Who Should Be the Next NBA Logo?
Jerry West is tired of seeing his silhouette as the league’s logo. Here are 5 solid replacements
Lakers legend Jerry West’s silhouette has been the figure in the NBA’s logo since 1969, when legendary brand strategist Alan Siegel designed it, and fashioned it after a Wen Roberts picture of the Lakers star. Though David Stern, one of the league’s most storied commissioners, has refused to acknowledge it in the past, there’s little doubt about it. And it’s time to change it—West himself divulged as much during an interview Friday on ESPN’s The Jump.
“If they would want to change it, I wish they would,” West said on The Jump. “In many ways, I wish they would.”
Well, since the legend is done being “The Logo,” it might be time to start thinking about viable replacements. They would have to be distinguished—West is a 14-time All-Star, NBA Champion, and a career 27 points-per-game scorer—and held in high-esteem. After West retired as a player, he became a coach for the Lakers, won Executive of the Year twice, and currently serves on the NBA’s executive board.
Who could potentially carry on the legacy of “The Logo?” We’ve got five pretty darn good ideas below.
This is the obvious pick, right? He’s the reason the term “goat” doesn’t refer to an animal anymore. Guy changed the damn dictionary. The blind free throw. The flu game. The triple fist pump. The (slight) push-off. He’s had way too many of the league’s most iconic, singular moments. If you want to explain basketball to someone who’s never heard of it, you pull up Michael Jordan. This is what this shit is all about, my friend. So, yeah, he’s got to be an automatic top 3 candidate. Whether they admit it or not, every player in the league wanted to be like Mike. That’s logo material.
And here’s the pose it’s got to be.
This is another obvious if, for some reason, Michael Jordan doesn’t work. Maybe the head of the logo office lost his house at a Vegas crap table once and has something against gamblers. Can’t imagine another scenario that works.
In that case, though, LeBron James is your guy. He’s the prototype. Since 2004, every NBA general manager and head coach has gone to high school and college games looking for players with LeBron James’ physicality and skill set. Suddenly, your 26 points-per-game wasn’t impressive unless it came with at least 5 rebounds and 5 assists apiece. That’s an unfathomable feat for most players. For LeBron, it’s a shade under his career average. He’s got a billion-plus Nike deal, 3 rings, and an entire city on his shoulders. Can’t do better than that.
A.I. would be a dark horse pick for sure, but it sure isn’t unjustifiable. A.I. is the definition of a comeback kid. The justice system nearly took his career before it started, but he persevered and excelled. Against all physical and roster odds, he led the Sixers to that iconic Game 1 win in the 2001 Finals. Just for a moment, David had one-upped Goliath. It’s a microcosm of everything A.I. represents, and the league is full of stories like his. The reigning two-time MVP, Steph Curry, was criticized coming out of college for being too small. He’s now the greatest shooter (arguably) ever. See a trend here? Those silhouette cornrows would be a game-changer.
Speaking of the Splash Brother, that would be another home run for the league, wouldn’t it? Curry’s the underdog and prodigal son that did one better than Iverson, he actually won it all. And he did it against King James, in year 1 of his prophetic return to the Cavaliers. With that record-breaking jump shot and that ridiculous mouthguard, Steph Curry changed the trajectory of basketball. Of sports. Of pop culture. Chubbs isn’t “like Draymond” if the Warriors don’t win that 2015 title. You gotta love a disruptive force. Steph is already a legend, let him splash it in the icon.
Before you click away from the page, think about this for a second. Jerry West is a legend, and he always will be, but he wasn’t the obvious choice to represent the league, even in 1969. Bill Russell and Elgin Baylor were two of the game’s biggest stars, and Russell was part of an incredible championship streak in the late 1960’s with the Celtics, championships that were won by beating West’s Lakers. So, sure, Yao Ming had trouble in the playoffs, and had a career cut short by injury, but he was a key component in ushering in the brand of basketball we see in today’s NBA. Yao was unbelievably tall—7-foot-6-inches to be exact—but unlike most of the league’s giants, he had a respectable mid-range shooting game, and could even hit the occasional three-pointer. Juxtaposed against Shaquille O’Neal often for obvious reasons, Ming’s game began to look more valuable in certain instances. When the game is on the line and free throws will decide the difference, for example. Or, when you want to force a big man to defend out of his comfort zone. Guys like Anthony Davis, Karl Anthony-Towns and more are all spiritual Yao Ming descendants, and the game’s impressively diverse rosters have Ming in large part to thank. Career averages of 19 ppg and 9 rpg don’t hurt either.