The NBA logo belongs to the most pre-eminent North American men’s professional basketball league. It is one of the most respected and appreciated logos in history. Despite being no stranger to controversy, the logo is still adored by sports fans throughout the nation. So, what is the history of the NBA logo?
In this article, we are going to talk about the design elements which help the NBA logo work so well. We are also going to approach some less-known facts about the logo and the association. Let’s see how the people behind the NBA logo took a shot and scored.
Changes and Evolution
Before the current, long-lasting version of the NBA logo, the association used to sport a different one entirely. However, in the midst of an all-out publicity war with the American Basketball Association, things had to change. Back then going by the name of Basketball Association of America, the NBA decided it was time to end the war.
The NBA logo before Jerry West (we’ll get into that later) consisted of a simple white-gray basketball. It had the words National Basketball Association written on it. National and Association were curved along the groves of the basketball. Meanwhile, the years during which each season took place were displayed at the top of the logo.
This version of the logo was in use between 1950 and 1969. The current version was designed in 1971 and nobody even considered changing it to this day. This is because of all the work and effort that went into making the NBA logo as close to perfection as possible.
NBA Logo Design Elements
As with most logos which had more than a few minutes poured into them, the NBA logo is very complex and well thought out. It features a number of design and meta-design elements perfectly crafted for the occasion. And it was all the work of highly successful international design and brand strategy firm Siegel+Gale.
The main meta-design elements of the NBA logo are, of course, its color and its shape. They are the elements meant to be interpreted by the public, meant to inspire and evoke certain feelings. And we are going to go over each of them and see how they are meant to be perceived.
Consisting of a basketball player in motion, the NBA logo is a staple when it comes to sports emblems. It is very dynamic and inspiring, accomplishing a lot with minimal space. Even if the NBA initials were missing from the logo, the subject would still be perfectly clear. And that is what a great logo can accomplish.
Very streamlined and easy to adapt, the NBA logo features a dribbling basketball player, ball in hand. The player in question is Jerry West, although the NBA is still reluctant to admit that. We will go into the reason behind that in the Inspiration section. Still, everybody knows that he is the player in question.
Vertical and dynamic, the NBA logo perfectly captures the essence of the game. Symbolizing the pinnacle of excellence in professional basketball, the image brings in more than $3 billion a year from licensing alone.
Highly patriotic, iconic, and easy to market, the NBA logo features three beloved colors – red, white, and blue. Sporting the colors of the star-spangled banner, the current NBA logo is a true symbol of American culture. But aside from the fact that the color scheme is meant to be patriotic, each of the colors stands for something else.
First off, red is a color frequently used in sports. Very emotionally intense, it helps with the state in which spectators should be during a game. The color can increase respiration rates, blood pressure, and even the human metabolism. It is often used to evoke feelings of passion, and it’s frequently associated with power, determination, and energy. So, it is the perfect color for an Association dealing in competitive sports.
Next, we have the blue part of the logo. It is frequently associated with stability and trust. Beneficial to both the mind and body, blue is the opposite color to red. Blue is very often used to create a sense of trust, loyalty, and confidence. So, many teams use it to gather a loyal, supportive following. The same is the case for the NBA.
Finally, white is the color of perfection. It stands for safety, cleanliness, and innocence. Other than being part of the American flag, white was used in the NBA logo to suggest fair play and honesty. The association promises to play by the rules, guaranteeing transparency.
Despite the fact that National Basketball Association is very reluctant to admit it, the inspiration for the NBA logo is retired player Jerry West. However, the reason behind NBA’s reluctance to admit it is nobler than you might expect.
Back in 1969, the NBA and the ABA were locked in a struggle for popularity. With millions of dollars at stake, the NBA decided they needed expert help. So, they contacted Alan Siegel, the founder of Siegel+Gale. He was to design a logo that would turn the NBA into a staple of American basketball.
Siegel started looking over the photo archives of Sport magazine in search for inspiration. This went on for a while until he stumbled upon a particular photo of All-Star Jerry West. Playing for the Lakers, West was captured as he was dribbling in a very athletic position. From this still, the NBA logo was born.
Now, let’s talk about why the NBA refuses to admit that it’s Jerry West who’s featured in their logo. The main reason is how the Association will be seen afterward. NBA’s goal is to institutionalize basketball, not to individualize it. Identifying the classic logo with a single player would go against everything they have accomplished so far.
Founded seventy years ago, in 1946, the NBA is recognized by the International Basketball Federation as the United States’ national governing body for basketball. Belonging to one of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, NBA players are the best-paid athletes in the world.
June 28th, 2006, is the first time the NBA ever changed balls. That was the first change brought to the ball in more than 35 years and sixty seasons. It was a Spalding product, with a new design and made out of a new synthetic material. The material was said to give the ball a better grip and texture.
However, as soon as the ball officially hit the courts, players started complaining about it. It turns out that the grip was nowhere near as good as advertised. Additionally, many players reported hand injuries and cuts caused by the microfiber texture of the ball. The Players’ Association even sued the NBA on behalf of the players over the quality of the ball.
Belonging to one of the most beloved sports associations in America, the NBA logo is a staple of national culture. With its fascinating backstory and controversial inspiration, the emblem is unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon. For other similar stories, read about the Chicago Bulls logo and the Monster Energy Drink logo.