The Phoenix Suns have kicked off their 50th season in style.
With all of the excitement surrounding new Suns stars Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, Tyler Ulis, and others as they line the runway at Talking Stick Resort Arena ready take off and lead the franchise into the future, what better a location to set this golden anniversary season into motion than the Southwest Airlines hanger in Sky Harbor Airport.
In many ways like an event for the debut of an anticipated movie release, the Suns rolled out the purple carpet for such fan favorites as Jerry Colangelo, Amar’e Stoudemire, Walter Davis, Larry Nance, Paul Westphal, and many more. With the official DJ and his killer band keeping the tempo of the evening as heart-poundingly quick as a Mike D’Antoni offense, the massive hanger was full of excited Suns fans each doing their part to ring in the new year with the franchise and it’s players, both past and present.
But the excitement of the evening was driven by more than just the sights, sounds, and yes, great food, it was led by the anticipation for the release of the new Classic uniform that the Suns will wear several times this season – the traditional PHOENIX throwback originally worn by the franchise from 1968-73.
Carefully hidden behind a mannequin-covered curtain and heavily protected by a bodyguard, the uniform was unveiled following several speakers including two Southwest Airlines executives (the airline is of course a corporate sponsor of the Suns and host of the event), multiple interviews by Hall of Famer Al McCoy of Suns owner Robert Sarver, former owner Jerry Colangelo, legend Amar’e Stoudemire, Grand Canyon University Head Coach Dan Majerle, former star and head coach Paul Westphal, leapin’ Larry Nance, and more.
The festivities were preceded by a wonderful video presentation, narrated by Arizona Senator John McCain, of highlights from the franchise’s illustrious 49 years-to-date, a montage that is sure to make the hair on every life-long Suns fan’s necks stand. The players and staff, both young and old, were then introduced via the front exits of one of Southwest Airlines new fleet of 737’s (occupying a large portion of the hanger with the party-goers), upon introduction by McCoy, and accompanied by a great whoosh of smoke.
The anticipated Classic uniform, exactly what fans may have seen already in the Tyler Ulis Instagram photo, was finally unveiled and worn by Devin Booker who modeled the sleek home white with orange font and numbers, tied together by the classic and iconic fireballs on the sides of the shorts. By my recollection, last worn by the Suns for throwback nights in the early 2000’s, the return of this particular uni is sure to bring backs fond memories of the first 24 seasons in Suns history, as fans look forward to the next era.
This Classic uniform will be worn on Opening Night to start the Suns’ 50th season on October 18, then on each of the five Decades Nights throughout the year, November 10, December 9, January 12, March 2, and April 6. No specific mention about whether or not the Suns would wear the uniform on January 22 in Milwaukee, the actual birth date of both franchise’s (although it would seem unlikely as the Bucks’ Classic edition is also white).
The #SUNSat50 kickoff event was a great way to start the year, and a wonderful thanks to Suns Charities 88 for putting it on. Phoenix Suns Charities does a wonderful job of helping the community at large and is worthy of recognition at every opportunity. The Phoenix Suns have been a part of the valley’s landscape now for 50 years, longer than most fans have been alive, and to leave such a positive imprint on the community the way they do is worthy of equal celebration.