Although many do not regard the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers as heated rivals, history is different.
All rivalries need subplots, recurring themes and figures to make it attractive and dramatic. Which LeBron James is on the Lakers, he will play four times against the Sun this season. And with three years on its contract, Suns fans will see that both Pacific Division teams are fighting each other to return to the playoff hunt.
The Suns and Lakers have often stood in the way of each other's champions ambitions.
As such, here are five reasons that prove why these teams have a rivalry that has existed for twenty years.
Kobe Bryant says he hates the Suns & # 39; & # 39;
The Suns ensured that the Black Mamba spewed its most powerful poison during its flowering.
Kobe Bryant said he "hated" the Suns after a loss in Phoenix in 2016. He called the epic playoff battles of his career a "real rivalry".
One game that has been etched into the memory of every Suns and Lakers fan is when Raits Bell Raja Bell kept Kobe Bryant on the alert during Game 5 of a first-round play-off series in 2006. Yet Bryant finished with a game high with 29 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
"Damned, I hated them," said Bryant about the Suns against ESPN. "Absolutely, Raja [Bell] and Steve and all those goodies. Hated them. No question. But at the same time I loved them because they got the best out of me and my teammates. So the relationship is a love-hate relationship, because I hated the fact that they were so good and prevented us from winning, but at the same time I loved how good they were and I knew we should be better. It is a love-hate relationship.
"That was really a rivalry for me .The Sacramento thing was not really one because we beat them every time, Phoenix, they kicked our butts and we had to bounce back and overcome them." That is really rivalry. "
Lakers almost put Sun on the wrong side of history
In the playoffs of the western conference in 1993, the top seeds of Suns were pushed to the edge of elimination by the number 8 seed Lakers after the first two games of the best-of-five series.
After Game 2 Suns coach Paul Westphal guaranteed a comeback from Suns.
"We are 0-2 behind and I know the question is whether you are dead," said Westphal. "No. We're going to win the series."
And they did.
The Suns avoided to be the first number 1 seed in history to be eliminated by a No. 8 seed that came past the Lakers 3-2.
Suns helped the end of Lakers & Showtime & # 39; mark the heyday
The Lakers were the team of the 80s. They won five NBA titles, most of all sports franchises that were that decade.
The "Showtime" Lakers were led by Magic Johnson, had the NBA's foremost scorer in the center of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and their smooth Hollywood-style coach in Pat Riley.
But the Suns were a constant nuisance for the Lakers championship path during four playoff series on their way to the NBA Finals.
In 1990, a season after Abdul-Jabbar & # 39; s retirement, the Suns finally got revenge. She defeated the powerful Lakers in Game 5 of the Western conference semifinals and won the series 4-1. A month later, Riley resigned from the Lakers.
Shaq and Kobe co-MVP & # 39; s 2009 All-Star Game
The "Kobe vs. Shaq" series was the downfall of the Lakers dynasty in the early 2000s.
Shaquille O & # 39; Neal and Bryant went from one of the biggest duos in the history of the NBA to the worst enemies before the Lakers lost in the 2004 NBA Finals. Many, including O & # 39; Neal, blamed Bryant for pulling the line in the sand by threatening to leave the team if Shaq was not traded.
After O & # 39; Neal played four and a half seasons four months for Miami Heat, the Suns got it in February 2009. When Phoenix organized the All-Star Game the same month, both Bryant and Shaq earned the most valuable honor.
Bryant and O & # 39; Neal & # 39; s beef had apparently sunk when they hugged each other on the home of the Suns with millions of witnesses, and it was dichotomous because O & # 39; Neal joined the most hated team of Bryant.
Kobe Bryant broke the Suns in 2010
The Suns had one of the best teams in the history of the NBA to never win a championship. In the 2010 play-offs, the Lakers wanted to repeat themselves as world champion, but the Suns and Amar & # 39; e Stoudemire-led Suns stood in their way.
The Lakers came in the 2010 Western Conference final against the Suns with a vengeance due to some physical encounter between the teams in the regular season. Oh, and the fact that the Suns had eliminated the Lakers in two consecutive playoff series in 2006 and 2007.
"There is no misunderstanding, there is no room to move – I absolutely hated them," Bryant said. "Yes, they stopped me to get a championship – twice."
The Suns knew they had to contain Bryant to win.
Former Suns assistant director of basketball operations Amin Elhassan, who is currently an NBA commentator for ESPN, said that their well-executed game plan Bryant did not keep his game-high 37 points and the Lakers won the series 4-2.
"I always go back to Game 6 because we did it and it did not matter, and sometimes it just does not matter," said Elhassan. "You can have the cheat letter and you still can not pass the test, and that is where individual talent sometimes just goes up."
After that game, the front office of the Suns started to break his team.
After several transactions, the most notable losses were Amar & # 39; e Stoudemire who joined the New York Knicks with former Suns coach Mike D & # 39; Antoni, and Steve Nash traded in 2012 to the Lakers. The Suns have not made the playoffs since 2010.