Be in the Know: The Story Behind the NBA Phoenix Suns

Be in the Know: The Story Behind the NBA Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns have been one of the most successful teams in the NBA, with a history as vibrant as their orange and purple hues. From a playoff arrival in 1976 to making back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals in the 1990s, the Suns’ story is one of growth and resilience. Let us take a look back at how this team went from the dark days of the late 1960s to the powerhouse they are today.

A New Start

In 1968, the NBA decided to expand with The Phoenix Suns as one of four new franchises. That year, the Suns drafted Neal Walk as their first pick. Unfortunately, their first decade in the NBA was filled with disappointment and losses. The bleakness of their near-decade long slump continued until the late 1970s, when the team was given a fresh start.

The Suns Come to Life

In 1976, the Suns made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Led by twins Paul and Joe Westphal, the Suns forged a playoff berth in the Pacific Division. General manager Jerry Colangelo had taken a refreshed approach to the team, starting anew with a simple yet immediate goal: to play the hard-nosed defense that many had been preaching.

The 70s were a time of growth for the Suns. They gained new star players, such as Walter Davis and Truck Robinson, and made it to the playoffs twice in the 70s.

The Rise of the 80s

The Suns continued to reach for new heights in the ‘80s. In 1981, the Suns added the face of the franchise, Alvan Adams, to their roster. Adams was the consummate leader and teammate, playing 14 seasons and leading the team to an unforgettable run in the ‘80s.

The Suns also benefited from the addition of future Hall of Famers, such as Eddie Johnson, Lakers great Magic Johnson, and the Knicks’ Bernard King. By the end of the decade, the Suns had made it to the playoffs all but one season.

A Team Reborn

In the late 1980s, a dramatic transformation occurred with the Phoenix Suns. After talks that the team was moving to San Antonio, Colangelo kept the Suns in town with a new arena, America West Arena. This was a major turning point for the team as they adopted a new look, with the Suns logo being redesigned and the arena’s color scheme shifted to the familiar orange and purple.

The team went on to hire legendary coach Paul Westphal, who would lead the team to the NBA Finals in 1993. With the addition of future Hall of Famers Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson, the Suns had reached new heights.

The New Dynasty

It was during the mid-90s that the Suns made their mark on the NBA. Led by the dynamic duo of Barkley and Johnson, the Suns advanced to consecutive NBA Finals in 1993 and 1994, only to fall short both times.

Despite the heartbreaking losses, the Suns continued to compete, making the playoffs for 10 straight seasons during the mid-2000s. The success of the Suns in the 2000s was due in part to outstanding players such as Steve Nash, Joe Johnson, and Amar'e Stoudemire.


The Phoenix Suns have carved out a reputation for themselves as a competitive team in the competitive Western Conference. With a start-studded lineup of Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and Chris Paul, the Suns have done an admirable job of keeping up with some of the best teams in the league.

Their most recent accomplishment was making the playoff in 2020, where they had an impressive run to the Western Conference Finals. With the impressive showings by the Phoenix Suns in recent years, the future rest bright for this up-and-coming team.

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