Once upon the time, the Phoenix Suns were a good team that qualified for the playoffs on a regular basis, but just couldn’t seem to cross over into the category of the league’s elite.
And after four years of falling short of basketball’s ultimate prize, the Suns did something about it in the spring of 1992.
“Like when we traded for Charles (Barkley) in 1992, we needed that one piece, former Suns player and assistant coach Dan Majerle said Monday on Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “We’d win 50 games every year, and we’d get in the playoffs, but we just couldn’t get over that hump. We needed that one guy to get over that hump.”
Barkley did make an immediate impact. In his first season with the team, the Suns won a league-best 62 games and advanced to the NBA Finals for just the second time in the franchise’s history. And Sir Charles became the first Suns player to win the league’s Most Valuable Player award.
While the current Suns haven’t been on the doorstep of greatness quite as long as those Phoenix teams of 20-plus years ago, there is a school of thought that the Suns are possibly one player away from really making noise. And at least one person thinks there’s a player who could make a Barkley-like impact.
“Kevin Love is that type of player,” Majerle said.
Love, 25, has one year remaining on his contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves and a player option at over $16 million for 2015-16. Speculation is rampant that the three-time All-Star could be dealt this offseason and if that happens, the Suns could be serious players.
“I am a huge Kevin Love fan,” Majerle, a member of that 1992-93 Suns team and now the head coach at Grand Canyon University said. “One time I talked to him, he was taking the ball out of bounds by the Suns’ bench and I said ‘how do you get all those rebounds’ and he just pointed at his heart.
“He is about an inch taller than I am, I’m 6’6″, so he’s 6’7″ and he is not overly athletic, but he is a rebounding machine.”
Love was third in the league in rebounding this season, pulling down an average of 12.5 per game in addition to his 26.5 points per contest, which was good for fourth in the NBA.
“You’ve got to love players like that and the way he’s developed up his game,” Majerle continued. “He’s turned into a very good three-point shooter, has a high basketball I.Q., I think he’s a great teammate.
“He would be a perfect fit for the Phoenix Suns.”