The National Basketball Association’s logo is one of the most recognised logos ever created in sport. The iconic image of a player dribbling the basketball is a lasting image in the world of professional sports. Have you ever wondered about the history behind the NBA logo? Or rather, who is the player that the NBA logo is inspired from?
How the logo was invented and the inpiration behind it.
The NBA logo you see today is still the original first-ever NBA logo created. It features the silhouette of a man dribbling the ball as if he is on the move up the court. He’s outlined in white and flocked on either side with blue and red. The logo was created in 1969 by the famous brand consultant, Alan Siegal, who also created the major league baseball logo. He was looking to do something similar to the MLB logo that was equally impactful. He began searching for inspiration that would strike him the same way the inspiration for the MLB logo did.
After sifting through thousands of classic images of the game, Siegal found a photo of professional basketball player Jerry West playing a match. The pose West was in was perfect for the foundation of what Siegal wanted for the logo.
To this day the NBA has refused to formally acknowledge that the logo is in fact based on Jerry West’s image. This isn’t due to any negativity towards Jerry West himself. He was, and still is, an exemplary ambassador for the league. Finishing his distinguished playing career in 1974 with 14 All-star appearances, 9 Finals appearances and one NBA Championship (1972). He went on to become successful both as a coach and member of various front office teams. The reason many people, including designer Alan Siegel, believe the NBA won’t acknowledge West’s image is used in the logo is that the logo itself represents all NBA players. Allowing it to be officially recognised as one man, would diminish its universal nature and change how it is viewed.
Time for a change?
One of the most popular recommendations for a new NBA logo was to use the famous player, Kobe Bryant, for inspiration. This recommendation was made ever so popular right after the unfortunate event that led to his passing in January 2020.
The idea circulated around on Twitter for a while, but really wasn’t as popular as many people would expect. The idea really started to gain attention though, when his wife, Vanessa Bryant, supported the idea.
For now, the current NBA logo is going nowhere, as it helps to generate $3 billion annually. However, West has said in the past that he wishes to no longer remain the silhouetted face of the NBA, and ex-commissioner David Stern once considered changing the logo. Will it change? Possibly, but the logo has become so recognizable and helps to generate so much money, it’s doubtful that logo will disappear anytime soon.