Why are these three all smiles after losing their coach? Because the man who will take them on the highly anticipated trip to the finals may be coming back on their bench.
The last time the Phoenix Suns made it to the NBA Finals was the 1992-93 season or, as I like to refer to it, "The Year of the Beast: Charles Barkley".
Barkley received the Most Valuable Player award and, along with Kevin Johnson, kept the heat and tempo up in Phoenix.
That year the Suns averaged 113.4 ppg and allowed 106.7 ppg, compared to this year's averages of scoring 110.1 ppg and letting up 105.0 ppg. So the idea of running up and down the court has served this team well in the past as they finished 62-20 in 92-93 (seven games better than the teams 55-27 record this year).
Now it may be hard to remember who Barkley and KJ were surrounded by, and the list isn't going to blow anyone away. The top five after Barkley and KJ were: Dan Marjele, Cedric Ceballos, Danny Ainge, Richard Dumas, and Tom Chambers.
In the early '90s, this roster didn't make people cringe as much as it may currently.
This years Suns team has its core in Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash, an athletic big man who can hit jump-shots and a pesky point guard who can drive, dish, and shoot (hmmm sounds a lot like Barkley and KJ).
The current Suns next best five includes: Shaq, Leandro Barbosa, Boris Diaw, Grant Hill, and Raja Bell, which is much better than what the 1993 Phoenix Suns threw out there against Jordan's Bulls in the '93 Finals.
As I stated previously, the '93 Suns gave up 106 ppg on average, yet this total was good enough to be ninth in the league in points against. With only 27 teams in the league at that time, this meant that the Suns finished in the top 1/3 of the league in defense.
And what was Steve Kerr's biggest complaint about D'Antoni? You guessed it, DEFENSE!
For those who have yet to do their homework and look up the man who last took Phoenix to the NBA Finals, that man is Paul Westphal, a current assistant coach who remains under contract with the Dallas Mavericks.
Westphal was a former player for the Suns and a trusted assistant to Avery Johnson who preached defense to his Mavericks, so there wouldn't be changes made to the style of play that would be detrimental to the Suns with the current roster they have.
The players would also welcome him with open arms, as he was once already a part of a title contending squad and familiar with what the Suns are trying to accomplish.
Westphal brought the Suns a John Paxson three-pointer and Horace Grant blocked shot away from taking the "Untoucha-BULLS" to a Game 7 that would have been played in Phoenix (2-3-2 game format for the finals in 1993, meaning that the team with better record got first and last set of home games).
Hand over the reigns to Westphal, and, if Amare can continue to improve as he was after Shaq's arrival, then Westphal now his Charles Barkley again, and wouldn't have to worry about bumping into Michael Jordan again in the NBA Finals.
All the Phoenix front office has to do is make sure Carlise doesn't lure Westphal to remain in Dalls with him, and they have the man that can bring them a Larry O'Brien trophy and get The Originilla Gorilla off this franchise's back.
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