NBA Logo And It’s History: From Jerry West To Kobe Bryant?

nba logo

Have you ever wondered what the history behind the NBA logo is? Or rather, who is the NBA logo? Well, it’s not something that’s commonly spoken about in mainstream media, so it comes as no surprise if you haven’t.

So what’s the deal behind the logo anyway? Actually, there’s so much to discuss. In fact, the NBA logo has a long history behind it.

This article will discuss the history of the NBA logo as well as some of the most popular discussions about its future.

The NBA logo you see today was actually the first-ever NBA logo created. The logo was created in 1969 by the brand consultant Alan Siegal. Before the NBA logo was created, Siegal worked to create the major league baseball (MLB) as well.

He wanted to do something similar and create a logo that was equally impactful as the one the MLB had. He began searching for inspiration that would strike him the same way the inspiration for the MLB logo did. 

This is where the controversy starts. 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.

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Former Lakers point guard Jerry West was the inspiration for the logo, which was designed in 1969.

Siegal decided to base the logo on Siegal’s photo and sent it to his commissioner, Walter Kennedy. Kennedy loved it as much as Siegal did, not knowing where the photo came from or who it was even based on.

Keep in mind, not even West himself knew that his picture was going to be used as the reference for the NBA logo. In fact, he wasn’t even asked before the logo was completed. 

Apparently, to Siegal, he made around eight to ten different variations of the logo that were all based on West’s pose. The NBA accepted it instantly and began using it almost immediately. He said that when he presented the logo to the NBA, he didn’t make a big deal out of the inspiration that he used.

According to him, some people naturally found out that the picture was based on West without Siegal even disclosing that. Kind of crazy, isn’t it? 

As mentioned earlier, West didn’t even know he was going to be the inspiration for the NBA logo. Naturally, he didn’t like all the new attention he was getting from it. Some people even referred to him as “The Logo” when they would first meet him.

But wouldn’t be the inspiration for the NBA logo, something that everyone in the world will see, be an amazing goal for any professional basketball player? You would probably assume so, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, the important part to remember is that West did not want nor agree to be the logo.

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The silhouette of Jerry West is one of the most iconic sports logos in the world. (Credit: Doug Pensinger/ALLSPORT)

Siegal mentioned that he did actually talk to West a few times, but very rarely. On one occasion, West asked Siegal who was the commissioner for the logo. Siegal told the truth and said Kennedy, to which West just turned a blind eye and ignored Siegal.

During an interview with West’s biographer, Siegal was asked a bunch of questions about his inspiration and whether or not West was the actual influence for the logo. However, during this time, West never actually talked directly to Siegal.

Jerry West Requests a Change?

At first, he was mildly surprised and had a pretty neutral reaction to it. Jonathan Coleman, West’s biographer, stated that Jerry was equally proud and embarrassed to be the inspiration for the NBA logo.

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The NBA logo is one of the most recognizable symbols in American basketball. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Eventually, West became so embarrassed that he confronted the NBA and told them that he no longer wanted to be known as “The Logo” and demanded the NBA change it. He recommended some other inspirations be used such as Michael Jordan, LeBron James, or Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

This event took place four years ago. Since then, nothing has changed. The NBA still uses the Jerry West NBA logo.

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. 

Kyrie Irving also chimed in on Instagram, posting a picture of Bryant as the new logo for the NBA with a caption saying “Gotta happen, idc what anyone says. BLACK KINGS BUILT THE LEAGUE.” This drew a whole bunch of attention because of the nation’s desire to see Black people represented as equally as their white counterparts.

NBA logo kobe bryant
Some have proposed the possibility of changing the NBA logo to a silhouette of the late Kobe Bryant.

But wouldn’t this fix the issue of the logo? We’d get a brand-new logo with a highly esteemed Black professional NBA player. West would also get his wish of being removed from the NBA logo to come true. 

But there are some drawbacks to using Bryant as the new logo, and we’ll most likely never see it happen. 

(TRIGGER WARNING: talk of rape and assault!) Many people speculate this is because Bryant’s accusation in 2003 of assault. The case was settled, but remained permanently ingrained in history. 

So What Next?

Well, nothing as of now. Not much talk has been going around about what logo NBA will be using in the future. Fans are still pushing (alongside Irving and Vanessa Bryant) for the logo to take inspiration from Kobe Bryant.

The chances of Kobe making it as the new NBA logo are slim. But we’ll never know what happens. Stay tuned for more, and be sure to check out our website for other sports-related news and updates.