When it comes to the Phoenix Suns, there are plenty of scenarios fans believe could have possibly turned the tide of the franchise.
For a team that has made the trip to the NBA Finals on three different occasions and still have yet to put their fingerprints on a trophy, there’s no shortage of moments that come to mind.
In Bleacher Report’s latest article discussing what every NBA team’s biggest “what-if” moment is, Dan Favale believes the Suns narrowly missing on an all-time great was the biggest question mark:
Bleacher Report Dives Into Phoenix Suns’ Biggest ‘What-If’ Moment
“Remember that time the Phoenix Suns could’ve drafted Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? Sam Cooper from The Timeline Podcast sure does.
“‘To find the Suns’ biggest what-if moment of them all, we must venture all the way back to the very beginning,’ he explained. ‘In 1968, the Suns and Bucks entered as the league’s freshest expansion teams. After difficult inaugural seasons for both organizations, they participated in a coin flip to determine the rights to the 1969 draft’s No. 1 pick—a pick that would surely be used on UCLA standout Lew Alcindor.
“‘As the story goes, the Suns pledged to tie their destiny to the results of a fan poll. As 51.2 percent of Suns fans wished to select heads on the coin flip, that’s precisely what the team did. When the coin came up tails , general manager Jerry Colangelo drove around the city aimlessly for hours, as the gravity of the situation sank in.
“‘Lew Alcindor, later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, went on to win three MVPs and one championship in Milwaukee before packing his bags for LA Neal Walk, the No. 2 selection in that draft? He carved out a solid career starting at center for several years. But he was never an All-Star, much less an MVP.”
“The “What if Team X drafted Player Y?” discourse is always fickle—usually revisionist history. This isn’t that. Kareem to Phoenix was the hope.
“More recent missed opportunities or bad luck might take the cake for others. What if John Paxson doesn’t hit a championship-winning shot against Phoenix in 1993? What if Robert Horry doesn’t hip check Steve Nash in 2007? What if Metta World Peace, then Ron Artest, didn’t bury that Game 5 buzzer-beater in the 2010 Western Conference Finals? What if Jrue Holiday doesn’t strip Devin Booker at the end of Game 5 in the 2021 NBA Finals? What if the Suns don’t get absolutely gobsmacked in Game 7 of the 2022 semifinals?
“Worthy choices abound. And I can’t quibble with any of them. But getting Kareem, as hoped, would’ve altered the entire trajectory of the Suns franchise.
“‘While simply rostering Kareem brings no guarantee of championship-level success, it’s not difficult to envision this version of the Suns becoming a powerhouse extremely early into their franchise history,’ Cooper wrote. ‘That reputation boost very well could have created a ripple effect, allowing the organization to strive for even greater heights in the 1970s and beyond.'”
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