Growing up we always watched the Phoenix Suns, especially in the early 90s when it was Barkley, KJ, and Majerle. I remember sitting around our small 19 inch tv (remember it had vice grips and foil antenna) on our dark living room carpet trying to get a glimpse of greatness running the hard wood floors. I always had a dream of going to a Suns game. Although, we didn’t have much money back then, like most families below the poverty line. I would have gladly settled for a Suns shirt, but we couldn’t afford that either. So, I had to get creative.
I spent a lot of time around the college where my parents worked. My Mom taught elementary education courses, and my Dad was an administrator for a long time. I loved that I grew up on that campus, (you ask how could we be poor, well it was a small underfunded Christian college for Natives relying on the hearts of donors and God’s grace). My Mom often bought various art supplies and things for the undergrads to use when they student taught at elementary schools. Sometimes she had left over supplies that weren’t used. And I got first dibs. Using the Elmer’s glue, safety scissors, rubber bands, popsicle sticks, and red solo cups left over from the college events I made a variety of toys. I created catapults, little bows and arrows, a trash can (don’t know why), but I made whatever I could think up. Well one day I was in my Mom’s office and I found green and blue t-shirt paint. I asked my Mom, “Can I have this.” She said, “sure.” I was excited, I knew exactly what I was gonna make.
I got home and found my cleanest White undershirt. I laid it out on the floor and got to work. First, I drew a circle, then I drew lines coming behind it. “Perfect.” Then I drew the basketball in the circle. I drew the fire around the ball, and then I finished it off with the flames coming behind the ball. Below it, I wrote “SUNS.” It was my first Suns shirt. Green and Blue paint on a white undershirt. I was so proud and loved that shirt so much that I wore it for the next few days. I was even more excited because my cousins were coming to visit and I couldn’t wait to show off my new shirt.
Almost as soon as I went outside to greet my cousins they saw my shirt and started teasing me. I didn’t understand why, and I felt bad. I mean, it was my Suns shirt, the one I could afford. I was reppin’ my team the best I could. I love Barkley, KJ, Majerle. The pride I had swiftly left my soul, and I couldn’t feel anything but sad. I still wore that shirt, but not in public. Just at home watching games on our old tv. I made a promise to myself that one day, I wouldn’t just have a Suns shirt, but a Suns jersey so no one could make me feel sad about representing my team… except maybe the past 7 seasons of no playoff appearances. But I also realized that if I didn’t want to be teased the rest of my life, I was going to have to work for it.