IT’S OFFICIALLY BASKETBALL SEASON! WHETHER YOU’VE LIVED IN ARIZONA YOUR WHOLE LIFE OR YOU’VE JUST MOVED HERE FOR SCHOOL, EVERYONE CAN HAVE AN APPRECIATION FOR THE PHOENIX SUNS. FROM THE GOOFY AND ACROBATIC MASCOT TO THE GARISHLY EYE-CATCHING TEAM COLORS, WE’VE COVERED ALL THE QUESTIONS YOU MIGHT HAVE ABOUT ARIZONA’S PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL TEAM.
11. They had to fight to be here
In 1968, a group of about 10 businessmen proposed the idea of a professional basketball team in Phoenix to the NBA. Although then NBA commissioner J. Walter Kennedy opposed the idea, calling Phoenix “too hot,” “too small” and “too far away” to be successful, the NBA Board of Governors still granted Phoenix a franchise.
10. Jerry Colangelo has a long history with the Suns
At the age of 28, Jerry Colangelo left the Chicago Bulls, where he was a player scout, to be the Suns’ fi rst general manager. He later became one of the Suns’ owners and was a key factor in the growth of the team.
9. The original logo was created for a deal
The Suns’ iconic, original logo was designed by Stan Fabe, who owned a commercial printing plant in Tucson, for $200 after the team had already paid a local artist $5,000 but were disappointed with the results.
8. The 2004-2005 season was a big one
Steve Nash’s fi rst season with the Suns after playing for the Mavericks proved to be one of the biggest in franchise history. Not only did the team go to the Western Conference Finals, but they set a team record for the greatest single season improvement—they won 33 more games than they had in the 2003-2004 season. Additionally, Nash won the MVP award, Amar’e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion were named All-Stars and Mike D’Antoni was named NBA Coach of the Year.
7. The Gorilla sang its way into the team’s heart
For the first 11 seasons of their existence, the Suns had no official mascot. A first attempt for one involved a sunflower costume, but thankfully it never caught on. In 1980, a singing telegram, named Henry Rojas, was sent to the arena in a gorilla costume. Security suggested to him that he stay to entertain the fans during the breaks. He was such a hit, he kept coming back until he was officially named the mascot.
6. There is more to Go than dunks
Go, the Suns’ gorilla mascot, is famous for his slapstick humor and fourth quarter acrobatic dunks, but there is more to him. He graduated from “Hairy Truman” High School, which is located in “Mon-key West, Florida” before he attended and graduated from “Fur-Man University” in 1980. He was also honored in 2005 by being one of three inaugural members of the Mascots Hall of Fame.
5. The home court has several names
Ask a veteran fan of the Suns where they play and they might tell you America West Arena or maybe even US Airways Arena. As of last month, the arena has officially been renamed Talking Stick Resort Arena, however an acceptable nickname would be the “purple palace” due to the rich purple seats.
4. A Phoenician chose the name
In a “Name the Team” contest sponsored by The Arizona Republic, the team name of “The Suns” was chosen from 28,000 entries that also included Scorpions, Cougars, Thunderbirds, Wranglers, Mustangs and Tumbleweeds. We’re pretty relieved the Suns won.
3. They have a super rookie
Suns guard Devin Booker is not only the youngest player in the NBA, but before his birthday on October 30, he was the first 18 year old in the NBA to score in the double digits in 10 years.
2. They are alone in the desert
The Phoenix Suns is the only team in the Pacific division of the Western Conference that is not based in California. The other teams currently in the division are the Los Angeles Clippers, the Golden State Warriors, the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers.
1. They are even better than you think
Although they have never won an NBA Championship, the Phoenix Suns have made two Finals appearances (1976 and 1993) and 29 Playoff appearances. They are also fourth in the rankings of all-time winning percentage in the entire NBA. We are only behind the Spurs, Lakers and Celtics respectively.