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Arizona sports legend Gonzo on similarities between Diamondbacks' 2001 series and Suns

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Posted at 4:48 PM, Jul 19, 2021

PHOENIX — As we get ready for Game 6 of the NBA Finals, Suns fans are feeling an array of emotions, including excitement, frustration and nervousness.

It's something Valley fans felt 20 years ago when the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in the 2001 World Series after being down 3-2 in the series.

The 2001 World Series was the first American professional sports championship played since the September 11 terrorist attacks. Patriotism was running high, especially with a New York team involved.

"Around the country, there was a sentimental favor because of what had happened on 9/11, so it was a really strange thing to be the time playing the Yankees and yet being not only the underdog but the team no one was really rooting for in the series," said Dave Burns, the co-host of the Burns and Gambo Show on 98.7 FM Arizona Sports.

Burns was covering the Diamondbacks for KTAR at the time and said the D-backs established themselves as the better team, winning the first two games at home. They'd lose the next three in New York, going from being up 2-0 to down 3-2 in the series.

It's the same spot the Phoenix Suns are in 20 years later.

"There are definitely some are similarities between the two, and certainly, emotionally there are similarities between how exhilarating this all is and how nauseating this all is," said Burns.

Former D-backs player Luis Gonzalez --known as Gonzo --was on that 2001 team and knows what the Suns' players are going through.

"Just the anxiety level, as time goes on, it seems like the clock is standing still and you just want to get it going and get it over with," said Gonzalez. "These guys have [to] go out there and do anything they can to try to win this game. It's going to be a tough task, they're playing on the road against a hostile environment. Right now, they have to lean on each other, they're their own family out there."

The D-backs won the last two games at home. Gonzo had the world championship-winning hit in the bottom of the 9th of Game 7.

"It's unbelievable. The whole city, the state rallied around our team. Just as I'm seeing now--I've been able to go to the games to see the Suns play in the playoffs, and now I'm getting a different perspective as a fan getting to see how everybody is, I'd really love to see them pull this thing out."

"What happened in those final two games was unlike anything I've ever been a part of in my life. It was so completely special," said Burns.

It's a comeback the Suns hope to replicate this week.

"It's crazy to think it's been 20 years now. People still talk about it, so that means this town is very hungry for another championship. So we're hoping the Suns can come around and pull this out," said Gonzalez.

Burns points out there are some differences between the 2001 Diamondbacks and the Suns in this series.

"These are two very evenly matched basketball teams. They're playing a very good close tough series with each other. Whereas in 2001, I think anybody who knows baseball was watching that series you knew the D-backs was the better team, they were just suffering from some really bad breaks at the end of a couple of those games in New York," he said.

The Diamondbacks were in its fourth season, whereas Suns fans have been going through ups and downs for decades.

"The window for this team is now, there's no reason to think they won't be good the next few years, but you just never know when you'll make it back to a stage like this and a moment like this," said Burns.