For the first time since 1993, the NBA Finals makes its way to the desert state of Arizona, the home of the Phoenix Suns. Furthermore, for future Hall of Famer Chris Paul and rising superstar Devin Booker, it’s their first trip to basketball’s grandest stage. A 130-103 victory over the LA Clippers gives Phoenix the Western Conference championship in six games and sends them back to a spot where they had not been since Charles Barkley led them there.
It’s been a long journey for Paul, considering all of his great accomplishments throughout his career and notable moments such as when a potential trade for him from the New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Lakers was vetoed by the late NBA commissioner David Stern. Now, he gets an opportunity to play on the grand stage and capture a championship ring that has eluded him for so long.
Meanwhile, for Booker, he’s playing with an edge that would have his mentor, the late Kobe Bryant, wiping his eyes. Bryant was undoubtedly watching from above on a 24×8 flat-screen television and applauding Booker for shaping his own legacy while being four wins away from every NBA player’s dream.
Also, how can we not feel anything but love for head coach Monty Williams, who, in his second season with the team, has them in the NBA Finals and riding high with palpable yet contained confidence. The Western Conference finals trophy is, without question, a beautiful piece of hardware, but it pales in comparison to the Larry O’Brien trophy.
The Phoenix Suns scored a big victory, and all of their players deserve this rare opportunity to secure their place in NBA lore.
If nothing else, winning in Game 6 was even sweeter considering how the Suns stood up for Paul after he took a cheap shot from Patrick Beverly, which ultimately resulted in an ejection.
But the headlines can’t be directed towards a player on a losing team with no class. Instead, we should be focusing on the team that won and has a rare opportunity in front of them. A chance that so many have craved yet never achieved. Many greats have never played in an NBA Finals or appeared and never won it all. The Suns have not ever won a title, and the last time they were there, they fell to Michael Jordan and the Bulls, albeit on a shot from John Paxson.
The journey still has one more chapter, and it’s one that Phoenix would love to have on their side. Paul and Booker are unquestionably the main attraction, and having a highlight reel for a big man in DeAndre Ayton is simply icing on the cake. Whomever they face out of the East, though, won’t be a pushover, whether it be Milwaukee or Atlanta. It’ll be on Williams’ shoulders to have his troops ready to bear the heat.
For now, they can at least soak in the moment that they are four wins away from their championship dreams. Phoenix is back in the NBA Finals, and they are bringing some star power to the big stage. The 2021 Western Conference Champions? Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and the Phoenix Suns.