The National Basketball Association (NBA) is basketball’s most prestigious league. It is associated with many of the sport’s greatest achievements.
To symbolize the association, the NBA decided to make a logo that we all know and love today. However, did you know that the logo is someone that used to play in the NBA?
You would be surprised to know that the person behind the NBA logo is Jerry West, the former Los Angeles Lakers star player.
In this article, I will discuss how the NBA logo silhouette came about, and what its history is. Read on as I explain the important history of the player dribbling in the NBA’s iconic symbol and logo.
The History Of The NBA Logo
Former NBA commissioner, Walter Kennedy, is the main catalyst on why the NBA logo exists. In 1969, the NBA and the American Basketball Association were expanding, with 14 teams established.
To kickstart the project, Commissioner Kennedy wanted the logo done by former high school basketball star Alan Siegel.
Before Kennedy approached Siegel, Siegal had already created the logo for the MLB. Hence, there are noticeable similarities between the baseball and basketball league logos.
A particular photo in a sports magazine that contained Jerry West’s figure inspired Alan Siegel to create the original logo.
Why is Jerry West the NBA logo?
Siegel explained that the LA Lakers player’s figure had a nice vertical to his stance, and it had him leaning and dribbling simultaneously.
Other stars, like Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Bill Russell, and Wilt Chamberlain, were considered at the time. But Siegel thought West was the perfect person to represent the NBA logo.
The Jerry West Logo
It is known throughout NBA history and amongst the NBA players that the person behind the NBA logo and silhouette is Jerry West.
Although Jerry West won only one championship in his entire career, even winning the Finals MVP despite being on the losing team, he is still one of the greatest players of all time.
West has appeared in the NBA finals nine times, winning only one out of the nine finals appearances he had.
He may not have won multiple championships in his professional basketball career, but because of his talent, skills, and high level of knowledge of the game, he is cemented as one of the most important figures the NBA has been blessed with.
Players like John Stockton, Gary Payton, and other guards in the league’s history were inspired or somewhat influenced by this man, and it shows.
Why Did Jerry West Want The American Basketball Association To Change The NBA Logo?
It is a surprise that West didn’t like that he was the main figure of the NBA’s most iconic symbol.
West said he doesn’t like being the silhouette of the NBA because he does not like being the center of attention. He’d much appreciate it if another player replaced him.
It is similar to the reasoning of the former commissioner, David Stern, and why he does not want any player to be the main figure of the league’s image.
Stern does not want a player to be the icon for everyone in the NBA, and it can have a perceived environment of favoritism in the association to choose a player to be the image of basketball’s top professional league.
What Makes Up The NBA Logo?
With Jerry West as the image for all basketball players and the entire basketball association in the NBA, it is time to add the finishing touches to one of the sports’ iconic logos.
Alan Siegel took inspiration from his created logo for the MLB and stuck with the red and blue background.
The red, white, and blue colors represent the American flag’s colors and signify that these sports leagues are indeed American-based sports leagues.
The NBA logo consisted of a basketball player silhouette, specifically a Jerry West dribbling silhouette. Mix all these elements, and you get basketball’s most iconic logo.
What Are The Logos Of Other Sports?
A sport is always associated with its logo. Without its logo, the sport essentially loses a form of its identity and a picture that can help casual fans identify the sport.
With that being said, let’s explore some of the most iconic logos in sports! You will notice how basketball and the other sports have similar color schemes.
The Major League Baseball Logo
Alan Siegel did the MLB logo. Siegel created this logo before the NBA logo.
That is the main reason the MLB and NBA are the most similar in terms of logos compared to the different sports leagues’ logos.
Both logos have a silhouette of a player in their respective sport and have the same color scheme and theme.
While both are heavily similar, they are essential to their respective sports and carry much weight for the people involved and the fans.
The National Football League Logo
Unlike the MLB and NBA, the NFL logo does not have a silhouette of a player in American football. Instead, it has a picture of the football/pigskin.
The NFL may not have that iconic person they want to be represented, but the different thing the league did to differentiate itself from the MLB and NBA is to use the official equipment they use.
The logo of the NFL has the luxury of the stars in its image, likely to symbolize that it is an American league composed of the best players in the world.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
I will endeavor to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the NBA logo.
Have They Considered Kobe Bryant to Be the New Face of the NBA Logo?
Players like Lebron James, Magic Johnson, and others in the league have requested the NBA to change the logo to Kobe Bryant, especially after his tragic passing in January 2020.
The NBA thought the logo was too iconic to change, so they named the future league MVP award the Kobe Bryant award.
The image of Jerry West carries so much history of the game that the league finds it difficult to change. This is the reason why they decided to go for the MVP award in honor of Kobe.
Have They Considered Michael Jordan To Be The NBA Logo?
Arguably the greatest player of all time, the NBA has considered Jordan the logo of the NBA.
They had considered Jordan due to him bringing popularity to the basketball world when things were looking rough.
Jordan single-handedly made basketball achieve record-breaking TV ratings every time he played on the court, so the association was forced to consider if he should be the face of the league.
However, with Jordan establishing his brand through the Air Jordans, the NBA league has no right to the iconic image of this once-in-a-lifetime player.
Was There A Player That Was The NBA Logo Before Jerry West?
The NBA never had a logo until 1969, when Siegel created it.
Because of the sports magazine, the image of the NBA is what it is today. That day would forever change the game and visual representation of the NBA.
The silhouette symbolized what a basketball player should be and that every player should aspire for greatness.
Has The NBA Ever Considered Changing Its Current NBA Logo?
With additional changes to the logo (font changes), it looks like the NBA does not have any obligation to change the current logo to a new NBA logo.
Creating a new logo is a much bigger task than you can imagine because it is changing a form of identity for the game of basketball and the NBA.
A new logo means changing the DNA and history of the logo that has impacted the National Basketball Association for as long as it has run.
With how iconic and prevalent the image has been, the NBA and the league have no plans of changing the NBA logo to a new one.
The person behind the NBA logo is Jerry West.
Although he does not fully support being the icon for many basketball players, the symbol still carries history and importance for the game of basketball.
The image is what people will think of when the word “basketball” is mentioned, and it is the NBA’s identity for many fans worldwide.
It may seem trivial to know the history behind the picture of the NBA, but it is essential to understand how it came about and why it is one of basketball’s most treasured images.
Feature image credit: Barry Bregman, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons