Harrison Simmons ‘22
The eardrums of Carter Smith ‘22 felt completely overwhelmed by the noise in the arena while John Schumacher ‘22 was screaming, “oh my God,” in utter disbelief after Deandre Ayton’s game-winning “Valley-oop.”
This moment to win Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals was made possible after the Phoenix Suns made the NBA playoffs for the first time since the 2009-10 NBA season.
However, before the Suns could reach the Conference Finals to play the Los Angeles Clippers, the No. 2 seeded Suns had to face off against the reigning champions, the Los Angeles Lakers.
“We got into the stadium and players are warming up, and Chris Paul does a dunk and the crowd goes crazy,” said Ben Coury ‘23 ahead of Game 1 against the Lakers.
But once the game started the emotions of the crowd began to fluctuate.
“I thought we were going to lose that series, to be honest,” said Mario Molinari ‘24 when Chris Paul went to the locker room with a shoulder injury. “That was scary.”
Molinari was like thousands of other Suns fans that day who thought that the Phoenix Suns’ redemption season, after a decade of terrible basketball, would come to an unfortunate close.
Fortunately, their journey was not meant to end so soon as Chris Paul returned later in the game. “When he came out of the locker room, everybody went crazy like we had just won everything,” Coury said.
The Suns used the momentum of Paul’s return to win Game 1 and knock out the Lakers in six games, and eventually make it to the Western Conference Finals by sweeping the Denver Nuggets.
The Suns entered Game 2 of the Clippers series up 1-0 and riding an eight-game win streak. The opportunity to set a franchise Playoff winning streak was in jeopardy as the Suns were down one to the LA Clippers with .9 seconds remaining in the game.
Then Deandre Ayton finished off an alley-oop from a Jae Crowder inbound pass to go up by one and steal Game 2 from Los Angeles.
“The environment was crazy…way crazier than any other sports game I’ve been to,” Smith said.
While some fans were like Smith and soaked up this incredible Arizona sports moment, other fans reacted to this play much differently. “I hugged my dad. I just started screaming…because I couldn’t believe it,” Schumacher said, “I started hugging random people around me. It was a surreal feeling.”
To end their storybook season, the Suns made it to their first finals since 1993 where they played the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks were the last obstacle standing in the way of Phoenix’s first-ever NBA championship.
For the Finals, celebrities showed up as Lebron James, Adele, Vanessa Hudgens, Kyler Murray, and Lil’ Wayne sat courtside to watch the most important games in Suns history.
“The atmosphere was energetic, excited…surreal,” Coury said. while reminiscing about what it was like to be at the NBA Finals.
This finals run meant so much to every Suns fan who got the chance to witness these games in person.
While the Suns were not able to bring home their first-ever championship, the Valley is excited for what’s to come as Phoenix’s future is as bright as the Sun.