I love NBA uniforms. The creativity — or lack thereof — is always an interesting topic of discussion and/or debate. Their ability to reflect the city they represent, coupled with the fashion-forward mindset of the NBAPA, can create some unique combinations. Many of us may remember when the Phoenix Suns donned the grey-sleeved unis back in 2015. Yuck.
While baseball and football tend to focus on heritage, legacy, and tradition relative to their uniform designs, the NBA has always done a fantastic job of keeping it fresh, stylistic, and engaging.
Simply look at what the Suns did last season.
The team released their City Edition uniforms which paid tribute to the Greater Phoenix Area with “The Valley” scripted across the front. For the first time in decades the team had a unique identity that meshed with the fanbase. The pixelated shadow of Camelback Mountain behind an Arizona sunset? Genius.
The uniforms were well designed and easy to market to a hungry fanbase. Couple that with the success of the team, and you have one of the more memorable uniform sets in Suns’ franchise history.
The Suns ended the 2020-21 season with the 3rd most popular team merchandise in the league and Devin Booker finished 6th in jersey sales. Just imagine where the team would have ended up if they could keep the merch in stock.
Below is the top selling player and team merchandise in the second half of 2020-21 season, per NBA and NBPA. Nets are No. 2 in team merchandise; Knicks are No. 6: pic.twitter.com/3nfIbjN3Xj— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) July 14, 2021
As the NBA enters it’s 75th year of existence, expect plenty of tributes to the history of the league this upcoming season. Highlights and memorable moments from the past, former players returning and departed coaches celebrated for their contributions to the game; it will be a fun year filled with recollection, remembrance, and respect.
The league is looking to utilize uniforms as a way to tip their cap to the past as well.
The internet has been buzzing as to what these uniforms will look like for the 2021-22 season. Will they be “mash up” uniforms, combing multiple aspects of previous iterations of designs together in an effort to create something that pays tribute to each teams past? Will they be “origins” uniforms, modifying original team threads in a modern way? Am I the only one who cares?
There have been plenty of leaked designs over the past few months as fans attempt to predict what the new garb will look like. You might have seen these for the Suns:
I see what they did there. The Wild West “Phoenix” font. The Barkley-era number font. The circle behind the number from the 7SOL era. The fading side stripes, a nod to the current Suns team. Mashed up like Yukon Gold potatoes on Thanksgiving Day.
Personally, not a fan of these jerseys. And I hope that if the NBA doesn’t go down the mash up rabbit hole. It’s one of those “you’re going to outsmart yourself” opportunities for designers and the opportunity to do too much exists. As a graphic design teacher once told me: KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupid.
All of the speculation appears to be a moot point, however, as @nbaunitracker (a fun follow on the Twitter) informed the masses that the Phoenix Suns and the Utah Jazz would not be participating in the 75th Anniversary uniform celebration.
Phoenix and Utah will opt out of the 75th Anniversary mashup uniforms and retain their City Edition sets from this past season. pic.twitter.com/FsD72iR0dG— NBA Uniform Tracker™ (@nbaunitracker) July 30, 2021
Alas, we will not have to worry about the over-designing of a uniform set for this season. Phoenix will stick with the Valley uniforms that were so successful this past year. Hey, you might finally be able to purchase a Devin Booker jersey in your size!
It does disappoint that, now that the Suns have finally made the playoffs, there will be no “Earned” edition for this upcoming season. Hopefully the powers that be change their mind on that decision.
There you have it! The Valley continues into the next season. What will be the new tagline be? The Suns used both #WeAreTheValley and #RallyTheValley last season. Is next season the last season of the Valley uniforms, thus making it the #ValleyFinale?