as the runner up to Brent Barry, and the Rising Stars Challenge.
The Suns did not have an All-Star in 1997, but fans saw a glimpse into a bright future, as a 22-year-old rookie by the name of Steve Nash appeared in the Rising Stars Challenge.
Over the next three All-Star Games (there was no All-Star Game in 1999 due to a lockout), the Suns had one man represent them: Jason Kidd, who the team acquired from the Mavericks in late 1996. He came off the bench in 1998 but started in 2000 and 2001 after being among the top vote-getters in the Western Conference.
Despite making the playoffs in 2002, the Suns did not send a single player to the All-Star Game that year.
The Suns returned the following year with two players appearing in the game for the first time with the team in Shawn Marion and Stephon Marbury. They were also very busy outside of the game, as Marbury competed in the first-ever Skills Challenge and rookie standout Amar’e Stoudemire appeared in both the Dunk Contest and the Rising Stars Challenge.
After a busy 2003 All-Star Weekend, the Suns only had one appearance in 2004, with Stoudemire competing in the Rising Stars Challenge for the second straight year.
The 2005 season was the Suns’ most successful campaign since the Barkley days, and this was reflected over All-Star Weekend of that year. Nash returned to the team after a six-year stint with the Mavericks and immediately made the team alongside Stoudemire and Marion. Also that weekend, Nash became the first Suns player to take home first place in the Skills Challenge, Stoudemire finished as the runner-up in the Dunk Contest, and Quentin Richardson won the Three-Point Contest over five other players, one of whom was teammate Joe Johnson.
The next three years saw Nash, Stoudemire and Marion all make multiple appearances representing the Suns. Nash made it all three years and started in 2006 (though he was replaced in 2007 due to injury), and Stoudemire and Marion both made it twice over that span. Nash also competed in the 2006 Skills Challenge and the 2008 Three-Point Contest but wasn’t able to win either one.
The All-Star Game once again came to Phoenix in 2009, and the Suns sent both Stoudemire, who started for the first time, and new center Shaquille O’Neal as representatives. This year marked the first and only time that a Suns player won All-Star Game MVP, as O’Neal took home the honors after scoring 17 points and grabbing five rebounds off the bench.
The 2010 game marked the first time since 1995 that the Suns had two starters, with Nash and Stoudemire doing the honors. The two combined for 16 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds. Nash also won his second Skills Challenge and Channing Frye competed in the Three-Point Contest but didn’t make it out of the first round.
The team did not have a single representative at All-Star Weekend in 2011, the first time this happened since 2002.
Nash made his final All-Star appearance in 2012, where he dished out four assists in five minutes off the bench. The Suns also had Markieff Morris compete for Team Shaq in the Rising Stars Challenge that year, where he scored 12 points in 15 minutes off the bench.
And now we reach today, where the Suns have gone six straight years without an All-Star Game representative, by far the longest streak in franchise history. They have not been totally absent though, as Suns players have been featured in the various other events over this span.
Devin Booker alone has competed in two Three-Point Contests (2016 and 2018, the latter of which he won), two Rising Stars Challenges (2016 and 2017) and one Skills Challenge (2017), and others such as Goran Dragic (2014 Skills Challenge), Isaiah Thomas (2015 Skills Challenge), Miles Plumlee (2014 Rising Stars Challenge), Marquese Chriss (2017 Rising Stars Challenge) and Derrick Jones Jr. (2017 Dunk Contest) have all made one-off appearances.
None of these are the same as seeing a player represent the team in an All-Star game though, and while Booker has come close numerous times, no one has been able to break this streak over the last half-decade.
Booker makes another appearance in the Three-Point Contest this year while the franchise’s first-ever No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton put up 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists in 22 minutes in the Rising Stars Challenge.