The Phoenix Suns absolutely crushed the 2020-21 NBA Season, both on the court and in the team store. The unlikely NBA Finals appearance from a team led by Chris Paul and Devin Booker was a feel-good story, even if it ended in a loss to the powerful Milwaukee Bucks. Even better fortune for the Suns was the absolutely smashing success of the team’s City Edition jersey.
The pixelated celebration of the Arizona sunrise/sunset, as well as the homage to Camelback Mountain, create the perfect jersey for the team from the Southwest. It’s a look that feels classic, yet fresh. It’s the Jordan 1 Retro of NBA Jerseys. It’s a slam dunk if you’ll pardon the pun.
So how does the team top this in 2021-22? Well, there’s already a bit of controversy surrounding their latest uniform designs.
The Suns released a concept for an Aztec-inspired look, that some fans are sending to the bench. According to ESPN, the uniform boasts “the Aztec Sun Stone on the front of the jerseys, the Aztec Death Stone on the back, and jaguar armor on the pants leg.”
Complaints about the uniforms include “whether the Aztecs were ever in Arizona to begin with.” In response, the Suns responded that “Some sources trace the origins of Aztlan, the ancestral home of the Aztec people, to modern-day Arizona before migrating south. While research is ongoing, we wanted to create an open dialogue with our fans surrounding this uniform concept.”
Phoenix then went on to add that they have worked with “representatives from the Mexican government on the uniform design. The Suns also worked with the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center.” That’s a fantastic step forward, and it’s equally fantastic that they didn’t need to be asked to do so.
According to ESPN, “another complaint wanted the Suns to focus on communities that were indigenous to Arizona. The Suns responded by announcing they will be releasing a uniform to honor the tribal nations of Arizona for the 2022-23 season.” Another fantastic move.
So what two things do we need to talk about?
First off, these uniforms are… fine. The idea is cool and the design is solid, but the color is far too dark. It’s a step in the right direction, but this feels very much like a work in progress. That’s the first thing.
Secondly, I need every team to do this moving forward.
Crowdsourcing your uniforms with the fan that are going to buy them is a home run. And if there’s an executive reading this right now, let me know where to send my direct deposit information. Seriously, this is a smart move. Who else is going to buy another $100+ jersey every year of a team that was just recently under .500 and was eliminated from the playoffs before they began in 2020? THE FANS.
Nike has had hit-or-miss success with their City Connect uniforms in baseball, but that’s not a good thing. The city-to-city variance makes the entire thing a bit of a nail-biter. As a fan, I don’t want to be surprised by a jersey I may hate. No, I want to be a part of the process. I want to help sculpt the thing I’m going to spend money on.
I cannot stress how fantastic of an idea this is. The Mets already pressured their owner into bringing back their black home jerseys and they’re a smashing success. Let the fans have a voice in what they want to see on the court. This is an absolute no-brainer.
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