- Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) is a senior writer for ESPN Digital and Print.
The Phoenix Suns were on a flight back from an East Coast trip during the 2018-19 season when Kelly Oubre Jr. and Deandre Ayton, seatmates on the team plane, began talking about how much they were enjoying the Suns’ youthful energy.
Phoenix acquired Oubre in December 2018 from the Washington Wizards, with whom Oubre had been the resident young fashion plate among a somewhat veteran team in win-now mode. He clicked right away with the Suns’ younger stars.
“Being traded was such a transitional moment for me,” Oubre, 24, told ESPN this week. “I came to a place where I had a crowd of young guys. We meshed and vibed out. This group is so fun compared to other groups I’ve been with because of the youth and the energy.”
Sometime on that flight, Ayton and Oubre came up with a nickname for the team’s young core: Valley Boyz. Oubre has since trademarked the phrase and sold merchandise with the name at pop-up shops in the Phoenix area.
“It’s a lifestyle for us,” he said.
Oubre had no idea, but the Suns’ marketing staff was thrilled as the #ValleyBoyz hashtag picked up momentum in 2019.
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