Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award
The Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award is an annual National Basketball Association award given since the 1969 NBA Finals. The award is decided by a panel of eleven media members, who cast votes after the conclusion of the Finals; the person with the highest number of votes wins the award. The award was a black trophy with a gold basketball-shaped sphere at the top, similar to the Larry O'Brien Trophy, until a new trophy was introduced in 2005 to commemorate Bill Russell. Since its inception, the award has been given to 31 players. Michael Jordan is a record six-time award winner. Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Duncan and LeBron James won the award three times in their careers. Jordan and O'Neal are the only players to win the award in three consecutive seasons. Johnson is the only rookie to win the award, as well as the youngest at 20 years old. Andre Iguodala is the only winner to have not started every game in the series. Jerry West, the first awardee, is the only person to win the award while being on the losing team in the NBA Finals.
Willis Reed, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant won the award twice. Olajuwon, Durant and James have won the award in two consecutive seasons. Abdul-Jabbar and James are the only players to win the award for two teams. Olajuwon of Nigeria, who became a naturalized U. S. citizen in 1993, Tony Parker of France, Dirk Nowitzki of Germany are the only international players to win the award. Duncan is an American citizen, but is considered an "international" player by the NBA because he was not born in one of the fifty states or Washington, D. C. Parker and Nowitzki are the only winners to have been trained outside the U. S.. Cedric Maxwell is the only Finals MVP winner eligible for the Hall of Fame who has not been voted in. On February 14, 2009, during the 2009 NBA All-Star Weekend in Phoenix, then-NBA Commissioner David Stern announced that the award would be renamed the "Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award" in honor of 11-time NBA champion Bill Russell.
NBA Most Valuable Player Award NBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award General Specific
Larry Johnson (basketball, born 1969)
Lawrence Demetric Johnson is an American retired basketball player who spent his professional career in the National Basketball Association with the Charlotte Hornets and New York Knicks. At an listed height of 6'7" tall, he played at the power forward position, due to his strength. In his senior year of high school Johnson was a member of the 1987 McDonald's High School All-American Team that included future NCAA and NBA stars like Marcus Liberty, Elliot Perry, Mark Macon, Rodney Monroe, Dennis Scott, Elmore Spencer, Chris Corchiani, fellow Texas prep star LaBradford Smith. Johnson made a verbal commitment to Southern Methodist University, but began his collegiate career at Odessa College in Texas, he played in the 1987–88 and 1988–89 seasons where he averaged 22.3 points per game as a freshman and over 29 points per game his sophomore year, became the first—and to this day, only—player to win the National Junior College Athletic Association Division 1 Player of the Year award both years he played.
There were some basketball analysts who believed Johnson could have been a first round selection in the 1989 NBA draft if he had declared for early entry. Johnson transferred to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to play under head coach Jerry Tarkanian. Alongside future NBA players Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony, Johnson faced the Duke Blue Devils in the title game of the 1990 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. UNLV went on to win the contest by a score of 103–73, with Johnson contributing 22 points and 11 rebounds; the Runnin' Rebels set simultaneous NCAA records for the largest margin of victory and highest score in an NCAA Tournament championship game. In a post-season mired by charges of recruiting violations and misconduct by UNLV, an agreement was reached between the university and the NCAA to allow for the defense of their title for the 1990–91 season, which would be followed by a suspension from post-season play the following season. Johnson and the Runnin' Rebels responded with a perfect regular season record of 27–0, with an average scoring margin of 26.7 points per game.
In the 1991 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, UNLV won the West Regional Tournament only to be upset by eventual champion Duke in the Final Four. Johnson was named a First Team All-American twice, won the Big West Conference Player of the Year and tournament Most Valuable Player awards in 1990 and 1991, he won the prestigious John R. Wooden Award and was named Naismith College Player of the Year in 1991. To this day, Johnson is ranked 12th in career scoring and 7th in rebounding at UNLV despite playing only two seasons, he holds the record for single-season and career field goal percentage. In 2002, Johnson and teammates Augmon and Anthony were inducted into the UNLV Athletic Hall of Fame along with the 1990–91 UNLV men's basketball team. To date they are the only UNLV team to make back-to-back Final Four appearances. Johnson was selected first overall in the 1991 NBA draft by the Charlotte Hornets, won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in his first season, he competed in the 1992 Slam Dunk Contest at the NBA All-Star Weekend in Orlando, finishing second to Cedric Ceballos of the Phoenix Suns.
In 1993, Johnson was voted to start in that year's All-Star Game, making him the first Hornet in franchise history to receive that honor. Along with Alonzo Mourning, Muggsy Bogues and Dell Curry, Johnson played with the Hornets at the height of their popularity in the early to mid-1990s. During this time, who went by his initialism "LJ" and the nickname "Grandmama", was featured on the cover of the premiere issue of SLAM. In October 1993, Johnson signed what was at the time the most lucrative contract in NBA history, a 12-year, $84 million deal with the Hornets. However, he missed 31 games after spraining his back on December 27, 1993 in a game against the Detroit Pistons. During the summer he played for the U. S. national team in the 1994 FIBA World Championship, winning the gold medal. Johnson had entered the league as an explosive power forward, averaging over 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. However, after the injury to his back, Johnson was forced to develop an all-around game with an improved outside shot.
In the 1994–95 season, he made 81 three-pointers, nearly 60 more than in his first three years combined, was selected to the 1995 NBA All-Star Game. Friction between Johnson and Mourning forced the organization to make a change, the resulting moves made by the Hornets left both players on other teams. Prior to the 1995 -- 96 season, Mourning was traded to the Miami Heat for Matt Geiger. Following that season Johnson was dealt to the New York Knicks for Brad Lohaus. Johnson averaged 12.8 points, a career-low, in his first season as a Knick, although he would never return to his former All-Star form, he was a key member of the Knicks' 1999 Eastern Conference championship team. During Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, he was involved in a critical play in which he was fouled by Antonio Davis of the Indiana Pacers. Standing outside the three-point line with 11.9 seconds left, Johnson held the ball, began to dribble. He leaned into defender Davis before jumping up; the referee called the foul about a half-second before Johnson released the ball, b
Naismith College Player of the Year
The Naismith College Player of the Year is an annual basketball award given by the Atlanta Tipoff Club to the top men's and women's collegiate basketball players. It is named in honor of the inventor of Dr. James Naismith. First awarded to male players in 1969, the award was expanded to include female players in 1983. Annually before the college season begins in November, a "watchlist" consisting of 50 players is chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club board of selectors, comprising head coaches and media members from across the United States. By February, the list of nominees is narrowed down to 30 players based on performance. In March, four out of the 30 players are placed in the final ballot; the final winners are selected in April by both the board of selectors and fan voting via text messaging. The winners receive the Naismith Trophy. Since its beginning in 1969, the trophy has been awarded to 23 female players. Lew Alcindor of the University of California, Los Angeles and Anne Donovan of Old Dominion University were the first winners, respectively.
Bill Walton of UCLA and Ralph Sampson of the University of Virginia have been the only men to win this award multiple times, with both winning three times. Eight women in all have won this award multiple times. Cheryl Miller of the University of Southern California and Breanna Stewart of the University of Connecticut are the only three-times winners, while seven others won it twice: Clarissa Davis of the University of Texas, Dawn Staley of the University of Virginia, Chamique Holdsclaw of the University of Tennessee, Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore of the University of Connecticut, Seimone Augustus of Louisiana State University, Brittney Griner of Baylor University. Davis and Moore are the only ones of either sex to have won multiple times in non-consecutive years. Two award winners were born in United States territories: Alfred "Butch" Lee, born in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Tim Duncan, born in the U. S. Virgin Islands; the only three award winners who have been born outside the jurisdiction of the United States were: Andrew Bogut, born in Melbourne, Australia.
Patrick Ewing, born in Kingston, Jamaica. Buddy Hield, born in Freeport, Bahamas. Three of these players were developed at least in the U. S. proper—Lee was raised in Harlem from early childhood, Ewing immigrated to the Boston area at age 12, Hield attended high school in suburban Wichita, Kansas. Duncan did not move to the U. S. proper until he arrived at Wake Forest University, Bogut lived in Australia until his arrival at the University of Utah. Duke has had the most male winners with eight, while Connecticut has had the most female winners, with ten awards won by six individuals; the award has been won by a freshman three times: Kevin Durant playing for Texas in 2007, in 2012 by Anthony Davis of Kentucky and Zion Williamson of Duke in 2019 List of U. S. men's college basketball national player of the year awards Naismith Prep Player of the Year Award Official website
New York Knicks
The New York Knickerbockers, more referred to as the Knicks, are an American professional basketball team based in the borough of Manhattan, in New York City. The Knicks compete in the National Basketball Association as a member of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference; the team plays its home games at Madison Square Garden, an arena they share with the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League. They are one of two NBA teams located in New York City. Alongside the Boston Celtics, the Knicks are one of two original NBA teams still located in its original city; the team, established by Ned Irish in 1946, was one of the founding members of the Basketball Association of America, which became the NBA after merging with the rival National Basketball League in 1949. The Knicks were successful during their early years and were constant playoff contenders under the franchise's first head coach Joe Lapchick. Beginning in 1950, the Knicks made three consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals, all of which were losing efforts.
Lapchick resigned in 1956 and the team subsequently began to falter. It was not until the late 1960s when Red Holzman became head coach that the Knicks began to regain their former dominance. Holzman guided the Knicks to two NBA championships, in 1970 and 1973; the Knicks of the 1980s had mixed success. The playoff-level Knicks of the 1990s were led by future Hall of Fame center Patrick Ewing. During this time, they were known for playing tough defense under head coaches Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy, making two appearances in the NBA Finals, in 1994 and 1999. However, they were unable to win an NBA championship during this era. Since 2000, the Knicks have struggled to regain their former glory, but won its first division title in 19 years in 2012–13, led by a core of forwards Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, they were eliminated in the Eastern Conference semi-finals by the Indiana Pacers, have failed to make the playoffs since. In 1946, basketball college basketball, was a growing and profitable sport in New York City.
Hockey generated considerable profits. Max Kase, a New York sportswriter, became the sports editor at the Boston American in the 1930s, when he met Boston Garden owner Walter A. Brown. Kase developed the idea of an organized professional league to showcase college players upon their graduation and felt it could become profitable if properly assembled. Brown, intrigued by the opportunity to attain additional income when the hockey teams were not playing or on the road, contacted several arena owners. On June 6, 1946, Kase and Brown and a group of seventeen others assembled at the Commodore Hotel in New York City, as the Basketball Association of America, where charter franchises were granted to major cities throughout the country. Ned Irish, a college basketball promoter, retired sportswriter and president of Madison Square Garden, was in attendance. Kase planned to own and operate the New York franchise himself and approached Irish with a proposal to lease the Garden. Irish explained that the rules of the Arena Managers Association of America stated that Madison Square Garden was required to own any professional teams that played in the arena.
On the day of the meeting, Kase made his proposal to the panel of owners. Irish wanted a distinct name for his franchise, representative of the city of New York, he called together members of his staff for a meeting to cast their votes in a hat. After tallying the votes, the franchise was named the Knickerbockers; the "Knickerbocker" name comes from the pseudonym used by Washington Irving in his book A History of New York, a name that became applied to the descendants of the original Dutch settlers of what became New York, by extension, to New Yorkers in general. In search of a head coach, Irish approached successful St. John's University coach Joe Lapchick in May 1946. Lapchick accepted after Irish promised to make him the highest paid coach in the league. Irish obliged, hiring former Manhattan College coach Neil Cohalan as interim coach for the first year. With no college draft in the league's initial year, there was no guarantee that the Knicks or the league itself would thrive. Teams focused on signing college players from their respective cities as a way to promote the professional league.
The Knicks held their first training camp in the Catskill Mountains at the Nevele Country Club. Twenty-five players were invited to attend the three-week session. Players worked out twice a day and the chemistry between the New York natives was instant. With a roster assembled, the Knicks faced the Toronto Huskies at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens on November 1, 1946, in what would be the franchise's first game—as well as the first in league history. In a low-scoring affair presented in front of 7,090 spectators, the Knicks defeated the Huskies 68–66 with Leo Gottlieb leading the Knicks in scoring with 14 points. With Madison Square Garden's crowded schedule, the Knicks were forced to play many of their home games at the 69th Regiment Armory during the team's early years; the Knicks went on to finish their inaugural campaign with a 33–27 record and achieved a playoff berth under Cohalan despite a dismal shooting percentage of 28 perce
Timothy Theodore Duncan is an American former professional basketball player. He spent his entire 19-year career with the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association. Duncan started out as a swimmer, did not begin playing basketball until ninth grade, he played basketball for St. Dunstan's Episcopal High School. In college, Duncan played for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, winning the Naismith College Player of the Year, USBWA College Player of the Year, John Wooden awards in his senior year. After graduating from college, Duncan earned NBA Rookie of the Year honors after being selected by San Antonio with the first overall pick in the 1997 NBA draft. Regarded as the greatest power forward of all time as well as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, he is a five-time NBA champion, a two-time NBA MVP, a three-time NBA Finals MVP, a 15-time NBA All-Star, the only player to be selected to both the All-NBA and All-Defensive Teams for 13 consecutive seasons. Off the court, Duncan is known for his active philanthropy.
He holds a degree in psychology and created the Tim Duncan Foundation to raise general health awareness and fund education and youth sports in various parts of the United States. Tim Duncan is the son of Ione, a midwife, William Duncan, a mason, he has two older sisters and Tricia, one older brother, Scott, a film director and cinematographer. He was born and raised on Saint Croix, one of the main islands composing the U. S. Virgin Islands. In school, Duncan was a bright pupil and dreamt of becoming an Olympic-level swimmer like his sister Tricia, his parents were supportive and Duncan excelled at swimming, becoming a teenage standout in the 50, 100 and 400 meters freestyle and aiming to make the 1992 Olympic Games as a member of the United States Team. When Hurricane Hugo destroyed the island's only Olympic-sized swimming pool in 1989, Duncan was forced to swim in the ocean and he lost his enthusiasm for swimming because of his fear of sharks. Duncan was dealt another emotional blow when his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and died one day before his 14th birthday.
In her last days, she made Duncan and his sisters promise to finish college with a degree, which would explain Duncan's refusal to leave college early. Duncan was inspired by his brother-in-law to turn to basketball. Duncan had difficulties adapting to the game he thought would help relieve his pain and frustration. Nancy Pomroy, the athletic director of the St. Croix Country Day School was quoted: " was so huge. So big and tall, but he was awfully awkward at the time." He overcame this to become a standout for the St. Dunstan's Episcopal High School, averaging 25 points per game as a senior, his play attracted the attention of several universities, despite having only picked up the game in ninth grade. Wake Forest University basketball coach Dave Odom in particular grew interested in Duncan after the 16-year-old played NBA star Alonzo Mourning to a draw in a 5-on-5 pick-up game. Odom was searching for a physical player to play near the basket. Given the weak level of basketball in the Virgin Islands, Odom was wary about Duncan at first after first meeting him and thinking him to be inattentive.
However, after the first talk, Odom understood that this was just Duncan's way of paying attention, discovered that he was not only athletically talented, but a quick learner. Despite scholarship offers by the University of Hartford, the University of Delaware and Providence College, Duncan joined Odom's Wake Forest Demon Deacons. In the year before Duncan's arrival at Wake Forest University, the Demon Deacons reached the Sweet 16, but lost main scorer Rodney Rogers, who entered the 1993 NBA draft. In the 1993–94 NCAA season, Coach Dave Odom was considering redshirting Duncan, but was forced to play him after fellow freshman big man Makhtar N'Diaye was ruled out due to NCAA rules violations and transferred to Michigan. Duncan struggled with early transition problems and was held scoreless in his first college game, but as the year progressed, he and teammate Randolph Childress led the Deacons to a 20–11 win-loss record. Duncan's style of play was simple but effective, combining an array of low-post moves, mid-range bank shots and tough defense.
He was chosen to represent the U. S. in the 1994 Goodwill Games. Meanwhile, Duncan worked towards a degree in psychology and took classes in anthropology and Chinese literature. Despite focusing on basketball, Wake Forest psychology department chairperson Deborah Best was quoted: "Tim was one of my more intellectual students. Other than his height, I couldn't tell him from any other student at Wake Forest." Duncan established his reputation as a stoic player, to the extent that opposing fans taunted him as "Mr. Spock", the prototypical logical, detached character from Star Trek. In the 1994–95 NCAA season, the sophomore was soon called one of the best eligible NBA prospects, along with his peers Joe Smith, Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse. Los Angeles Lakers general manager Jerry West suggested that Duncan might become the top pick in the 1995 NBA draft if he went early, but Duncan assured everyone he had no intention of going pro until he graduated though the NBA was planning to add a rookie salary cap in 1996.
He was determined to stay in school. In that season, he led the Demon Deacons into the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game against a Rasheed Wall
Daniel Ray Ainge is an American basketball executive and former professional basketball and baseball player. Ainge is the general manager and President of Basketball Operations for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association. Ainge was an outstanding high school athlete. At Brigham Young University, he was named national basketball college player of the year and won the John R. Wooden Award for the most outstanding male college basketball player. While in college, Ainge played parts of three seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball as a second baseman, he was drafted into the NBA by the Celtics. Ainge completed 14 seasons, playing for the Celtics, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns as a shooting guard, he went on to coach the Suns for three seasons before joining management of the Celtics, with whom Ainge has three NBA Championships to his credit. He is the only person to be named a high school first team All-American in American football and baseball.
Born in Eugene, Ainge starred in high school on his football team and led North Eugene High School to back-to-back state basketball championships in 1976 and 1977, earning all-state honors both years. As a junior, he was named to the 1977 Parade magazine High School All-America team. Ainge is the only person to be a high school first team All-American in football and baseball. Ainge played basketball at Brigham Young University, he hit one of the best-known shots in the 1981 NCAA March Madness tournament against Notre Dame when his coast-to-coast drive with seven seconds remaining gave the Cougars a one-point win. Ainge concluded his senior year by winning the Eastman Award, as well as the John R. Wooden Award—given to the best collegiate player in the nation. During his four-year career at BYU, Ainge was an All-American, a two-time First Team Academic All-American, the WAC Player of the Year and a four-time All-WAC selection, he concluded his college career having scored in double figures in 112 consecutive games, an NCAA record at that time.
Ainge was selected in baseball's 1977 amateur draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. He made it to the major leagues with the Blue Jays in 1979 in college. A second baseman, he played third base and outfield positions as well, hitting.220 in his baseball career with 2 home runs and 146 hits in 211 games. He is the youngest player in Blue Jays history to hit a home run, at 77 days. After three years with the Blue Jays, Ainge decided to pursue a career in basketball and was chosen in the 1981 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics, who had to buy out Ainge's contract from the Blue Jays after a legal battle. Ainge is one of 13 athletes that played in both the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball; the 13 are: Ainge, Frank Baumholtz, Gene Conley, Chuck Connors, Dave DeBusschere, Johnny Gee, Dick Groat, Steve Hamilton, Mark Hendrickson, Cotton Nash, Ron Reed, Dick Ricketts and Howie Schultz. Not everything went well for Ainge in NBA basketball at first, he had a terrible first day of practice, "shooting 0–2547", Larry Bird wrote in his autobiography Drive: The Story of My Life.
Celtics head coach Bill Fitch gave Ainge a rough time, saying his batting average was better than his shooting percentage on the basketball court. But Ainge became an important piece of the Celtics teams that won the NBA title in 1984 and 1986. Ainge was known as a brash, hard-nosed player who infuriated opponents. In a 1983 playoff game against Atlanta, he called 7-foot, 1-inch Tree Rollins a sissy, whereupon Rollins elbowed Ainge in the face. Ainge tackled the two began wrestling. Tree bit Ainge's middle finger so hard. Ainge was ejected from the contest for starting the fight; the incident prompted the headline "Tree Bites Man" on the Boston Herald. While playing for the Phoenix Suns, Ainge got into a tussle with Michael Jordan at midcourt. In a 1994 postseason game, Ainge rifled an inbounding pass at the head of Houston Rockets guard Mario Elie, striking him in the face, snapping his neck back. In 1989, Ainge was traded to the Sacramento Kings for young center Joe Kleine, whom the Celtics saw as a possible successor to the aging Robert Parish, Ed Pinckney.
In 1990, Ainge was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers for draft picks. Being a native of Oregon, he was considered a hometown favorite by Blazers fans, he helped. On June 5, he scored nine points in the extra period to tie an all-time NBA record for most points in an overtime during a finals game. After the 1991–92 season, Ainge became a free agent, he had stated in media interviews that he ideally wanted to stay in Portland and would contact Blazers management before entertaining offers from other teams. On July 1, 1992, Ainge signed a contract with the Phoenix Suns on his first day of free agency; the Phoenix Suns were a team looking for a new identity. They inaugurated a new home, hired a new head coach, acquired a new superstar; the team redesigned their logo and uniform when they signed free agent Ainge prior to the 1992–93 season, figuring that his experience would help the team during the playoffs. Ainge responded by scoring 11.8 points per game as the Suns went 62–20 that year and reached the NBA finals, where they lost to Michael Jordan's Bulls in six games.
On January 18, 1994, he became the second man to hit 900 three-poin
The Phoenix Suns are an American professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns compete in the National Basketball Association, as a member of the league's Western Conference Pacific Division, are the only team in their division not based in California; the Suns play their home games at the Talking Stick Resort Arena. The franchise began play in 1968 as an expansion team, their early years were shrouded in mediocrity, but their fortunes changed in the 1970s, after partnering long-term guard Dick Van Arsdale and center Alvan Adams with Paul Westphal, the Suns reached the 1976 NBA Finals, in what is considered to be one of the biggest upsets in NBA history. However, after failing to capture a championship, the Suns would rebuild around Walter Davis for a majority of the 1980s, until the acquisition of Kevin Johnson in 1988. Under Johnson, after trading for perennial NBA All-Star Charles Barkley, combined with the output of Tom Chambers and Dan Majerle, the Suns reached the playoffs for a franchise-record thirteen consecutive appearances and remained a regular title contender throughout the 1990s, reached the 1993 NBA Finals.
However, the team would again fail to win a championship, entered into another period of mediocrity until the early part of the 2000s. In 2004, the Suns reacquired Steve Nash, returned into playoff contention. With Nash, Shawn Marion, Amar'e Stoudemire, under head coach Mike D'Antoni, the Suns became renowned worldwide for their quick, dynamic offense, which led them to tie a franchise record in wins in the 2004–05 season. Two more top two Conference placements followed, but the Suns again failed to attain an NBA championship, were forced into another rebuild; the Suns own the NBA's seventh-best all-time winning percentage, have the second highest winning percentage of any teams to have never won an NBA championship. 10 Hall of Famers have played for Phoenix, while two Suns—Barkley and Nash—have won the NBA Most Valuable Player award while playing for the team. The Suns were one of two franchises to join the NBA at the start of the 1968–69 season, alongside the Milwaukee Bucks from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
They were the first major professional sports franchise in the Phoenix market and in the entire state of Arizona, remained the only one for the better part of 20 years until the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League relocated from St. Louis in 1988; the Suns played its first 24 seasons at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, located northwest of downtown Phoenix. The franchise was formed by an ownership group led by Karl Eller, owner of a public enterprise, the investor Donald Pitt, Don Diamond, Bhavik Darji, Marvin Meyer, Richard Bloch. Other owners with a minority stake consisted of entertainers, such as Andy Williams, Bobbie Gentry and Ed Ames. There were many critics, including then-NBA commissioner J. Walter Kennedy, who said that Phoenix was "too hot", "too small", "too far away" to be considered a successful NBA market; this was despite the fact that the Phoenix metropolitan area was growing and the Suns would have built-in geographical foes in places like in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle.
After continual prodding by Bloch, in 1968 the NBA Board of Governors granted franchises to Phoenix and Milwaukee on January 22, 1968 with an entry fee of $2 million. The Suns nickname was among 28,000 entries that were formally chosen in a name-the-team contest sponsored by The Arizona Republic, with the winner awarded $1,000 and season tickets for the inaugural season. Suns was preferred over Scorpions, Thunderbirds, Mavericks, Tumbleweeds and Cougars. Stan Fabe, who owned a commercial printing plant in Tucson, designed the team's first iconic logo for a mere $200. However, they were disappointed with the results. In the 1968 NBA Expansion Draft, notable Suns' pickups were future Hall of Famer Gail Goodrich and Dick Van Arsdale. Jerry Colangelo a player scout, came over from the Chicago Bulls, a franchise formed two years earlier, as the Suns' first general manager at the age of 28, along with Johnny "Red" Kerr as head coach. Unlike the first-year success that Colangelo and Kerr had in Chicago, in which the Bulls finished with a first-year expansion record of 33 wins and a playoff berth, Phoenix finished its first year at 16–66, finished 25 games out of the final playoff spot.
Both Goodrich and Van Arsdale were selected to the All-Star Game in their first season with the Suns. Goodrich returned to his former team, the Lakers, after two seasons with the Suns, but Van Arsdale spent the rest of his playing days as a Sun and a one-time head coach for Phoenix; the Suns' last-place finish that season led to a coin flip for the number-one overall pick for the 1969 NBA draft with the expansion-mate Bucks. Milwaukee won the flip, the rights to draft UCLA center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, while Phoenix settled on drafting center Neal Walk from Florida; the 1969–70 season posted better results for the Suns, finishing 39–43, but losing to the eventual Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. The next two seasons, the Suns finished with 48- and 49-win seasons, but did not qualify for the playoffs in either year, did not reach the playoffs again until 1976; the 1975–76 season proved to be a pivotal year for the Suns as they made several key moves, including the offseason trade of former All-Star guard Charlie Scott to the Boston Celtics in exchange for guard