Remember 1990

As the Suns and Flakers prepare to meet in this season's Western Conference Finals, it got me thinking about another Phoenix-Lal series from not too long ago.  20 years ago actually.  LA was the top seed coming off a 63 win regular season.  They had made the Finals 7 of the previous 8 seasons and won titles in 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988.  They had Magic Johnson, the MVP of that 1990 campaign, his 3rd such award in 4 years.  And they were heavy favorites in their second round matchup vs the 4th seeded Suns.

But something happened in that series that changed the landscape in the NBA.  Phoenix came in under the radar and knocked Lal off, stunning them in 5 games.  The main culprit was Kevin Johnson, who played out of his mind in that series.  LA had no answer for the point guard who would routinely blow past Magic at will in that series and would help change a lot of things in LA.  Riley would resign as coach after that year and the Flakers' aura of invincibility was gone. Suddenly, they were beatable.

I couldn't help but think of this season's playoffs.  Granted it's the Western Finals, not the semifinals, but the similarities are compelling.  Not too many people really are giving this Phoenix team a chance.  Even though Lal struggled in their first round series, that seems like a distant memory because of how lame the Jazz are and how they were undermanned in their series.  The Flakers are again beginning to be seen as unbeatable.

There's obvious differences too.  That Phoenix team was really solid.  Beside KJ they had Tom Chambers, Jeff Hornacek, Eddie Johnson, a young Dan Majerle and an underrated Mark West, who averaged 11 and 10 in the playoffs.

So if Stoudemire can play the statistical role of Chambers (good possibility), Nash can do his best Kevin Johnson impression (probable), can Jason Richardson, Grant Hill and Channing Frye emulate Hornacek, Johnson and West?  That's to be determined.

Here's hoping history can repeat itself in this series.  Go Suns!