Three Suns Highlight Hall of Fame Inductees


This weekend, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will hold its annual induction ceremony in the silver-sphered ball building in Springfield, Massachusetts. The class of 2018 features some of the game’s most gifted passers, three-point shooters and pesky defenders. Heirs to Stephen Curry’s quick potshot release and Kawhi Leonard’s quiet, lock-down defense.

Three of the headliner inductees have been tangled in Phoenix Suns’ history: Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and Grant Hill. It is no fluke, but a tragic twist of basketball fate, that three of the most cherished Suns players–and two point guards no less–happen to be achieving legendary status at a time when the current team finds itself desperate for a starting point guard. “That’s sports,” some would say, but I curse the gods for their cruel humor.

The ceremony will be a celebration of the quick-moving aspect of the game and how it has evolved from these players. For Suns fans, it will be small retribution for a franchise still looking for a winning reputation.

Steve Nash

Steve Nash, arguably the slickest point guard in basketball’s history, has the strongest ties to Phoenix. He played two stints from 1996-98 and 2004-12. He led a team, with Coach Mike D’Antoni, into symbolic history with their “seven seconds or less” gameplan that has since been pilfered and splintered among coaching circles.

Nash played for Santa Clara University in California. Drafted in the first round by Phoenix in 1996, he also played for Dallas and ended his career in Los Angeles, but the lower half of his back stayed in Phoenix. The eight-time NBA All-Star also pulled off the rare feat of back-to-back MVP seasons in 2005 and 2006. He stands third with the all-time number of assists, but first in the prettiest. He enters the Hall with averages of 14.3 points, 8.5 assists and 42.8% 3-pt FG in 1,217 NBA games.

Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd kept the Suns afloat in the post-Barkley years and was a sort of mentor to Nash. Sure, he played for other, mostly better, teams. He made the Nets relevant by throwing lobs to Vinsanity and Richard “RJ” Jefferson while leading them to the 2002 Finals. He did two tours for Dallas and, in the second, brought them a title with Dirk in a thrilling series against Miami in 2011. He was on the last decent Knick team. But, for Phoenix, Jason Kidd went blonde and we must never forget.

Jason Kidd was a pure bully point guard and not someone to blink at. Co-Rookie of the Year with Grant Hill, Kidd stands at second for all-time assists AND steals. (Achingly fitting then, that Gary Payton will be inducting him.) The ten-time NBA All-Star was only the third player to become a head coach the year after retiring as a player. In 1,391 NBA games, Kidd averaged 12.6 points, 8.7 assists, and 6.3 rebounds per game.

Grant Hill

Grant Hill’s career started off with wins and adoration, becoming an NCAA champion in 1991 and 1992 with Duke. Hill was drafted by the Detroit Pistons and as mentioned above, was co-Rookie of the Year with Kidd. Early injuries hobbled and followed him through seven seasons with Orlando. He arrived in Phoenix with newfound vigor and agility. Hill overcame the injuries and significant time off to become the reliable, able-bodied vet to Nash’s ageless play-making on the Suns from 2007-12. When Hill played for Phoenix, he was not afraid to cut sharp to the basket and take the contact. The seven-time NBA All-Star averaged 16.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 1,026 NBA games.

Ray Allen

Another cunning player, Ray Allen, also headlines this year’s class. The Celtic friend and foe, who took his killer instinct to South Beach to play for Miami during a war between the beach and the bay, will be inducted by Reggie Miller. Another moment of pure synergy from the basketball universe. Allen, a 10-time NBA All-Star, won a championship with both the Celtics (2008) and the Heat (2013). Allen was drafted by Milwaukee and played for the long lost Seattle SuperSonics along the way as well.

One of the smoothest, cool-handed three-point shooters ever, one of Allen’s best moments stemmed from walking calmly over to the TNT Broadcast booth to shake the hand of Miller, the man whose title he had just yanked. Allen is the current leader in three-pointers made, a status Miller held for many years. Allen should make t-shirts because, impressive as it is, Curry isn’t too far away at number 7. Allen posted 18.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 40.0% 3-pt FG per contest over 1,300 NBA games.

Maurice Cheeks

Four-time All-Star and player favorite, Maurice “Mo” Cheeks, will be inducted by Billy Cunningham and Julius Erving. Cheeks played for five teams and has been head coach for three. He sits fifth with the all-time steal leaders and is a five-time NBA All-Defensive Team player. He’s currently an assistant coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He averaged 11.1 points, 6.7 assists and 2.1 steals in 1,101 NBA games.

Other inductees of the 2018 class include NCAA coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell; two-time EuroLeague champion Dino Radja; NBA All-Star and champion Charlie Scott; seven-time WNBA All-Star Katie Smith; nine-time WNBA champion Tina Thompson; NBA executive Rod Thorn; early pioneer of the game Ora Mae Washington; and NBA executive Rick Welts, who has worked for the Warriors, Suns and Mercury and has been credited for the genesis of All-Star Weekend.


About Eli Jace

Eli Jace is from Arizona and a lifelong Phoenix Suns fan. Jordan is greater than Kobe is greater than Lebron. My NBA Mount Rushmore would have the perfectly chiseled faces of Charles Barkley, Steve Nash, Shawn Kemp and Kevin Garnett. These are my basketball facts.

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