For the first time in almost 30 years, the Phoenix Suns are in the NBA Finals. And with the team up 2-1 in the series against the Milwaukee Bucks, Suns fans could conceivably be celebrating their first-ever championship as soon as Saturday. So, to ensure the future champs celebrate the right way, we've put together a playlist. This collection of R&B jams, experimental noise-punk, '80s soft-rock ballads, and hip-hop anthems was carefully curated to maximize the sentiments for this squad's franchise-defining achievement. Go Suns!
CeCe Peniston, 'Finally'Is this 1991 dance-R&B anthem a little too on the nose? Sure — it’s been the go-to song for grand awakenings and long-awaited happenings since its release. But there’s something powerful about this track, and the cathartic release of past worries and doubt is unmatched in the realm of pop music. So it’s only fitting that it becomes a central part of the Suns’ campaign in the NBA Finals, a jam for kicking away the struggles of yesteryear and celebrating a triumphant new future. Even if this weren’t a bit of hometown synergy — Peniston moved to the Valley as a teen — this extra bright pop gem aligns with Phoenix's recent celebratory vibes.
Smino, 'Rice & Gravy'Not even his extra-long name has kept Giannis Antetokounmpo from becoming a favorite among rappers. The Milwaukee Bucks’ star forward appears in a slew of popular songs, including those from Nicki Minaj, DaBaby, and Reason. So, it seems only right to include a song from another Antetokounmpo-referencing rapper, St. Louis's own Smino, for a little playful poking. But including "Rice & Gravy" isn’t just a delightfully petty move; it’s a profound track about clinging to one’s roots while tackling your dreams and growing an empire. It’s a nice image for the Suns to perpetuate, with the local boys doing good for their hometown without comprising those pillars of hard work and dedication. That, and their perpetually fresh uniforms, of course.
Hans Olson, 'Phoenix Boogie'We get that blues rock may not be the most obvious, or even best-suited fit, for major league basketball. But Hans Olson is a special case, and since he moved here in the early 1970s, he’s made the Valley a destination for truly earnest and soulful music. As such, he expertly portrays a sense of commitment, passion, and grit that fits nicely with the image of the Suns. Still, it's a mostly silly tune, bordering on the overtly cheesy, a reminder that for as far as we’ve come together, Phoenix is still a little weird and wild. It’s this combined, slightly uneven image that actually defines our city, and by extension, informs what makes the Suns such a truly unique club.
RiFF RAFF, 'Chris Paul'
The Bucks may rely on the aforementioned Antetokounmpo, but the Suns have Chris Paul. The celebrated point guard has been pivotal to this team’s rise to the finals (not to mention we’re his first shot at finally playing for a championship team). Paul may not have the sheer number of songs about and/or referencing his prowess, but he does have this unsung gem from RiFF RAFF. Aside from lyrics about "neon python suplex" and references to Wilt Chamberlain and jump shots, the song's chorus is the irritatingly catchy "I can hit the mall and ball like Chris Paul." Will this tune ever win a Grammy? No way. But does it make for the kind of crowd-stirring anthem that all championship teams and players deserve? For sure.