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SI’s NBA jersey ranking: Where does Phoenix’s sunburst uniform land?

Phoenix Suns players Charles Barkley, left, Kevin Johnson, and Danny Ainge are all smiles as they confer late in the triple-overtime period of their 129-121 win over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, June 13, 1993 in Chicago. Also in on the celebration are Tom Chambers, rear left, and Dan Majerle. The Bulls lead the best-of seven series 2-1. (AP Photo/Mark Elias)

Sports Illustrated’s The Crossover took on the important task of ranking the 30 best jerseys in NBA history.

Not surprisingly, the 1990s-era Phoenix Suns’ “starburst” jersey made the cut.

With an adorning picture of Charles Barkley in the black version with white lettering, SI ranked the iconic look with the sun streaking across the front as the No. 14 jersey of all time.

“At a time when their marquee star was bold and audacious, the Suns had the jerseys to match,” the site said.

SI used criteria including aesthetic, creativity and nostalgia to decide. The way these Phoenix jerseys stood out helped them fit the mold.

“The Suns picked a purple and orange silhouette that loosely matched the Arizona state colors (maroon and gold) and added a blazing sun that offered a nod to the city’s climate with a basketball that fit cleanly into the pattern,” SI wrote.

Much of the site’s rankings had to do with success the team had while competing in the threads. These jerseys were worn during perhaps the greatest era of Suns play, as they made the finals in the first season of the jersey’s use and went 394-230 overall from 1992-2000.

It coincided directly with Sir Charles’ time on the Suns.

“Barkley … joined the Suns in the season when this design was introduced, pairing an amazing silhouette with some of the best sneakers Nike has ever produced,” SI wrote. “No combination outside of Chicago looked better than the purple or black Suns jerseys with the CB 94 ‘Pure Purple’ sneakers.”

The 1993 finals run pitted the Suns against other top jerseys.

(AP Photo/Gary Stewart)

First, the Suns defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, whose golden 1978-99 jerseys topped SI’s list.

Then, Phoenix took down the San Antonio Spurs, whose familiar jersey that hasn’t changed since 1989 sat at No. 15.

Seattle and its No. 11 jerseys (“the well-dressed SuperSonics,” SI described) couldn’t knock Phoenix off in the conference finals.

In the NBA Finals, the Suns faced the Chicago Bulls, which SI called an “all-jersey matchup” between the No. 2 and No. 14 uniforms.

But, just like that era of Suns basketball, all good things must come to an end.

“After an impeccable run of decisions, the Suns had to commit a major sin and move away from this design,” SI wrote. “Predictably, nothing has eclipsed it since.”

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