The last time the Phoenix Suns played in the NBA Finals back in 1993, Charles Barkley was the team’s best player and the NBA MVP.
In that series, the Suns dropped the first two games and fell behind 3-1 before bowing out to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in six games. In an interview with Greg Moore of the Arizona Republic, Barkley shared some guidance for the current group of Suns as they get ready to take on the Milwaukee Bucks for the NBA title.
Sir Charles’ main piece of advice for Suns stars Chris Paul and Devin Booker: be aggressive and set the tone.
“If I’m Book or Chris, I’m gonna be more vocal and more aggressive to start the game, to get us off to a good start,” Barkley said.
Barkley went on to add that he wishes he had done a better job of preparing his team for the start of the 1993 NBA Finals.
“I think it was my fault in Game 1 for not having us ready to play,” he said. “What I mean by that, it’s really different. You go from 50 reporters to 1,000 reporters, and it’s a shock to your system. … The excitement. The nerves. The energy. Whatever words you can use, it’s different.”
Fortunately, this year’s Suns, unlike their 1993 counterparts, will be facing a team without any NBA Finals experience. The Bulls entered that series 28 years ago looking for a third-straight championship.
Interestingly, while Barkley played four stellar seasons in Phoenix in the 1990s and he lent his expertise to Paul and Booker before Game 1 tonight, the TNT analyst is picking the Bucks to win the series. Wonder how that sits with fans in the desert.
Game 1 of Bucks-Suns is set for 9 p.m. ET tonight on ABC.