Jerry West and the History of the Creation of the NBA Logo

Since the founding of the League, the NBA (and the BAA before it) has always had a logo to represent it. If several formats have existed, one has persisted since the end of the 1960s until today. A look back at the creation of the latest NBA logo, the one that looks a lot like a certain… Jerry West.

What is on a parquet floor, a basketball, a basket and a jersey at the same time? Easy, the NBA logo. Ultimate representation of the League, the logo is the tool that allows the NBA to be recognized. This logo, we see it everywhere so but we don’t pay too much attention to it anymore, as our eyes are obsessed with the actions and the brilliance of the players. However, this blue white and red logo was not created by chance and it does not come out of nowhere.

To return to its creation, you have to take the time machine and scroll through a few decades. So here we are in 1969. The Celtics already have a gaggle of banners on the ceiling, Michael Jordan is just a 6-year-old kid that nobody knows and the famous League that we follow every night is only in its infancy. foundations. If today the NBA seems all powerful, at that time it could not compete with other major US sports such as American football and baseball. In fact, it even faces competition in its own specialty from the ABA, a rival basketball league.

1969: the NBA in search of a new logo

In order to change the League’s image, the then NBA commissioner, Walter Kennedy, decided that the NBA logo needed a makeover. From the BAA period until the end of the 1960s, several logos have already been used by the League. As we can see below, the design is quite different from what we can know today.

As the @NBA celebrates its 75th anniversary this season, look back at the evolution of the league logo.

— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) October 18, 2021

1969 must therefore mark the year of change for the NBA and Kennedy calls on Alan Siegel to design the new logo of the League. Who is Alan Siegel? Founder of the company Siegel and Gale, the designer already has a small CV behind him in the sports world at the end of the 60’s. The previous year, he oversaw the creation of the Major League Baseball logo (below), designed by Jerry Dior.

Walter Kennedy was hooked when he saw this new look logo for major league baseball, so he wants the NBA to have something similar. In 2021, at the time of the 75th anniversary of the League, Alan Siegel had explained to Shaun Powell, journalist for the NBAthe instructions he had received to create this new logo.

“Commissioner Kennedy wanted a logo that was related to Major League Baseball, because the NBA was having a hard time building a reputation at the time and wanted to restore its image.”

Obligation therefore to use blue, white and red, the American colors, to attract the public and it was also necessary to find a player who would act as a silhouette. In search of the right player for the job, Siegel asks one of his acquaintances, the photographer Wen Roberts who works for Sport Magazine, to consult some of his photos. He then falls on Jerry West immortalized dribbling and the image pleases him. The icing on the cake, the Lakers guard is a League superstar, his record ticks all the boxes. Siegel has his model and the NBA its logo.

Logo NBA 1969-2016

The story could end there but that would be to forget that this new logo was not unanimous. One of the people who particularly had a hard time coming to terms with it…was Jerry West himself.

Jerry West, a complicated relationship with the Logo

If the history between the legend of the Lakers and the logo is so complicated, it is explained by several factors. First, there is the image that it sends back to the player. Like many NBA stars, Jerry West has his nickname. What a surprise: “The Logo”. A name that never pleased the man, who did not want people to remember him for the resemblance to a drawing but rather for his past accomplishments.

While West always explains that he’s honored in some way, he doesn’t like being the logo, and in 2017 he bluntly explained on the show. The Jump that he would like the League to change the present silhouette.

“First of all, I wish this logo had never been disclosed. No, I really want it. I said it more than once. It’s flattering that it’s me, and I know it’s me, and that’s flattering. For me, I played back when they started marketing the league, there were five people they were going to consider. I only learned about it when the late Commissioner Walter Kennedy told me about it and the New York Times ran a great story about it.”

“Again, that’s flattering, but if I was the NBA, I’d be embarrassed. I don’t like doing anything that draws attention to myself, and when people call me The Logo, that’s just not who I am, period. If they want to change it, I wish they would. In many ways, that’s what I want.”

For many players, being the logo would be an honor, but West doesn’t like the highlighting and you can tell from his words that he has a grudge against the NBA for using his image all these years. The current Clippers leader even says the League should be “embarrassed”. Why this annoyance?

This brings us to our second. The NBA’s right to use West’s image. Fun fact that is not necessarily known to the general public: no one asked Jerry West for his authorization when using the logo. Alan Siegel chose a photo for his design, the NBA validated it and it was in the box.

Yet the League, through its successive commissioners, has always denied outright that the logo represented Jerry West. Everyone knew it, Alan Siegel (the creator therefore) even said it publicly several times but the NBA has remained silent. This silence has a reason, or rather it has a cost. To use someone’s image is to pay them money, royalties and the League brews billions every year. To say that West is the logo is to offer him a hell of a lot. This is why leaders prefer to keep a low profile.

As he confirmed to Graham Besinger in 2017, Jerry West has therefore never received a single penny for this logo, which is however his representation dribbling! Incredible but true. The craziest thing is that in the same 2021 article where the NBA interviews Alan Siegel, West’s name is mentioned almost everywhere. This is the worst kept secret in the world.

Also in 2017, the logo received a little facelift with a change in typography but also different shades of red and blue and obviously still Jerry West on it. (it had also undergone some modifications for the 75th anniversary of the League)

In 2020, however, we wondered if the Purple and Gold legend was not (finally) going to pass the torch. The drama of the death of Kobe Bryant, another star of the Lakers, had prompted some players, past or present, to propose a change of the logo with the silhouette of the Black Mamba. A way to honor the former number 24. The League finally opted for another tribute with the All-Star Game MVP trophy, leaving its crest intact. As since 1969, Jerry West is therefore always dribbling, always left hand, right arm in protection to avoid the return of the defender. A logo and a symbol that put stars in the eyes of fans around the world. Probably a little less in those of Jerry West.

Source texte : The Jump / In Depth with Graham / NBA / LA Times

2023-05-28 10:26:08
#Jerry #West #History #Creation #NBA #Logo


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