The 2021 NBA Finals did not feature the teams many expected to see at the start of the season. Instead, the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns shocked the basketball world by becoming the last remaining teams in contention for the title.
Regarding the latter, they were just two wins away from making history and taking home the trophy, starting 2-0 before ultimately losing the next four games in a row.
By the end, all that was left was a disappointed Suns team, crushed to have come so far only to have failed when it mattered most.
But now, Suns coach Monty Williams threw a new spin on the Finals loss. In a conversation with the media, he revealed that many of his top players (including Devin Booker and Chriss Paul) shouldn't have even been playing for some of those last games.
He's reveled in the big moments, appreciated his players' toughness, but couldn't shake the guilt from not getting it done.
"I guess when you get older, you hurt, but you hurt for your players because you know everything that they gave to your program to give you a chance to be in that position," Williams said. "And we had so many guys that were dealing with injuries and watching them give it up every night, people had no clue.
"Chris [Paul] shouldn't have played. Devin [Booker] probably shouldn't have played in Game 3. Jae [Crowder] probably shouldn't have played in Game 3. ... So, just such a raw time."
Williams was simply trying to illustrate the level of sacrifice his guys demonstrated in their attempt to win the title. With the Championship in reach, they put their bodies on the line to ensure their team had the best chance of winning.
Unfortunately, they couldn't get the job done in 2021. But, perhaps, things will change this year. With the team at 29-8 so far, they are tied for the best record in the NBA.
At the very least, you can bet they'll be ready for whatever comes next.