“We could’ve been Golden State before Golden State”

Steve Nash and Mike D’Antoni were a match made in heaven. D’Antoni had a wild idea of how to play, and Nash was the perfect point guard to implement it. The “7 seconds or less” Suns were spectacular to watch and racked up a lot of wins. Unfortunately, they never won it all. Injury bad luck and an absurd suspension in the playoffs cost them the chance to make it to the Finals. Steve Nash sat down with his former coach to talk about those teams.

The first question was an obvious one – where did it come from? Years after these Suns, Charles Barkley was saying the Warriors would never win a title because you can’t win a title with a jump-shooting team. It took a very long time to accept that 3 is 50% more than 2, and that teams should take advantage of this. The Suns were amongst the first teams to change the basketball paradigm – you take an open three whenever it’s offered by the defense, whether it’s in the first or last second of the shot clock.

“I’ve had old coaches say ‘When you get in trouble, go small. When you get really in trouble, you go smaller.’

Mike D’Antoni, NBA on TNT

That concept stuck around with coach D’Antoni, and he had the players in Phoenix to implement it. Nash at point guard, Marion could guard 4s, Stoudemire could cover 5s – it seems so obvious today, but it was considered insane back in those days. That lineup would barely be regarded as a small-ball lineup today, and it was revolutionary in 2007.

After loosing dramatically, D’Antoni and GM Steve Kerr caved under the pressure of conventional basketball thinking. They traded for Shaq, and it marked the end of “7 seconds or less” Suns. Looking back on it, Nash and D’Antoni agree a change was necessary, but not in that direction.

“We went back toward more traditional, were if we had gone toward more untraditional, we could’ve been Golden State before Golden State.” 

Mike D’Antoni, NBA on TNT

It’s no wonder that the man who played Draymond at the 5 once David Lee got hurt was the GM of those Suns teams – Steve Kerr. D’Antoni doesn’t want to make the same mistake again, being in his final year under contract, he was OK with the Rockets trading Clint Capella and going all the way with small-ball. We’ll find out if it works soon enough.