Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace, love, and goodwill to all.
But if the rivalry between the Spurs and Suns is anything like the past five years, this Christmas, the “goodwill towards men” adage may have to take a break for two and a half hours.
Over the past decade, the Spurs and Suns have clashed on many occasions. The only Spurs series loss to the Suns occurred in the 2000 NBA Playoffs, and that year Tim Duncan was out with a knee injury.
The Spurs took the first round of the 2003 series from the Suns in six games on their way to their second NBA title.
In 2005, the revived Suns, after the third-greatest regular season turnaround in NBA history, met the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. Again, San Antonio took home the bragging rights, as they won in five games on their way to their third NBA title in six years.
In 2007, the Spurs and Suns met again in the Western Conference Semifinals, and this series cemented the rivalry's history.
Game four of the series took an ugly turn when Robert Horry knocked Steve Nash into the scorer's table at mid-court. Coming to the aid of his teammate, Raja Bell then left the bench area and was given a technical foul.
Horry was charged with a flagrant foul and ejected from the game, while Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw were both suspended for one game after leaving their bench during the altercation.
This lead to a game five and game six victory for the Spurs as they ousted the Suns en route to their fourth NBA championship. The Suns’ fans may have lost their cool after this episode of the rivalry.
The 2008 version of the rivalry between these two teams continued in the final regular-season game for them in San Antonio. Although the Suns won that game, it was not without more drama.
During the game, Stoudemire set a screen for Nash on Bruce Bowen with a little over a minute to play. Bowen threw an elbow into Stoudemire's chest, and had to be restrained by teammates and coaching staff.
The Spurs had the last say, though. They rebounded in the first-round playoff series against the Suns, defeating them 4-1. This series brought on a new aspect to the rivalry, with the clash of two dominant big men, Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal.
The Christmas Day game on ABC this year may just interrupt the holiday spirit for a while for Spurs-Suns fans, but it is sure to be entertaining. If the past is any indication of what to expect, buckle-up for a wild ride two weeks from today.
Thousands of fans will totally be ignoring their family. Bump Christmas cheer!