If You Look, Suns New Uniforms Honor Past
Change is like a trip to the dentist. Some people love it. Some hate it. But most eventually realize it's something that needs to happen.
When that change involves something as subjective as sports and fashion, you don’t know what will happen. Just take the Suns uniform unveil for instance. Opinions varied all over the map (and all over social media) and it makes sense.
There is a reason fan is short for fanatical. Being a sports fan requires being more passionate about your team than Oprah is about giving away cars to her audience. It’s a love affair that is usually formed when you’re young and continues well into adulthood. Sometimes it is even your first love (just ask my wife). That level of desire for something you have little to no control over can be both exhilarating and maddening.
In a time of transition, that passion can come out in many forms, especially in the spur of the moment. In our instant reaction society opinions, good, bad and indifferent, move at a pace that Coach Hornacek would be proud of. Everyday conversations have turned into mini versions of ESPN’s First Take where most want to be either Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith and very few want to play the moderator.
In this case, as one of those people proud to call himself a Suns fanatic, let me play that less than desired role.
Differing opinions are great and are what make having conversations with other fans fun. Your local sports bar would be nothing more than a dark building with guys drinking alone if it weren’t for the debates that come along with watching a game. It’s a language all its own and that can make complete strangers friends or rivals at the drop of a hat.
As Suns fans we share a very common bond. When we hear the phrase “Beat LA” we see images of numerous playoff series, both good and bad, featuring common enemies like Kareem, Magic and Kobe. We think about Paul Westphal’s guarantee and an unbelievable comeback after trailing 3-1. When the name John Paxson is said, a collective groan and cringe passes through those in earshot. If you see a hawk, you don’t think about the bird you think about Connie and you know that the Oklahoma Kid spells his first name with an a and not an i.
That common bond doesn’t mean we always see eye-to-eye, but it does mean we are in everything together. For me, I personally love the new uniforms that were unveiled Thursday night and let me explain why.
They not only recognize the past but modernize it for what looks to be an exciting new future. Taking the Suns history as a fast-paced team into account, one they are once again embracing on the court with the hiring of Hornacek, the team brought a “speed of light” take to the uniforms, adding sunrays to the front of the jerseys. Those “rays” along with the angled lettering, remind me of the 1990s jersey that helped me fall in love with the team as a kid.
The best part of the lines though are that they have a deeper meaning. The nine lines represent the nine players in the team’s Ring of Honor. So every time this new era of Suns takes the court in any city, Dick Van Arsdale, Connie Hawkins, Alvan Adams, Paul Westphal, Walter Davis, Tom Chambers, Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson and Dan Majerle will be with them, if only symbolically.
The shorts remind me of the original Suns too, but thankfully it’s not because of their length. If you look closely at the bottom of them, you’ll notice a “rising sun” that looks an awful lot like the traditional logo that was on the original team shorts from 1968-92. Another tip of the hat to the memories of Gar Heard’s “Shot heard round the world,” the Sunderlla Suns and the Cotton Express of the late 1980s.
Even the orange sleeved alternates, which will be worn on Friday home games starting in January, have a tip of the hat to past teams and players. These acknowledge the 2000s when the team first unveiled the only jersey in the NBA using that color. It honors the “Planet Orange” Suns who took the team on a magical ride. Even the material it is comprised of, which happens to be 60 percent recycled, can be viewed as a nod to the environmental conscious message that a certain No. 13 used to try to provide the fans with.
Change isn’t always easy. Especially when that change has yet to be seen in its intended purpose or connected to any memories. It’s like everytime a new James Bond is named. Fans long for the past until they see the new actor in action. Daniel Craig was scoffed at because he was the first blonde Bond, but now he is mentioned in the same breath as Sean Connery when movie fanatics discuss the subject. Even Suns fans once referred to the 1990s jersey as the “Lisa Simpson uniform” because of the sun burst resemblance to the cartoon characters head before it was fully embraced by fans around the league.
But as much as things change, the more they stay the same. The Suns’ new uniforms have a respect for the tradition we grew up with and an eye to the future. You just have to be willing to see it, which for some, can be easier said than done.