NBA LOGO: Who is on NBA Logo? (Meaning & Basic Branding)

Photo Credit: Fadeaway World

The present NBA logo is one of the most well-known symbols in sports. However, its history and archetypes are currently unknown. Well, for starters, the NBA logo, designed by Alan Siegel in 1969, was inspired by Los Angeles Lakers’ great Jerry West.

But this classic photo has caused its owner trouble and started a movement to change the way things are done. It all appears simple, yet it is quite complicated. Nevertheless, we’ll look at the history of the NBA, the roots of its logo, and the success that it has brought to understand how this design came to be.


Jerry West, a Lakers basketball player who inspired the logo, is the face of the NBA. For good reason, the photograph piqued the designer’s interest. Even as a silhouette, it appears to glide across the page. It’s a vibrant graphic that accurately depicts the sport’s essence.

The logo’s color scheme (red, white, and blue) appealed to the NBA’s viewers’ patriotism and served to establish the league as America’s choice for professional basketball.

The guy who developed the NBA logo, Siegel, was able to highlight what genuinely sets the NBA distinct by using one of the league’s superstars as inspiration for the emblem. The NBA, maybe more than any other sport, has long been spurred to prominence by the popularity of a few exceptionally spectacular players. Including one of these players in the creation of the NBA, the logo was a sensible idea and an important design element of the NBA logo.

The NBA Logo has evolved over time. Over the years, the Logo has undergone several much-needed modifications.

The NBA, the highest level of competition for US basketball stars outside of the Olympics, joins the NFL and MLB as one of the country’s three most powerful sports organizations. It is an organization with a long history that is full of inspiring success stories. Since 1969, the now-iconic image of a basketball player set against a red and blue background has represented this top organization.

Alan Siegel, a brand consultant, designed the NBA logo in 1969. The image is so well-known and trademarked that the NBA has used it for the past 50 years.

Previously, Siegel was in charge of creating the Major League Baseball logo. He used the same concept to design the NBA logo.

The original NBA logo features Jerry West of the Los Angeles Lakers.

He finalized the project using West’s lines as a guide. NBA commissioner Walter Kennedy approved of the choice. The irony is that he had no idea West was the archetype, and neither did the owner.

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Siegel chose West’s image because he felt it captured the tournament’s sportiness and dynamism. The silhouette conveys force, grace, and seamless motion all at the same time. Simultaneously, the red, white, and blue tones invoke patriotism.

As they competed with the American Basketball Association, this image emphasizes the NBA’s standing as the top American premier basketball league.

While Siegel is proud of his inspiration, the majority of leagues do not. In an interview with The Undefeated in 2017, Siegel detailed how he created the logo for David Stern. Stern misidentified the original model as Jerry West.

Siegel provided several personal reasons why the NBA would reject the original idea. Perhaps the league did not want to specify a player on the emblem because they were afraid Jerry West would want royalties. Surprisingly, this is not the case in this instance.

The NBA’s History

The Basketball Association of America (the NBA) was created in June 1946 by a group of businessmen who owned many large ice hockey arenas in the Northern United States and Canada. The American Basketball League (ABL) and the National Basketball League (NBL) were the league’s competitors at the time, but it would be the NBA’s subsequent competition with an upstart league known as the American Basketball Association that would push the design of the NBA emblem we have today.

Following a period of competition among the three leagues, the BAA absorbed the NBL in a merger that resulted in the formation of the NBA. Since then, the NBA has included superstars such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, and a slew of other names who have helped to propel the league to international prominence. Though the NBA had its challenges (low attendance, low ratings, and drug scandals threatened to derail the league in the late 1970s), it was superstars like these that kept the game in the spotlight and finally pushed its ratings into the stratosphere.

The NBA now has 30 teams, 29 from the United States and one from Canada, and it is one of the most lucrative sports leagues in the world. Last year, game seven of the NBA championship between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors garnered 30.8 million viewers, rivaling the popularity of the College Football Playoff, March Madness, and even the Superbowl.

With such immense success, it’s difficult to picture the NBA struggling to market itself to fans and solidify its status as the only significant professional basketball league. Still, it wasn’t long ago that the NBA was forced to do precisely that. However, the NBA logo was formed from the ashes of this battle.

History and Significance

The National Basketball Association logo first became identifiable in 1969. Previously, it appeared to be standard: artists would place the NBA’s entire or abbreviated name on balls of various forms on a regular basis. To compete with the American Basketball Association, which has started a tender war and attracted many famous athletes, the men’s professional league has had to reassess conservative branding attitudes.

1950 – 1953

Following the renaming of The Basketball Association of America to the National Basketball Association in 1950, a number of basketball symbols arose. As demonstrated by the number “1950-51” placed on top, the first version was dedicated to the 1950-1951 season. NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION was inscribed in large red characters in the center of the white circle. The words were separated into three lines, each with an odd shape: the first bent upward, the second expanded towards the middle, and the third took the shape of an arch.

1953 – 1962

In terms of principle, the 1953 redesign made no substantial alterations. Only the colors, proportions, and some features changed: the ball turned brown and took on a pronounced oval form, and the league’s long name was dropped in favor of the acronym “NBA.”

1962 – 1969

The National Basketball Association debuted a new logo in 1962, which was white and circular, as it had been since 1950. The original design is recognized by two crescents formed by black arching lines crossing the ball. The inscription “NBA” lies in the center. From left to right, the letters are positioned diagonally.

1969 – 2017

The men’s professional league had to undergo a global overhaul due to unfair competition from the American Basketball Association. The NBA began to lose athletes and fan support as experienced referees and basketball players fled to the ABA. To contrast the NBA’s flashy attitude with the ABA’s original play style, it was ultimately decided to update the brand name.

The answer was entrusted to Alan Siegel, the founder, and CEO of the Siegel + Gale branding firm, who once personally oversaw the development of the MLB emblem. The National Basketball Association features an insignia with the image of a basketball player, a ball, and the text “NBA” inside a red and blue rectangle with rounded edges as a result of meticulous labor. It first appeared in 1971 and has been an important feature of the brand to this day.

2017 – Today

In 2017, the designers added the finishing touch by changing the typeface of the abbreviation and making the lines smaller. The remaining elements are left alone. Jerry West’s NBA logo has become more distinct and appealing.

Many people believe that playing in the National Basketball Association and becoming a legendary player is a fantastic honor. But, in the case of Jerry West, this produced much greater difficulties.

Jerry West was at odds with himself. He was initially proud, but as time passed, he became embarrassed and bitter.

The NBA logo not only influenced the entire league but also impacted West’s life. People eventually forgot about his basketball legacies and became obsessed with the original logo.

Jerry West’s basketball career is noteworthy since he is one of the Lakers’ most important point guards. He has been in nine NBA Finals, winning one. West also had 14 All-Star Game appearances and was named Finals MVP while playing for the losing side.

Jerry West claims that the logo is no longer his emblem, but that he has become the logo himself. His moniker “The Logo” is becoming more popular as a spark to ignite the greased sea of shame.

When the anger reached a boiling point, Jerry West told ESPN that he was embarrassed and wished the NBA could modify the emblem. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s groundbreaking skyhook, Michael Jordan’s famous “Jump Man,” and LeBron James’s memorable “breakaway dunk” are some of the pictures that West suggested.

However, it is not as simple as it appears. The amount of time and money needed to build and re-promote the new NBA logo was daunting. No investor would accept this arrangement solely to make Jerry West happy.

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The NBA logo debate had died down until the biggest tragedy in NBA history occurred.

Some people believe that Kobe Bryant should be the new model for the NBA logo.

Though the Jerry West logo’s narrative appeared to be over, it reappeared after the tragic death of star Kobe Bryant in January 2020.

This event compelled everyone to find a way to pay tribute to one of the greatest basketball players in NBA history. One approach they propose is to replace the NBA logo.

These statements were initially brief and received little notice when they appeared on Twitter. Only when Bryant’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, agreed to change the new logo did everything explode. Kyrie Irving later expressed his thoughts on Instagram, where he has 14 million followers.

The Brooklyn Nets star stated “black rulers established the league,” reigniting the debate over the logo model. When we look back at NBA history, we can’t help but agree with him.

The Boston Celtics were a forerunner in integrating black players into the league. In 1950, they became the first team to choose a black basketball player, Chuck Cooper.

The Celtics started five black players in their first game in 1964. In 1966, the squad also set a first by hiring a black man as head coach, Bill Russell.

Boston’s success is undeniable. In the 1950s and 1960s, they won 11 NBA championships. The NBA has become a more culturally diverse league in recent years, but the dominance of black and African-American athletes remains severe.

Although the terrible loss of Kobe Bryant sparked the struggle to change the prototype of the NBA emblem, the league is having difficulty adopting it.

Bryant was accused of sexual assault in 2004 before denying the charge, which was a blemish on his résumé.

The federation is acutely aware of its public image. As a result, there is absolutely little likelihood that Black Mamba will feature on the logo.

Even when we consider the tournament’s extensive history, Bryant was not the one who constructed the empire. No one can doubt the former basketball star’s talent and accomplishments, but there are other worthy contenders.

The first is most likely Bill Russell. After 50 years, no one has been able to break his record of 11 NBA championships. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the next challenger, and his signature “skyhook” is instantly known by all.

The rivalry between stars Larry Bird and Magic Johnson also contributed to the NBA’s popularity in the 1980s. And then there’s LeBron James, who has elevated the NBA experience over the last 20 years with his top form and immaculate image.

However, six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan is the most likely candidate. The only thing standing in his way of becoming the emblem was the image of Jumpman employed by Jordan Brand. Using a different style with this built-in icon image will result in a marketing issue.

The Emblem’s Font and Colors

Alan Siegel designed the new NBA logo in 1969, based on an actual photograph. However, National Basketball Association authorities rejected the apparent resemblance from the start. After all, they wanted to institutionalize the image, not individualize it, according to Siegel. The league representatives did not want the corporate sign to be identified with any specific basketball player, so they attempted to distract the attention of the personality.

Despite the concealment, the player on the insignia is easily recognized. Photographer Wen Roberts snapped the iconic Lakers’ Jerry West during the game. True, an athlete can only be identified by the way he dribbles: the artist purposefully avoided detailing, depicting an impersonal white silhouette. According to Alan Siegel, he discovered a reference in a sports magazine and realized how well the image reflects the game’s dynamism and soul. Jerry West acknowledges that his likeness is utilized in the logo but believes he is unworthy of such recognition.

The inscription “NBA” appears in the lower-left corner of the badge. It’s written in a simple sans-serif font that resembles Horrible Jefe Font and Helvetica Pro Black Condensed. The typeface was created specifically for the professional league.

The traditional color scheme consists of white, blue, and red. There is also a black-and-white print edition available. It is intended for use in newspapers, magazines, and other media where a monochromatic palette is required.

The NBA Logo’s Popularity

Though the primary objective of renaming the NBA was long ago fulfilled, the NBA logo continues to be extremely popular. It may be found on everything from clothing and gear to posters and decorations and everything in between. As a result, the popularity of the NBA’s emblem continues to generate enormous amounts of money in apparel sales for the league.

This component of a logo’s potential is frequently disregarded during its initial design, but it is still an extremely vital feature to consider; design an appealing enough logo, and it may simply pay for itself many times over in item sales alone. While your business may not sell as many t-shirts as the NBA, having a great-looking logo to utilize on your items never hurts, especially if you own a brand that people are happy to wear.

Whether you are inspired by the NBA logo or simply curious about its history, this logo is well worth your time. It’s an effective design that has lasted the test of time, representing one of the world’s most popular sports leagues today.

Last Thoughts

Jerry West’s silhouette has long been associated with the NBA emblem. Perhaps now is the time to shift and pay honor to the genuine monarchs of the league, the black basketball players.

So yes, the question of who will be the best candidate has not been resolved. There are so many amazing people on this list that it can be difficult to choose. All we can do is sit back and watch the future unfold.


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