Though they never won a championship, the Nash-D'Antoni Suns were compelling enough to inspire a popular book. They were effective enough to win Steve Nash two MVPs.
The Mike D'Antoni Suns unraveled little by little, but over a short span of time. The seeds were sown when owner Robert Sarver decided that paying Joe Johnson wasn't worth the trouble.
Joe Johnson was a key, young piece on a Suns team that could have won the 2005 championship. He suffered an eye injury in the playoffs, and Phoenix could not overcome the San Antonio Spurs without Johnson's help.
In the offseason, Sarver decided against extending Johnson, thus allowing the Atlanta Hawks to swoop in and overpay the swingman. It was the kind of "penny-wise, pound foolish" decision that would come to define Phoenix's eventual demise.
That demise is sad, but only because the basketball played during the Nash era was so, so beautiful.
D'Antoni grasped the importance of space and coached the perfect point guard to realize his vision. The Suns spread the floor and killed opposing teams with the pick-and-roll. Amar'e Stoudemire would have been good in any system, but his elite rim-run ability made Nash-Amar'e a devastating pairing.
In short, this was the coolest team in sports for roughly a half decade. The pieces have since sloughed off and floated elsewhere. Amar'e Stoudemire is a disappointing Knick, D'Antoni is a disappointing Laker coach, Nash, a mildly disappointing Laker player.
Behind them, we have the rubble that comprises the Phoenix Suns. They're not really good at anything, while also not really being the worst at anything. They don't have any superstar prospects coming down the pike.
The coolest team in sports has suddenly given way to what might be the most boring. The Suns are 24th in offense, and 24th in defensive efficiency. They rebound poorly, and shoot the three terribly.
Right now, Phoenix as a team makes fewer three-pointers per game than Warriors teammates Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined. This used to be the site of 120-point offensive barrages.
The team's most exciting young player is Goran Dragic. He's already 26 years old and likely will never make an All-Star team. It's between him, Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola for "best player on the Phoenix Suns."
If that weren't disgusting enough, Phoenix carries two inefficient draft bust wings in Wesley Johnson and Michael Beasley. One wonders whether former Suns coach Alvin Gentry welcomed his firing two weeks ago.
Gentry was one of the last links to the glory days, which ended quite recently, back in 2010. It seemed then, that the Suns may have been one wild Metta World Piece buzzer-beater away from a championship. A little more two years later, and Phoenix may have surpassed Charlotte as the sport's most depressing franchise.