A Big Fish in a Purple and Orange Pond

by Jeramie McPeek
VP, Digital

You don't know Greg Fisher.

You wouldn't recognize him if he got on the elevator with you before a game at US Airways Center, or if you bumped into him at halftime in the Flex Print Club on level zero.

You do know his work, though, and so do thousands of other sports fans throughout the Valley, and millions around the world, for that matter.

He has never signed a free-agent or orchestrated a blockbuster trade. He has never drawn up a play in a huddle or taken a game-winning shot. Never hit a walk-off home run or thrown a 50-yard touchdown, either.

Although his name is nowhere to be found in the local teams' record books, the 56-year-old Phoenix resident has left his fingerprints on most of the city's sports franchises. You could even say that he is, in many ways, responsible for the identity of the Phoenix Suns today, and all of the other teams that call downtown Phoenix home, too.

“I’ve been around a long time, my man,” laughs Fisher, whose local creative agency developed the Suns' new brand, including the team's hardwood floor introduced last season, updated logos rolled out in June and the club's new-look uniforms that were unveiled during a fashion show earlier this month.

“It’s great to see the whole thing come to fruition. It was cool to see the new players wearing them. It seems like there is a real excitement about the team right now, and an excitement about what’s going on here in the Valley.”

Although Fisher is quick to share credit with Adidas, the NBA and Suns management on the collaborative process that resulted in the three new uniforms that were first revealed at Scottsdale Fashion Square, the humble and laid-back designer played point guard for the creative charge, just as he has for much of the past two decades.

A season-ticket holder since 1988 at the “Madhouse on McDowell,” Fisher originally connected with and began working for then-Suns owner Jerry Colangelo in the years leading up to the opening of the then-named America West Arena in 1992. Not only did he contribute ideas for the design of the state-of-the-art facility itself, but he was tasked with inventing the identity for several of its early tenants.

Fisher and his creative team designed the logos and uniforms for the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League, the now-defunct Arizona Sandsharks of the Continental Indoor Soccer League and Phoenix Smash of World Team Tennis, as well as the Phoenix Mercury when the WNBA tipped off in 1997.

His thick portfolio also includes the Arizona Diamondbacks' brand identities, both the inaugural look of 1998 and the current Sedona-red style, and the Phoenix Coyotes' original uniforms upon relocating to the Valley in ‘96.

One of Fisher’s first projects for the Suns resulted in a new twist (and tilt) on the team’s classic streaking ball logo, which was rolled out in 1992 for the 25th anniversary of the franchise.

While he did not play a role in the unique sunburst uniforms that accompanied the new logo that season, he did contribute to the iconic look of the era by designing the black alternate version that complemented the Suns' wardrobe from 1994-2000.

The 6-4, lanky designer, who ran track at Kansas, would have a hand in fashioning every Suns uniform from that point on.

Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Penny Hardaway and Tom Gugliotta helped unveil the team's third set of uniforms, which Fisher designed, during a runway show on the team's practice court in 2000. The look of the white home and purple road uniforms, which integrated gray into the team's color palette for the first time, were worn up until this past Suns season. Although the original, reflective material, or "dazzle" as it was technically called, was replaced by a more traditional fabric after a couple of NBA campaigns.

“It was the hot thing at the time,” he says of the league trend. “It was real shiny, everybody’s were. Real shiny! They were disgusting (laughs). They only made it two or three years.”

After creating the Suns' first black uniform a decade earlier, Fisher was assigned by then-Suns President Bryan Colangelo to design the team's first-ever orange uniform in 2003. Despite conspiracy theories in recent years that the Suns' new ownership group wanted to shift the team's colors away from purple, it was actually the younger Colangelo who initially pushed for a new focus on orange, a unique color in the NBA.