We have reached the end of the countdown. Flame on, you crazy Dragon.

We here at Bright Side of the Sun will be kicking off our summertime Throwback Thursday series a bit early as we pay homage to the great Seven Seconds or Less era of the Phoenix Suns in light of the recent retirement of legendary maestro Steve Nash. Join us every Thursday as we count down the top ten moments of high-octane glory from Nash's return to the desert in 2004 to their final playoff run in 2010.

And yes, the Shaquille O'Neal chapter will properly omitted.

Check out the previous installments here:

10. Nash drops 22 dimes on LeBron's Cavs

9. Amar'e destroys Anthony Tolliver

8. Nash and Kidd battle to the death

7. Grant Hill teaches Jerryd Bayless to respect his elders

6. The wonderful weirdness of the Bench Mob

5. Raja Bell and the 2006 playoffs

4. Nash dominates Dallas

3. Tim Thomas breaks the Lakers

2. Cyclops Steve sweeps the Spurs

What makes a moment truly great?

Is it the improbability factor, when something that no one saw coming suddenly hits such a startling crescendo that you seriously wonder if what you're experiencing is occurring within the bounds of reality?

All the better when they develop over the course of an extended period of time, rather than those of the blink-and-you-miss-it variety, right?

And as far as sports go, great moments often entail a "good guys versus villains" subplot too, don't they? Underdogs always make a story more compelling, and when they suddenly start landing haymakers on the Clubber Langs of the world, few things in the universe are more captivating.

For these reasons, Goran Dragic's fourth-quarter explosion in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals versus the dreaded San Antonio Spurs takes the top spot in the countdown.

Steve Nash closed out the Spurs in the following game with an eye sealed shut, but completing the sweep was only the culmination of what Dragic had made possible.

The Suns were not supposed to win Game 3.

The series would be evened up in San Antonio and it would probably go seven games -- everyone had already decided this. Even though the Suns were up 2-0, and even though they had played beautiful basketball in the first two games in Phoenix, the Spurs were playing pretty damn well too, and would hold serve in Texas because that's the kind of thing the Spurs do.

On a personal note, I caught the game at my favorite happy hour spot, Papago Brewing Co. in Scottsdale. I stuck to what was my usual routine at the time: two big bottles of Arrogant Bastard Ale and a quesadilla, spaced out over about 3 hours -- then a coffee for the road from the Dutch Bros drive-thru.

For those who have never been to Papago, it isn't a sports bar. They have televisions that are usually showing sports, but it's nothing resembling a Zipp's or BWW. I generally prefer the company of weirdos when I'm imbibing alcohol, and you're not very likely to counter many people that fit the bill at a sports bar.

People in sports bars generally have their shit somewhat together, or at least keep their shit under wraps when they make public appearances.

How boring.

I'm not saying that Papago is a haven for the sick and disturbed -- T.T. Roadhouse was less than a mile away if that was all I wanted -- but it struck a nice balance for a post-work beverage in case one of my fellow employees decided to come along and see how I spent my time after ditching the necktie.

So it was that I was at Papago Brewing Co on May 7, 2010 when the Dragon awoke.

The cool about being there was that the patrons only had a passing interest at best watching the game, not only meaning that I had the best seat in the house directly in front of their big-screen television, but also it made the experience even more incredible when this Slovenian dude suddenly had every drunken patron glued to the screen and exploding with every improbable basket.

When Dragic drew a foul on a made three-pointer from the corner, for that one moment it might as well have been Majerle's on crack.

All told, Dragic scored 23 points in the 4th quarter as the Suns blew the game open to take a 3-0 series lead while the Spurs' faithful stood slack-jawed.

Everything about his performance was so insanely unbelievable that it would've made the cheesiest Hollywood sports movie ever. They might as well replace Dragic with a golden retriever and get Matt LeBlanc to costar. It would only be slightly less ridiculous than what happened to the Spurs on that night.

And how about those Spurs? The mighty Spaceball One, thwarted by a former second-round pick that they themselves saw fit to trade for Malik Hairston -- he of 472 career minutes in the NBA. A shell-shocked Manu Ginoboli was left to mutter, "everything we tried to do, it was a bucket and it was demoralizing."

Schadenfreude: Level Omega.

The Suns went on to complete the sweep, aided by a ballsy performance by a one-eyed Steve Nash, but Dragic gets the nod here for the single best moment of the Seven Seconds or Less era. There were certainly bigger names -- Nash, Stoudemire, Marion, Bell -- but no bigger single moment than when the Spurs were finally reduced to mere mortals at the hand of a backup point guard.

For that moment, the pain of the suspensions and Duncan's wide open three-point splash were alleviated.

That's some incredible stuff right there.

While Dragic had a ... let's say interesting Suns career following his legendary performance, entailing one 3rd team All-NBA appearance and two ugly breakups, today we toast the Dragon for his best fire-breathing moment.

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On August 1, 2015, Lon Babby will no longer be the head of the Phoenix Suns Basketball Operations department for the first time in 5 years.

When he stepped into the fray in the summer of 2010, he was handed the meat cleaver, given the nasty job of navigating the franchise through what was sure to be one of the most difficult periods in franchise history if not handled absolutely perfectly.

And to be sure, he didn't handle it perfectly.

"I don't give myself a pat on the back," he said recently. "I wish I could have accomplished more."

In Babby's five years at the helm, the Suns had records of 40-42, 33-33, 25-57, 48-34 and 39-43, never once making the playoffs running a franchise with the league's 4th best winning percentage in league history.

Contributing to the middling seasons was managing the last productive years of Steve Nash's career and the front office's disbelief in the concept of tanking games for a high draft pick. Each of Babby's first two off seasons at the helm were about treading water, not investing too much in an aging core but not having the losses to equate to a high draft pick.

"We always wish we had won more games, and made it into the playoffs," he said.

The playoff-less stretch of futility was only matched in infamy in the franchise's first five years of existence, more than 40 years ago.

Knowing his limitations on the talent evaluation side, Babby hired a rookie GM, Lance Blanks, who was supposed to be his "basketball genius". What he got was something... less than that.

Losing Steve Nash at some point was a foregone conclusion, but trying to replace he and Grant Hill with Raymond Felton and Michael Beasley was a disastrous idea. Reportedly, only managing partner Robert Sarver's last minute epiphany to sign Goran Dragic over Felton saved the Suns from an even worse near-term future.

"I played well to my strengths," Babby said. "But I'm disappointed we didn't win more games. At a snapshot right now, we did a lot of good things but didn't win enough games."

Surely, Babby cleared up the Suns books. The basketball staff picked players, and Babby got them signed. He oversaw the whole operation, though, so poor player scouting falls on Babby's shoulders as much as anyone.

The bottom dropped out in Babby's third and final year of his contract, the 2012-13 season. The Suns dipped to their second worst record in franchise history (25-57) and limped to the season's finish without having found any stars around whom to build in the future.

Babby could have walked away that summer, and Robert Sarver could easily have booted him out the door alongside Blanks and Lindsey Hunter.

But Babby always had the Suns' best interests at heart, and the books, the cap sheet - Babby's bailiwick - were in good position for a quick turnaround. Sarver decided to keep Babby on for a couple more years to try to right the ship.

"We lost our way," he said that summer as he signed a two-year extension while using the meat cleaver on his own hand-picked GM and coach.

And just like gambling, where a losing streak can become a winning streak with one roll of the dice, Babby turned the Suns' fortunes around with one hire. If the Suns were a basketball on its way down from 2010-2013, this hiring was the first sign that the ball had finally bounced and was on its way back up.

He convinced one of the league's best young aspiring GMs, Ryan McDonough, to come to the Valley to work the rebuild with him. Together, they hired a coach, Jeff Hornacek, who not only could coax a winning season out of a ragtag roster but also re-awaken a dormant fan base on name recognition alone.

Two years later, the Suns still have not made the playoffs, but the roster and the team's future is in a better place than it's been since before he arrived. The Suns still don't have that sure-fire superstar on the roster, but the roster is deep and talented enough to reach those playoffs if all goes well this season.

"I'm very proud of a lot of things I've accomplished during my presidency," Babby reflected. "We went through a very challenging transitional period. If I look back on it, I wish we had won more games. I wish it was not quite as fitful as it was."

Sure enough, the infrastructure is sound. Despite the turnover in most areas, Babby has kept the Training Staff Mafia intact - one of the best training and rehab staffs in the entire league. Under his guidance, the team has also developed a supportive family atmosphere for players' spouses and children, led by Joyce Ponder, and has a top-notch training room and facilities. They also have made advances in basketball analytics, being among the first wave of teams to install the SportVu motion cameras all over the arena that feed those new advanced stats.

Now, at age 64, he steps back a bit to allow the young guns to take over. Ryan McDonough, Assistant GMs Trevor Buckstein and Pat Connelly are all in their 30s.

"Two years ago, when I re-signed," he said of how he planned this transition. "It's something that I've talked about for a long time. This was a natural evolution of what I expected."

He will no longer be running the day-to-day operations of the Suns. Instead, in his new role as Senior Advisor, he will go back to what we used to do.

"My new role," he says. "In a lot of ways is gong to be like my old role before becoming President of the Suns. Advising people, being a counselor, and not having to execute on anything. I'll leave it to others for the day to day operations.

"That said, I think I'll still be very much involved in the planning and strategic thinking. And that's really, probably what I'm best at. I think it will be great for both of us.

"I'm still in a position to give help and guidance, but Ryan is more than qualified to run this on a day to day basis."

Babby has had a difficult time letting go. He knows the team is in a good place and he's ready to spend more time with his family, but he doesn't feel like he finished the job he came here to do. So stepping back into a half-time position allows him to still experience the euphoria of a playoffs before he retires.

But for now, he's just ready to take a step back from the grind.
Lon Babby press conf pic 072010


"I looked at my picture from my first press conference," he quipped. "And the only president that's aged more than I have in the last five years is Barack Obama."

He asked for this step-back, and in two days he will officially begin his new role as Senior Advisor.

"The organization is in great shape and I'll be able to ride the sidecar," he said.

For third-year center Alex Len, the upcoming 2015-16 season is make or break. Since being drafted fifth overall by the Suns in 2013, Len has made subtle strides in the right direction in terms of his...

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Much like Isaiah Thomas a year ago, Brandon Knight signed with the Phoenix Suns because they made him feel wanted.

"I wasn't here for long," Knight said at his press conference last week. "But once I got here from day one the organization showed me first class how they do things. They really did things the right way, asked my opinion on a lot of things."

Thomas was sold on the Suns after one visit a year ago. He said he's always just wanted to be wanted. He'd been, effectively, cut loose for nothing by the Kings and searched the market for a good opportunity and a long-term contract commitment from a team. He got the love and the money from the Suns, but the opportunity part was questionable.

Thomas wanted to start, but signed on to the Suns to be a backup. That's shows you what a good sales job the Suns did on Thomas, and also what makes the Knight signing so much different.

Knight knows he has a starting job waiting for him. He's sacrificing a bit on the ball handler part, but he will get all the minutes he can handle and will run the point at least half the game. That's all he wants.

"[The Suns] welcomed me with open arms," he said. "Showed how much they wanted me. That's a big reason I wanted to commit so early in the process.

"I didn't really entertain many other teams. That wasn't what I really wanted to do."

Indeed, Brandon Knight's agreement to a Bledsoe-matching 5 year, $70 million contract came within minutes of the starting gun at midnight Eastern on July 1, 2015. The Suns met him in California, where he flew on June 30 to accommodate a Suns front office team that wanted to be in California to see Tyson Chandler and LaMarcus Aldridge.

But the Suns would have flown anywhere to meet Knight first, then go on to California afterward.

"Nothing that we have done [this summer] has been more important than re-signing Brandon Knight," outgoing President Lon Babby said.

The Suns offered to meet Knight where ever he wanted, but instead Knight insisted on meeting the Suns where it was most convenient for them to get going on free agency. He met them in California at 9:01pm on June 30, quickly agreed to the "very fair" contract and offered to join the Suns on recruiting trips to see Chandler and Aldridge later that day.

Knight was all-in from the start of summer, where he insisted at the exit conferences in April that he wanted to get it done quickly and had already wanted to remain in Phoenix.

"I just really knew, after being here a couple of months, where my heart was at," he said.

"With the coaching staff that we have," he continued. "The young talent, adding Tyson Chandler, the signings that we had this summer, with a great front office - they guys that are doing the most they can do to improve our team - everything is in line with what you want for a championship caliber team.

"It kind of made my decision to get it done quickly a ‘no brainer'."

Knight, just barely turned 23 this spring, is already on his third NBA team. He's been a starter since day one in the league, but has been traded away twice now. Each year, he's improved to the point where he was the starting point guard for surprisingly good Milwaukee team (30-23 at the time of the trade), yet he was still traded.

He's been replaced by the eminently replaceable Brandon Jennings and Michael Carter-Williams. Both young, both promising, but neither more promising than Knight.

Why was he traded each time? Theories abound, but the truth is that neither Detroit nor Milwaukee got better without him. In fact, they got worse at least in the immediate aftermath.

It's no wonder Knight is excited to finally be with a team that really, really wants him. To the tune of a $70 million commitment.

"When you have a first class organization that wants you," he said. "With what I've been through thus far in my career, getting better each year - and trying to find a home - was very important to me."

Even after smart offseason additions like Tyson Chandler, stetch-4 Mirza Teletovic and promising rookie Devin Booker, the big story from the Phoenix Suns’ 2015 summer is still going to be...

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