Sunbursts to El Valle: A look at Phoenix Suns jerseys over the years | Phoenix New Times


Sunbursts to El Valle: A look at Phoenix Suns jerseys over the years

From classic to flashy, and celebrating the Valley’s Mexican American culture, jerseys for the Phoenix Suns spark excitement.
Devin Booker models the El Valle City Edition jersey the Phoenix Suns are wearing 13 times during the 2023-24 NBA season.
Devin Booker models the El Valle City Edition jersey the Phoenix Suns are wearing 13 times during the 2023-24 NBA season. Courtesy Phoenix Suns
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Fashion styles come and go — and even come back again. And the Phoenix Suns game day attire from the late '60s to present day is no exception.

The Suns unveiled new uniforms ahead of the 2023-34 season. The flashy purple (road) and white (home) attire brings a modernized spin to the iconic sunburst uniform of the early ’90s along with elements of more recent years.

“The sunburst is an iconic design that is one of the most popular among Suns fans; it represents some of the most defining moments in our team’s history,” Suns CEO Josh Bartelstein said in a press release. “These new uniforms seamlessly blend the nostalgia of the past with the excitement of the future as we begin the next great era of Suns basketball.”

The two new jerseys for this season joined the all-black Statement uniform introduced last season and the new El Valley City Edition that was introduced in November. Designed by ASU art professor Miguel Godoy, the El Valle jersey celebrates the Valley’s Mexican American culture. It will be worn 13 times.

The new looks mark the latest game gear fashion update for a team known for some iconic, trendy uniforms that not only have stood the test of time but also have returned in some ways in later years. Let's journey back through the most prominent jerseys that have adorned the Suns since they entered the NBA in 1968.

The 1970s: groovy Suns

After just a handful of years in the NBA, once the '70s rolled around, the Suns were still working to ditch the shy new guy label as the franchise found its footing. That meant rather than sporting a jersey that looked like the visual rendition of a disco ball, they went with the streamlined text-only "Phoenix" attire that got the job done.

If there is one player who made those classic original jerseys memorable, it would be Connie Hawkins — one of the Sun's first bonafide stars.

As bland as the jerseys may have been, Hawkins made those '70s uniforms pop, averaging 24.6 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game in his first season in Phoenix. His solid play continued until injuries and an eventual departure to the Los Angeles Lakers ended his run for the Suns in 1973.

The 1980s: the electric sunrise

Michael Jackson was dropping hits, and extreme fashion was on the rise. The '80s had dawned, and with the world rocking to neon beats and flashy style, the Suns were on the trend like heat on the sun.

Bright orange and purple that could light up a room even when the lights were off? What a time to be alive. Staring at the Suns jerseys of the '80s was like a bolt of electricity, like when Tom Chambers threw down a nasty dunk.

The Suns '80s jerseys were designed to make his slams even more awesome.

The 1990s: back and bolder

Something about the Suns '90s jerseys sparks nostalgia, even from people who didn't necessarily root for the team. Featuring a sunburst logo with flames shooting out as if the players were meteorites streaking through the night sky, these beauties give big Charles Barkley playoff battle vibes.

The Suns '90s jerseys weren't just bold, they screamed attitude and intensity, just like Barkley did. The look is practically the team's most known identity to this day and a memory no basketball fans — even those who root for the Chicago Bulls or Los Angeles Lakers — will soon forget. Especially when watching highlights of the 1993 NBA Finals.

2000s: new millennium

Out with the '90s, and in the new. In 2001, the Suns embraced a sleek and modern aesthetic jersey design that can be summed up in two words: Steve Nash. Sure, Nash didn't join the Suns until 2005, but make no mistake — one look at the 2000-2013 jerseys immediately draws memories of the deep playoff runs those Nash-Amar'e Stoudamire teams made. Before Nash, these uniforms screamed Matrix, as in former Suns forward Shawn "The Matrix" Marion.

The jerseys were a simplification of the sunburst logo to simple "SUNS" text, which is quite ironic. Those Mike D'Antoni-led Suns teams were known for a fast-paced style of basketball that was unapologetically in your face.

The 2010s: retro revival

Ah, the sweet embrace of nostalgia. When it comes to NBA jerseys, sometimes it's best not to attempt to fix what's not broken.

In 2013, the Suns brought back the iconic orange, purple and white color scheme. But, more importantly, the team also returned the classic sunburst logo so many supporters grew up on. Fans were transported back to the days of Sir Charles grabbing rebounds and dunking on opponent heads. You really can't ask for much more than that.

The Adidas to Nike switch

The 2017 season brought a big change to the world of Suns fashion as Phoenix switched from Adidas to Nike. With it came another iconic look — one fans have become accustomed to until recently.

These jerseys are synonymous with Devin Booker dropping 50-burger games and the Suns revitalizing itself from a mediocre team searching for an identity into the powerhouse it is today.

2023: a new era

If you can't get excited about the Suns this season — and their new jerseys — check your pulse. The Suns did it with this one, bridging old vibes with new hope for a jersey that pops off the screen and heightens your senses like a freshly peeled orange to the nose. 

While Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and newcomer Bradley Beal bring excitement to the starting lineup, fans can expect many memories to be made in these uniforms. If all goes well, the team will end its first season on the main stage of the NBA Finals.
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