Greatest Phoenix Suns Player of All-Time Semifinals: Steve Nash vs. Walter Davis

Brad DennyContributor INovember 16, 2010

While the threes from the Phoenix Suns' win against the Los Angeles Lakers continue to fall, the tournament for the honor of greatest player in Phoenix Suns history continues.

Our previous semi-final match-up pitted the speed and leadership of Kevin Johnson against the freakish athleticism of Amar’e Stoudemire.  In what quickly became a landslide, KJ ousted STAT by capturing 72 percent of the fan vote.

Johnson will await the winner of the other semi-final showdown between two other prolific guards: one from yesteryear and another still in action.

In the quarterfinals. Walter Davis' sweet shooting touch allowed him to get past the stat sheet filling ability of Shawn Marion, while in the toughest match-up of the round, Steve Nash's on-court brilliance gave him the slim edge over Charles Barkley's swagger.

So here we go...get your ballots ready.

The Case for Walter Davis

Even before he donned the purple and orange, Davis was accustomed to greatness.  As a star at the University of North Carolina, he was selected to the 1976 Olympic basketball team that won gold in Montreal.

With that pedigree, Davis was not easily rattled when he was the fifth overall pick in the 1977 draft by the Suns, and it showed. 

All he did as a rookie was average 24.2 points and six rebounds a game while winning the Rookie of the Year award.  He formed a dynamic one, two punch with fellow guard Paul Westphal that helped guide the team to a 15 game turnaround from the previous year, and he made his first of four straight All-Star games.

The sight of "The Greyhound" streaking down the baseline became a familiar one at the old Veteran's Memorial Coliseum as Davis helped led the team to seven straight playoff appearances.  He possessed a shooting touch that arguably is the sharpest in team history, only shooting under 50 percent in three of his 11 seasons with the Suns (and even then, .450 is still pretty good for an "off year").

By the team he left the team in 1988 in the wake of the drug scandal that rocked the franchise, his name was all over the team's record books. 

As a Sun, he made six All-Star teams and had six 20 plus point seasons.  He ranks second in games played (766), third in steals (1,040), fourth in assists (3,340) and first in field goals made.  In perhaps the greatest testament to his ability, he remains the franchise's all-time leading scorer with 15,666 points and had his No. 6 retired in 1994.

The Case for Steve Nash

Steve Nash's career in Phoenix began during one of the most turbulent eras in team history and it was from the fires of this disastrous beginning that the foundation for a Hall of Fame career would be forged.

He was the 15th overall pick in the 1996 draft by a Suns team that had just traded Charles Barkley after an ugly battle with owner Jerry Colangelo.  To make matters worse, the team got off to a staggering 0-13 start that saw the firing of beloved coach Cotton Fitzsimmons

After two seasons backing up Kevin Johnson and later Jason Kidd, he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks for three scrubs and a 1st round pick that would become Shawn Marion.

Finally given a chance to start, Nash grew into an elite point guard in his six seasons in Dallas, making two All-Star teams.  When his contract with the Mavericks expired after the 2004 season, Suns management wasted little time in offering him a huge homecoming contract.

All Nash did in his return season in Phoenix was lead the league in assists (11.5), operate a high-octane offense that took the basketball world by storm and inspired a book, orchestrate a 33 game improvement that resulted in the league's best record, take the Suns to the conference finals and become the franchise's second ever NBA MVP.  Welcome home, Steven.

How do you follow that up?  By setting a career high in points (18.8), again leading the league in assists despite playing without the team's top scorer in Amar'e Stoudemire, taking the team back to the conference finals and repeating as NBA MVP.

Since then, Nash has twice more lead the league in assists and firmly cemented his place as a future Hall of Famer. Still going strong at 36-years-old with 5,567 assists as a Sun, he's closing in on KJ's team record (6,518).  His statistical prowess is not limited to the team record book either.  He is fifth in NBA history in three point percentage (.432), second in free throw percentage (.903) and now eighth in assists 8,486.

Plus, he's not a bad pitchman either.

So there you have it: The Greyhound versus the Canadian.  Vote now.


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