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Published on 19 Jan 2008
After making it to the finals in Charles Barkley's first year with the team in 1993, the Suns were one of the favorites to win the crown in the first post-Jordan year of 1994. They struggled through a somewhat difficult 56-26 season that placed them third in the West behind Seattle and Houston, and put them in a first-round matchup against the dangerous Golden State Warriors.
The first two games of the series were close Phoenix wins, but Game 3 was in Golden State, and the Suns remembered how they fell behind 0-2 against the Lakers the previous season before rallying for the win. In particular, Charles Barkley remembered this, and was determined to end the Warriors season as soon as possible.
Barkley came out with a vengeance, scoring 27 first-quarter points on his way to a 56-point outing, as the Suns won a wildly entertaining game to advance to the next round.
Despite the loss, Golden State was supposed to have a bright future, thanks to the return of Tim Hardaway, the continued maturation of youngsters Chris Webber and Latrell Sprewell, and the steady play of Chris Mullin. Instead, they went 26-56 the next year, traded Webber for Tom Gugliotta, and went 12 years without returning to the playoffs. In a way, Barkley doomed the Warriors to more than a decade of futility with this performance.