Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

Final SlideNext Slide

Editor’s note: As portion of our new From the Vault series, this week we appear back at a time when the NBA Phoenix Suns played at the Indian Nicely Tennis Garden. Here’s a appear back at these 3 years when NBA greats roamed the desert.

Coachella Valley basketball fans have a tendency to root for either the Los Angeles Lakers or the Los Angeles Clippers, closest teams to the desert. But for 3 years in the late 2000s, the Coachella Valley was ruled by the Phoenix Suns.

The Suns had been at the heart of a 3-year run of outside NBA preseason exhibition games held at a exclusive venue, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, wherethe finest athletes in the globe had played due to the fact 2000. But these athletes had been the leading men’s and women’s tennis players. Beginning with a game on Oct. 11, 2008 between the Suns and the Denver Nuggets, the desert had a new — short-lived — tradition.

The games in the desert below the stars had been the brainchild of Dick Heckmann, a Rancho Mirage resident and a minority owner of the Suns. The Suns then convinced the NBA the idea would perform. In addition to the NBA game itself, the basketball celebration at the Tennis Garden incorporated neighborhood higher schools playing on the outside court and fan friendly interactive activities for households ahead of the game.

More than the 3-year span, the outside series brought such stars to the Coachella Valley as Shaquille O’Neal (then a member of the Suns), Steve Nash of Phoenix, Dirk Nowitski of Dallas, Dallas owner Mark Cuban and a young rookie for the Golden State Warriors named Steph Curry.

Suns vs. Nuggets, 2008

A crowd, estimated at 16,000, jammed into Stadium 1 at the Tennis Garden to watch the initial outside NBA game due to the fact 1972, as the Suns hosted Denver. Then-common manager of the Suns, Steve Kerr — now head coach of the Golden State Warriors —  knew that the Suns had been invading Los Angeles Lakers territory with the game.

“I was a Laker fan increasing up, but I was also a basketball fan,” Kerr stated. “If I had the chance as a kid to see two other NBA teams playing, I would have jumped at it. I never believe there will be any animosity or something.”

What no one particular could have anticipated was game-time temperatures in the mid-60s and powerful winds whistling via the Tennis Garden. Shaquille O’Neal of the Suns recommended the game was a fantastic notion, if it was played in June. 

The outcome was poor shooting and players complaining that it was tough to warm up when they went in the game. With just 3 three-pointers hit all evening combined by the teams, Denver grabbed a 77-72 win.

Invest in Photo

Suns center Shaquille O’Neal, ideal, tries to muscle the ball to the hoop via Denver’s Nenê through initial half action at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008. This was the initial outside NBA game played in the United States. (Photo: Jay Calderon, The Desert Sun)

Suns vs. Warriors, 2009

The Suns returned to Indian Wells to face the young Golden State Warriors.

Phoenix featured leading players like guard Steve Nash, but most of the focus that evening was on a rookie for the Warriors out of Davidson named Steph Curry. A leading shooting guard in college, there was concern that the six-foot-3 Curry would have problems finding his shot off cleanly in the NBA.

Right now, Curry is a 3-time NBA champion with the Warriors and a two-time NBA Most Beneficial Player. Curry led the Warriors to a 104-101 win in Indian Wells with 18 points, seven assists and seven rebounds. The performance impressed Nash, who was currently a two-time league MVP himself.

“He had a fantastic game,” Nash stated. “He’s a pretty fascinating prospect for our league.”

Golden State Warriors rookie Stephen Curry drives previous the Phoenix Suns’ Earl Clark in second half action of the Phoenix Suns game against the Warriors Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009, at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. (Photo: Wade Byars, Wade Byars)

Suns vs. Mavericks, 2010 and the finish of the era

The Suns faced another talented group, the Dallas Mavericks.

The Mavericks’ huge player was Dirk Nowitski, but the German star did not play in the game. Dallas owner Mark Cuban also attended the game.

For the initial time in the outside game, the “dwelling” group won, with Phoenix taking a 98-90 victory. Grant Hill was the Suns’ star that evening with 16 points.

The planned 2011 outside game was wiped out by a perform stoppage in the NBA that extended into December. Talks involving PM Sports, the management business for the Tennis Garden, and the Suns failed to revive the game in 2012.

There hasn’t been an NBA exhibition game in the desert due to the fact the Suns-Mavericks game in 2010 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. But with plans for a new 10,000-seat downtown arena in Palm Springs by 2021, fans have to issue the NBA preseason will come back to the desert then.

A 60’s celebration: From The Vault: Desert Trip rocked the desert in 2016