Currently the Phoenix Suns owner is Robert Sarver. But there is a lot more than it meets the eye…Today, the Phoenix Suns are known as the up-tempo team that has starred point guard (and league MVP in 2005 and 2006) Steve Nash, forward/center Amaré Stoudemire, and forward Shawn Marion in recent years under the leadership of coach Mike D’Antoni.
While the team has since changed its makeup, the Suns are still considered to be a run and gun team by many in the league. Before they became a perennial playoff contender, the Phoenix franchise started off as an expansion team in a market some considered too small to successfully host an NBA team.
The first Phoenix Suns owner was actually a set of owners: Arizona businessmen Karl Eller, Don Diamond, Richard Bloch, and Don Pitt, plus entertainer Andy Williams. This group of local lobbyers pushed to form the Suns in 1968, much to the chagrin the NBA commissioner at the time, J. Walter Kennedy.
Kennedy believed that Phoenix was too hot, small, and far away from the rest of the NBA cities to be a good host to a fledgling team. However, Bloch continually pushed the NBA, and finally the group was given the franchise.
They quickly hired Jerry Colangelo, previously a talent scout from the Chicago Bulls, to be the team’s first general manager. (Little did they know that they had just chosen the future Phoenix Suns owner!) It took a rough few early seasons for the Suns to find their footing in the league, but in 1975, their fortunes began to change.
After some key trades to make them competitive, the Suns were able to advance to their first NBA Finals series, facing off against the playoff veteran Boston Celtics. Though Boston eventually won, it took six games to put the Suns away, and they were not easy matches. The Phoenix Suns had gone from fledgling franchise to Finals contenders in a matter of seven years.
The Suns made the most out of the rest of the 1970s and the early 1980s, reaching the playoffs eight seasons in a row and building a solid fan base out in the desert. Then, potential disaster arrived: accusations made by teammate Walter Davis landed three of the active Suns players in trouble with the law under drug-related charges.
This scandal paved the way for Colangelo, who by now was intimately familiar with the franchise, to purchase the team, along with some other minor owners, for a record (at the time) $44 million. The beginning of the Colangelo era marked a quick turnaround for the Suns.
Trading for power forward Charles Barkley gave the Suns the edge they needed to advance to the Finals again; unfortunately for Phoenix, their rise coincided with the stardom of Michael Jordan, and they were defeated by the Bulls in six games.
Colangelo continued to meld the Suns into a uniquely talented team, with many big-named players passing through. In 2004, he announced the sale of the Suns to a group headed up by an Arizona businessman — the current Phoenix Suns owner, Robert Sarver.
The team quickly became an up-tempo, fast-firing squad under the leadership of 2005 Coach of the Year Mike D’Antoni. The Suns’ 62-20 record that year tied for their best in franchise history and gave them the first seed in the playoffs.
Unfortunately again, their proud season came during the same year many other teams had loaded up with considerable talent, including the team they lost to in the Conference Finals, the San Antonio Spurs.
Though many players have cycled through Phoenix since the record-tying season, the style of play has not changed, even under new head coach Alvin Gentry (who replaced Terry Porter after one season).