You thought the Suns were the only ones that wanted revenge? Well, they’re not the only ones.
The Lakers do, too.
I’m sure it’s really sweet for Phoenix to finally get past the demons that are known as the San Antonio Spurs. And they did it in the sweetest way possible. They surprisingly swept the Spurs in what we thought was going to be a long, grueling series.
But, hey, the City of Angels haven’t forgotten.
After the Lakers missed the 2005 postseason, the Lakers made it back the next year as a 7th seed. The Lakers were on the verge of upsetting the Suns after Kobe Bryant stabbed the Suns with a game-winner in Game 4. But then the Suns came back to win the series with three straight after one Raja Bell clothesline, one Tim Thomas clutch shot (yeah, I know), and one passive performance by Kobe that it led to Charles Barkley criticizing him on air.
And the next season after that, the Lakers were plastered in the first round in five games by that same Phoenix Suns team. It was that summer that Kobe demanded a trade. So the Suns could’ve been responsible for Kobe bolting to a team like Chicago but Mitch Kupchak stuck to his guns.
Instead, it was the Pau Gasol fleece that temporarily halted the Steve Nash era. In what I thought was a panic move, the Suns (which had the best record in the West at the time) traded Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks for Shaquille O’Neal. The Suns would lose to those same Spurs in the postseason while the Lakers went all the way to the Finals. The Suns would not make the playoffs with that team the next season… while the Lakers ended up winning it all.
So maybe it’s the Suns that really want revenge on the Lakers for breaking up a team temporarily with a championship core. Nevertheless, nobody really expected the Suns to be in the Western Conference Finals… while the Lakers were expected to be back for their third West Finals appearance. One of these two teams have been fixtures at the top of the West for the last decade now… but they haven’t met in the Conference Finals since Magic Johnson was leading Showtime.
For the Lakers, they want to cool off the Suns to avenge those Playoff losses. For the Suns, they want to freeze them Lakers in L.A. for interrupting their road to the top. And they both know that revenge is a dish best served… cold.
Welcome to the Western Conference Finals.
PHOTO CREDIT: Rick Hossman/AP.