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Phoenix Suns: What If... the 75th Anniversary Never Leaked?

Espo Avatar
September 22, 2021

Time. Space. Reality.

It’s more than a linear path. It’s a prism of endless possibility. Where a single choice can branch out into infinite realities, creating alternate worlds from the ones you know.

I am the Suns Watcher. I am your guide through these vast, new realities. Follow me, and ponder the question: What if?

The 2021-22 season marks the National Basketball Association’s 75th anniversary. With it will come a celebration of the game, its history and the players who paved the way for this generation. Fans will be inundated with millions of lists, highlight countdowns and debates about all that is the NBA.

Special NBA 75 classic matchups will take place throughout the season honoring historic teams and dates on the league calendar with the league unveiling a special diamond shaped logo to commemorate the occasion.

Even the City Edition uniforms will be getting a facelift around the league in honor of the anniversary. Teams will sport jerseys and shorts that are like a song from Pitch Perfect, a complete mashup of everything that was good, and in some cases bad, about their looks from over the last seven and a half decades. Well, 28 of the 30 teams will.
The Phoenix Suns and the Utah Jazz both opted out of the program in favor of City Edition The Valley and Dark Mode uniforms.

For Phoenix the reasoning seems to be two-fold.

First, the success of The Valley uniforms and alternate court during their surprise Finals run, combined with the scarcity of actual merchandise available throughout the season, made it a business no-brainer to run it back despite only being a one-year design.

However, the second potential reason is one that is even more interesting.

In December of 2020, as the Suns season was set to begin, photos surfaced online of what appeared to be a special jersey featuring a diamond NIKE swoosh and elements from previous Phoenix uniforms. It was the interweb’s first taste of what the league had in store for this season.

Unfortunately, this early concept jersey was about as well-received as Robert Horry stopping by a Phoenix sports bar. The leaked images, which appeared to be taken from inside an office, were panned almost universally.

Whether the concepts were shelved due to the fan outcry or because the Valley set was destined to make more money doesn’t matter. What matters is, in this universe, the Suns won’t be wearing a uniform celebrating their history in 2021-22.

But what if, in another timeline, the uniform never leaked?

The Suns’ rich color palette and unique designs in every era (excluding the Seven Seconds or Less years) provide a wealth of options to choose from to create one of the league’s most unique uniform mashups.

In this alternate universe, NIKE’s test look never saw the light of day, allowing the team and designers to work together to refine the uniform set. They were able to strategically assemble elements from decades of basketball in Phoenix and create something familiar but truly unique.

They took elements of the Sunderella Suns and Cotton Express teams with the western font. The Purple Gang from Phoenix was represented with the team’s iconic sunburst. The 1995 All-Star Game that brought the league’s biggest stars and the game’s most unique uniforms to life is represented in the star and cactus on the shorts. The Seven Seconds or Less team reluctantly makes an appearance with the oval around the front number. The Valley era is represented with the sunrise gradient behind the burst and the state is represented by the flag on the shorts.

The special edition city uniforms that never were in your universe, in this universe become the ultimate celebration of Suns basketball and one of the most celebrated looks in the series. Its popularity inspires a Coyotes-esque rebrand with the franchise embracing the past and combining it with the present, changing the uniform and identity of the team moving forward.

It’s a look that becomes synonymous with success on the court as the Suns win their first title behind Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson. An over 50-year drought in the desert comes to an end with a team doing something no other could while wearing a piece of each of them.

What a way to celebrate the league’s 75th anniversary.

As for me? These are my stories. I observe all that transpires here, but I do not, cannot, will not interfere. For I am…the Suns Watcher.

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