Professional sports are about competition, training, representing one’s team or country, as well as a desire to win. It is also about achievements, both individually and as a team. We see the joy of victory and the agony of defeat. In 1993 the Phoenix Suns and Montreal Canadiens made the championship game of the respective leagues, with the latter winning. This year, those two same teams reached the final with both looking for championship glory.

Coached by Jacques Demers, the 1992-1993 Montreal Canadiens earned an impressive 103 points during that year’s NHL regular season, with Patrick Roy in net. In the 1993 NHL playoffs, the Canadiens defeated the Quebec Nordiques in six games, swept the Buffalo Sabres and upended the New York Islanders in five games to reach the Stanley Cup. In the final series Montreal defeated the Wayne Gretzky led Los Angeles Kings in five games to win the franchise’s 24th Cup. What a great achievement for Montreal – and for Canada. However, it was also the last time they made it to the final…until this season.

Like their previous Championship team, this Canadiens squad was not given much of a chance. Players dealt with injuries, compounded with their head coach, Dominic Ducharme, contracting Covid. Dejectedly, he sat out from the games and went into quarantine to protect his players and coaching staff. With the great play of Carey Price, and the determination of the rest of the team including Corey Perry, Cole Caufield and Brenden Gallagher, the Canadiens came back from a 3-1 series deficit against the Toronto Maple Leafs, took four straight victories against the Winnipeg Jets and defeated the heavily favored Vegas Golden Knights in six games. The city of Montreal was on a high. Unfortunately, Montreal was unsuccessful in the Cup final as they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games. But the team should be proud of their season.

1993 was also the last time the Phoenix Suns made the NBA finals. Led by rookie head coach, Paul Westphal, with legendary players like Charles Barkley, Dan Majerle and former Boston Celtic executive, Danny Ainge, the Suns won 62 of their 82 games that season. In the playoffs that year, they defeated the Lakers in five games, the San Antonio Spurs in six games and the Seattle Supersonics in seven games to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals, where the Suns faced the defending champion, Chicago Bulls. The challengers gave Michael Jordan and his team a fight, but lost in six games.

This year’s Suns team finished a surprising second in the Western Conference. Their success began last season in the NBA Bubble in Orlando where they failed to make the playoffs, but finished the regular season 8-0. They also added Chris Paul in the offseason. But no one would have believed they would have been this good this quickly. In this season’s playoffs, they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in six games, swept the Denver Nuggets and upended the L.A. Clippers in six. The Suns eliminated the likes of Lebron James, the MVP of the league, Nicola Jokic and Kawhi Leonard to reach where they are now – the NBA finals competing against the Milwaukee Bucks. And, yes, injuries to Lebron, Kawhi and others played a role, but to accomplish what the Suns have so far is extremely impressive. I hope the Suns emerge with the title. After all his years in the league, I think Chris Paul has more than earned an NBA title. And if Devin Booker, Jae Crowder, and DeAndre Ayton continue to play great basketball, I am sure they will accomplish their end goal.

Between 1990 and 1993, the Buffalo Bills participated in four straight SuperBowl games. Led by various players over those years like Jim Kelly, Andre Reed, Thurman Thomas, and Frank Reich, they consistently produced strong offensive numbers and their defenses displayed characteristics that were powerful and fearless. They performed the same way when they reached the big game for those years, but they lost a heartbreaker to the New York Giants in their first shot at the title. In the following year, they lost to Washington and then suffered back-to-back losses to the Dallas Cowboys. They have not returned to the Superbowl since. With a talented team both offensively and defensively, they can reach the NFL’s season finale at some point. The problem is they have to be able to defeat Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs. With determination, and a desire to win, I believe they can eventually achieve that goal.

All teams want to excel and reach the pinnacle of their sport. It takes hard work, good management and a great morale. Players must be happy to get to work and play their sport. If they stay focused and keep their eyes on their goals, and drafts go their way, I am sure their respective teams will achieve success.

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