Even if you don’t follow basketball, you know the Los Angeles Lakers. One of the most decorated teams in the NBA, they are always competitive even if they don’t take home a trophy. Frequently home to big stars and even bigger games, the team’s been defined by a single logo for decades. In looking at how the Lakers logo has – hasn’t – evolved, one can see how big a part of the team’s identity it has become.
Lakers Logo Design Elements
It’s hard to overstate both how simple and effective the Lakers logo is. Compared to most sports logos, it’s almost laughably basic – a basketball, the name of the city, and the name of the state. This is a design that has been in place literally as long as the team has been in Los Angeles, with little call for an update or a re-design. The simplicity of the shape itself is largely why the change has been so slow to come, though – after all, the basketball logo is a classic.
By this point, the colors are as much a part of the team’s identity as the basketball logo. Purple and yellow are absolutely Lakers’ colors and you’ll see them on fans of the team around the world. Even the font is unchanging, allowing fans of the team to wear virtually any jersey ever made by the team without looking out of place. If there’s such a thing as the perfect basketball logo, there’s a good chance that it’s worn by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Changes and Evolution
There has only been one major change in shape during the entire existence of the Lakers team, and it came before the team moved to Los Angeles. The original Lakers, based in Minneapolis, still a had logo that is very reminiscent of the logo they wear today. That logo still features the basketball as the main design feature but with a picture of Minnesotta inside the main element. It was a feature that arguably made a great deal of sense for the original team, but it’s also a feature that was very wisely dropped as soon as the team relocated to Los Angeles.
Yellow has always been the primary color of the Lakers. Even when the team was the Minneapolis Lakers, the main elements of the logo were still a golden-yellow color. Over the intervening years, the only real changes have been in the specific shades of yellow used. The original Los Angeles Lakers logo featured a darker yellow and darker purple. Both colors were lightened in 1976 before the team eventually settled on a color scheme that was about halfway between the two shades in 2001. Even so, the colors are close enough that merchandise from the three eras looks virtually identical.
There has only been one major font change for the Lakers. The Minneapolis Lakers logo featured the letters MLPS above the basketball logo and the word LAKERS below, both written in a font style that was very popular among professional teams in the 1940s and 1950s. When the team moved to Los Angeles, they adopted the iconic font that features the speed lines coming off the first and last letters in the logo. Virtually no changes to the font have been made since 1961.
It’s hard to pick a single influence for the Lakers’ logo. On one hand, it’s clearly beholden to the original logo of the Minneapolis Lakers and several other pre-NBA teams. It’s a great throwback to an era gone by, albeit one that doesn’t look out of place on the court today. It comes from the same heritage that spawned many other sports logos, including several MLS franchises today.
On the other hand, it’s hard to say that the Lakers logo necessarily inspired any other franchise. It has some influence on a few sports teams that came after, but it’s such a classic that other teams have moved away from the general design scheme. As such, the major elements – the unchanging color scheme, for example – are so widely used that it’s impossible to find any kind of direct lineage from this logo to another.
- The name ‘Lakers’ come from Minnesota’s nickname ‘The Land of a Thousand Lakes’.
- The Lakers have scored 16 combined NBA titles.
- The signature ‘showtime’ offense was created by Lakers’ legend Magic Johnson.
The Lakers logo is timeless. The simple design elements are unchanging and look neither behind the times nor like part of the current zeitgeist. The way the logo was put together was perhaps prescient, but it manages to be one logo that seems impossible to update again. If you’re looking for perfection in logo making, there’s a good chance it will be found here.