To design the NBA logo, the association turned to Alan Siegel, founder of Siegel+Gale.

Seeking inspiration, Siegel pored through the photo archives of Sport magazine. A particular photo of the All-Star Jerry West grabbed his attention: It was dynamic, it was vertical, it captured the essence of the game.

Jerry West NBA logo photo
Jerry West photo for the NBA logo, by the late Wen Roberts.

NBA logo

The NBA is reluctant to acknowledge that it’s Jerry West in the logo, and Siegel, a lifelong basketball fan, believes he knows why.

“They want to institutionalise it rather than individualise it. It’s become such a ubiquitous, classic symbol and focal point of their identity and their licensing program that they don’t necessarily want to identify it with one player.”

NBA Commissioner David Stern, through a spokesman, declined to comment, saying he doesn’t know whether West was the figure depicted in the logo.

“There’s no record of it here,” spokesman Tim Frank said.

Today, this classic image generates $3 billion a year in licensing, and the NBA name symbolises the pinnacle of excellence in professional basketball.

That’s the brief version, via Siegel+Gale and LA Times.

It’s worth noting that Jerry West wished it never got out that he’s the silhouette, and said “I don’t like to do anything that calls attention to myself.”

For a worthwhile overview of essential logo design traits, have a look at what makes a truly great logo.


No, sorry that logo’s dated and does nothing for me. Maybe because it’s not something I was brought up with but looking at it with ‘fresh’ eyes it’s derivative and very boring.

Sir, I would agree with you you but if you look at it from another point of view, it doesn’t only represent Jerry West, but represents all the players in the NBA, and should be given more credit since its been standing strong for 40 years! So I don’t think “fresh eyes” have anything to do with it but seeing the “point of view” may help.

I noticed that David made that comment in 2011 so there’s fat chance he will ever see it, but I say it to anyone else that thinks that picture is just an icon and has no meaning.

I disagree. You might think it should go to all the NBA players, but they all weren’t the origins like Jerry West was. That’s like saying Michael Jordan’s logo represents all players, but no, it originated from Jordan. Jerry West deserves credit for the logo because it’s based on him.

Tell me again, what has he done for the NBA? One championship? Robert Horry has 7, why not change it to him? But the argument is that MJ is the best, or Wilt is the best, or Magic, or Kareem, or Kobe, or Shaq, let’s not forget about Mr Oscar, Dr J, Hakeem! I guess by now you can see the pattern and reason why they got West as the logo!

Winning one championship is just one of the many things Jerry West has done for the NBA as a player and a GM.

True, he was in the finals nine times and only won once. However, he gave everything he had consistently, which was a great deal… look up his career stats. During the regular season his numbers were great, and even greater in the playoffs, which is what truly measures greatness, not how many championships you have — how many rings you have measures how great your whole team is.

Also, most of the time, he went up against a better, more well-rounded team (Celtics) in the finals. Wilt came to Lakers in the 68/69 season and he was already a little past his prime. With Wilt, they were in the finals 4 times and won once. Wilt was no question one of the greatest centers ever and arguably the most dominating… BUT in my opinion, he did not have the heart that Jerry West had late in the game in crunch time, if he would have, I believe the Lakers at that time would have won more rings, at least one more, maybe two more.

Robert Horry was on 4 great teams and that’s why he has 7 rings. I do think Magic, Kareem, Oscar, and Dr. J are definitely candidates that deserve to be the logo even more than Jordan because they made their mark before he did. I definitely do not think that Jerry was the logo because he was white, which seems to be what you’re suggesting.

I think DR J’s one handed dunk from the free throw line should be the logo. I said that for years. Jerry West makes a good logo considering the consistency he showed throughout his years and his contributions to the NBA.

Jerry West will always remain Number 1 with me for many reasons! He is the NBA logo and rightly so. Mr. Clutch forever!

If you don’t know why he’s the logo back in 1969 you’re either a bigot or delusional, then why not make the logo of the player who was winning the championships at that time Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics? 🤔

I don’t think Jerry West is the logo because he’s white, that’s absurd. In 1969 JW was a bad man, and anybody who was blessed with seeing him play knows it. Larry Bird is not the first badass white cat to play in the NBA. It’s not all about political crap all the time. The guy who designed the logo, looked in a SI and saw Jerry looking like he was taking cats to the rack, and in 1969 he was “schooling” the NBA. Don’t on hate on Jerry.

Wasn’t he 1-8 in the finals? So he really wasn’t winning championships at the time of Bill Russell.

Did you read the article? They didn’t select West based on him being a person. They picked a photo. Also, none of the players you listed played then.

Er–if the NBA logo is derived from a photo of Jerry West, doesn’t the NBA owe a little $omething to photographer Wen Roberts and to Mr. West?

No wonder NBA spokesman Tim Frank says there’s no record at HQ.

The logo clearly isn’t a cut out from this picture, so even if this picture was the inspiration nobody is entitled to money from it.

Jerry West is not only an amazing player, but has remained non controversial. He was a standout high school player, all American in college, played in the Olympics, years with the Lakers, coached and owned the team.

I agree. West was an amazing player. Although he never was an owner but the General Manager. I don’t think the logo should be changed. Any player who’s making 60 foot jump shots in the finals (as West did and it wasn’t luck) is worthy in my opinion of being the logo. But if it were to be changed I think it should be changed to George Mikan or Bill Russell. The problem with changing it to Kobe is God forbid Russell or Magic or Michael Jordan were to pass away later this year. What do you do? Change it again? That’s really the problem, who would you change it to? Maybe for its logo the NBA can feature a different Hall of Famer for each month of the season.

It just tickles me when someone has the receipts at their finger tips. Well played, sir.

There are two main reasons they can’t acknowledge it’s him:

1. Having one individual on every piece of merchandise and everything related to a billion dollar business is a major liability. Imagine if he was arrested for something in his personal life or did controversial things. One man’s actions could tarnish the entire image of the business and they’d have to do some major restructuring and recalling to remove him from the mark. As long as it’s not an actual person on the logo, there’s no risk or liability.

2. It could be considered disrespectful to others who accomplished so much more in the sport. It’s clear that West’s image was chosen because of the gravity defying position he was in at the time and how that is somewhat synonymous with doing the impossible or with amazing people.

Gentlemen, I think you are missing the point. West wasn’t the inspiration for the logo because of who he was, because he was the best player, or because he represented the game in some distinctive way. The man who designed the logo just liked the fluid vertical picture of motion represented by the image of one particular photo which happened to be of West. I happen to think the logo has an artistic quality to it, however it could have been based on a photo of some nobody as far as I am concerned. And I think that was what the creator intended. He just made the mistake of mentioning West’s name.

I love the fact that the logo was created in 1969 and it still stands just as strong over 40 years later. Why would you even slightly change it when it brings in that much money!!

Because a Jordan logo would make more, and mean more for the sport, and the culture surrounding it!

Where does anyone get the idea that the logo is bringing in money? And what exactly is the culture surrounding it? A Jewish culture, a black culture, or maybe a European one? At one time Jews dominated basketball like black Americans do now. So should we have a logo of Dolph Schayes? He was Jewish.

I’m a 64 yr old black man living in Chicago and having a Jordan logo would be terrible as far as I’m concerned. I can’t stand that bald-headed, earring wearing dude. Besides, he only has six rings. I have no problem with Jerry West as the logo. He was a bad boy. As good as anyone playing today. And of course one of the reasons they had West as the logo is because he is white. So what. The NBA is a business. Their customer base back then, as it is now, is overwhelmingly white. So why not promote a bad white dude?

Now personally I wish they had selected my all time favorite player the Big “O” or maybe Elgin Baylor. But West is cool. Like I said he was good. A real bad dude. He loves the game just like I do.

If they’re going to change it, they should change it to Bill Russell with his 11 rings, 1 Olympic title, 2 NCAA titles, and 2 of his NBA rings as a player coach. He’s the true GOAT.

And if not Russell, have the logo with Kareem shooting his sky hook. He has 6 rings, 6 MVPs, the all time leading scorer. And throw in 3 NCAA titles and the fact he’s considered the greatest high school and college player of all time. And one of the greatest pros. If Russell isn’t the GOAT than Kareem is.

I like the current logo, but now I’m curious about what a Russell or Kareem logo would look like. Sky hook? Yes please.

I agree completely with those three choices. But I have to admit Bill Russell would be on the top of my list as well. He was one bad dude!

Although I do agree with your overall statement, it’s not the “logo” that brings in the money. It’s the game itself, the players, and more importantly the fans that spend the money to purchase such things as logo’d shirts, jackets, tickets, etc. That and other products that companies advertise at and during the games! The logo only “represents” those things, and more.

It doesn’t matter “who” was in the original picture. The stance represents the feel of the play of the game, it just happened to be Jerry West whose picture stood out at the time, to give the ‘image” the NBA was looking for. Some would disagree, and mainly because of the fact that they don’t respect traditions set forth by such institutions from the past.

Changing it to somebody more “modern” such as MJ or even LJ would be like changing the Lombardi Trophy to the Belichick trophy! Yes, the Patriots coach has led his team to many awesome accomplishments, but no, he did not pioneer the game and make it what it is today. Many people will go down in history for their accomplishments, Eisenhower created a highway system that changed the way America transported and traveled the country, but he did not “pave” the way across the country in the way pioneers Lewis and Clark did in the beginning of the 1800’s. Recreating the logo to represent this Super Star or that of today or tomorrow, would be individualizing the game. So I do absolutely agree with you… It works! Why change it?

For a logo to last 40 years (so far) and become such a classic icon, just goes to show that it doesn’t need to change. I strongly disagree with it being boring, the logo captures basketball and one of the most easily recognisable logos in the world to date.

Jerry west is my great uncle. Though I’ve never met him, from what I’ve read he deserves that logo. It doesn’t need to change and it does capture basketball.

What’s so funny?

Jerry West was one of the greatest basketball players in his time, along with a few others, and that logo goes to show you how strong his presence was felt across the NBA.

If your dad is Patrick Ewing, wouldn’t you want the logo to be changed to him instead of JW? I mean Ewing is one of the greatest centres to ever play and if it wasn’t for Jordan and Pippen, he probably would have been a 2-3 NBA champion and have at least 1-2 MVPs.

Tiffani, Jerry West was my hero when I was a kid. I was born in Morgantown but lived in Germany in the early 70’s – my dad, a WVU grad, was in the army. I think Jerry was a freshman when my dad was a senior. I used to get up around 3:00 am in Germany to listen to the Lakers play the Mil Bucks in the NBA finals. They would always start the program with a radio clip – “Inbounds pass to West, 20 foot jump shot – GOOD”! Great childhood memories. Love the Logo!

I know it sounds pretty ignorant but since I couldn’t remember I assumed this was the silhouette of Michael Jordan. How very womanly of me, right? Imagine my embarrassment and reluctance to accept the truth. :)

I’ve always understood it to be Bob Cousey. Of course, it’s in the NBA’s best interest that it’s nobody, rights-wise.

@nathan, you would be right except for one very big detail — you missed Bob Cousy was a righty and couldn’t dribble with his left. It’s West, and it was confirmed by the person who created the damn thing. That is who the quote up above came from.

Google Bob Cousy and you will find half a dozen pictures of him dribbling with his left in two seconds. You think a hall of fame point guard couldn’t dribble with both hands?

When he tried to dribble with his left he would quickly switch back to the right. Couldn’t dribble or go left. Fact.

Just Googled Cousy. One pic of him trying to dribble with his left hand. He clearly can’t do it because the ball comes over his shoulder. LOL. Palming violation.

Bob Cousy broke his right hand in high-school which forced him to effectively play with his left for two months.

He was supposed to be one of the most ambidextrous dribblers in the NBA at the time.

I am a tennis fan. The ATP (pro tennis governing body) had a similar logo for most of the 1980s. It portrayed the server in motion though “who” it was was not discernible. It was every bit as fluid, vertical and elegant as this Jerry West logo. Since then, they’ve screwed it up by having two replacement logos in the past 20yrs or so. Neither was as striking and effective as the original ATP logo, and that was inspired by the NBA one. This is a masterpiece of sports branding that should never be changed.

I remember watching TV and when the games would come on the picture of Jerry West would convert to the NBA logo. It is a great logo but so is the Michael Jordan one. Give Mr West his props.

This logo has one graphic design “no-no” – either place it on the edge or get it away from the edge. The bent arm is too close to the edge. It draws attention to it.

I don’t understand how the designers themselves can say that it “IS” Jerry West. I mean clearly the image is not an exact replica. I understand saying the image was inspiration since it was the only one they found that they drew from, but there are several notable differences between the two images therefore you can’t really say the NBA logo IS Jerry West because the NBA logo is not the position West was captured in. Moreover, I’m pretty sure West is not the only basketball player in history to have dribbled in such a position. I wish I could upload photos as part of my comment because in high school game the local paper captured me in a similar position on a drive to the basket. While the image served as inspiration, the logo is really emblematic of thousands of players, not West himself.

The logo is obviously Dolph Schayes and look how he lost his arm, coincidence? I think not. They would only change the logo to avoid paying the Schayes family royalties. That would put the Schayes over. And that would be a BIG problem. Think I’m joking? I’m not.

Imagine how much money the NBA would make if it was Jordan. I’m sure a whole lot more.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Done and done. That’s another thing that pisses me off nowadays. Jerry West was an outstanding player and paved the road for the players of today. And by the way there wasn’t a three point line when West was playing and a majority of his shots came from that range. So if there had been a three point line then his points record would be way more than what he earned without it.

I find it rather peculiar that a sport continuously dominated by men of color that Jerry West was the choice for the NBA logo. With all due respect to Mr West, he is never in the conversation amongst true basketball aficionados of greatest of all time. What player has had the greatest global impact, earned the most revenue for the NBA and sits at the very top of the list as the greatest ever by common fans and analysts alike… there’s your player for the NBA logo.

Very, very well-stated. And don’t get me started on Babe Ruth, who never faced a batter or pitcher of colour.

Robert Cunningham, your comment shows your limited knowledge of the history of the NBA. Although its true, for the most part that the NBA has been dominated by African Americans, Jerry West is unequivocally still one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He had one of the most deadliest jump shots the game has seen, very athletic, could score from anywhere including long distance (and there were no 3 point shots back then) and was a great defender. With the exception of Kobe Bryant (20 years in the NBA), Jerry West (14 years in the NBA) scored more points than any other Laker in history and is 8th on the list of the top 10 scorers in playoff history. I don’t know who you consider basketball aficionados but I have heard many basketball analysts mention Jerry West when talking about some of the greatest guards/players in NBA history and many of them believe he would be an allstar today and anybody that really knows the game knows that’s an accurate statement. You should know what you’re talking about before you make comments that will make you sound ignorant.

Amen! Real followers of the sport, and people old enough to really have seen Jerry West know how good he was. I was born in 1965, and my dad and uncle’s were all popular athletes in the Bay Area in the 60’s and 70’s, and not one of them would ever say Jerry wasn’t worthy of accolades. Even Richard Pryor on his album, “Craps” gave Jerry props. Somebody needs to do their homework. My mother will tell you how bad Jerry West would be doing cats back then.

Hugh, I will not resort to personal attacks, they only go to show ones inability to make sound arguments on the subject at hand. I stated facts. I never said he wasn’t ONE of the greatest to play the game. I said no one speaks of him as the greatest ever. To further make my point, Jerry West HIMSELF said in an interview with the Huffington Post that Michael Jordan’s likeness should be the NBA’s logo. “I hate to say it’s not a Laker, but Michael Jordan,” West told HuffPost Live’s Jordan Schultz.
“He’s been the greatest player I’ve ever seen. And I’m probably a harsh judge of talent in the sense that I admire players that are really good defensive players and really good offensive players. And I felt that at his time in the game, he was the best defensive player in the game, but more importantly he was the best offensive player. And he made his teams win.

Robert, I agree that Michael Jordan is the greatest player in the history of the NBA but that does not necessarily mean that the logo should be changed. That logo is not just about Jerry West, it exemplifies Professional Basketball in a very simplistic, yet elegant manner. As far as the comments that Jerry West made of the issue, of course he does not mind if the logo was changed. He’s a very humble man and he actually has stated many times that he feels uncomfortable when the spotlight is on him. Just as West wouldn’t have a problem with the logo being changed, Jordan doesn’t have a problem with the logo remaining the same. Jordan was once asked if he could play against any player from any era, who would it be…..his answer was Jerry West.

Hugh, Jordan has SIX rings, turned the NBA into a MULTI billion dollar entity, was more than just the greatest…he brought life to the slam dunk contest, impacted ratings…NO ONE has meant more to the NBA. I looked all over for proof of Jordan wanting to play against Jerry West. I really couldn’t find it. Leads me to believe it was never said. Jerry West isn’t even the best Laker of all time. There’s Kobe, Magic…

I live in Chicago and remember when the Bulls were winning championships and I do remember Jordan saying he wishes he could go against West one on one. I don’t have a problem with West being the logo and I’m a 63 year old black guy. I loved West and his game. Also the GOAT is Russell. 11 NBA titles, 2 NCAA titles and 1 Olympic title in 15 years. I don’t care what era you’re playing in, no one can come close to that. But the best player ever pound for pound is the “Big O”. And if I was starting out a new NBA franchise and could pick any player in basketball history I would select Kareem.

Magic/Bird, Lakers/Celtics of the 80’s is what helped turn the NBA into what it is. If that era didn’t happen, the NBA is nothing. Jordan is given far too much credit, and the 90’s was a watered down era.

Bill Russell had 11, now that’s amazing. But Jerry West was the only finals MVP who didn’t win the championship.

I’m well aware that Jordan has six rings. Bill Russell won 11 rings in 13 years, including 8 in a row but he played at a time when the media wasn’t nearly as strong. Jordan’s comment about West was definitely made. The comment was made many years ago so if I remembered the source, I would of given it to you. It might be in Jordan’s biography, can’t remember the title of the book. As far as bringing life to the slam dunk contest, if it wasn’t for Dr. J, Jordan would of never had that opportunity. As far no player has meant more to the NBA than Jordan, I can say the same thing about Magic Johnson and Larry Bird because they are the ones that truly brought the NBA back to life and gave players like Michael Jordan the opportunity to take it to the next level as far as ratings are concerned.

We aren’t talking about Bill’s rings. We are comparing West and Jordan. West has ONE to his name. He had the most dominant center to play the game in Wilt to boot. Pulling a supposed quote and not “remembering” where you read it is YOUR problem. Not mine at all sir. Mr. West has said on NUMEROUS occasion that KOBE is the best Laker of all time.

By the way Robert, Jerry West is still the only player in NBA history to be the MVP in the finals on a losing team. The Celtics simply had too many weapons. West was in the finals 9 times and only won once. Championship rings matter, but greatness is not measured by how many rings you have.

By the way, they changed the rules because of the Dipper.
Wilt Chamberlain led to a number of rules changes in the NBA. (1) Like Russell, he caused the lane to be widened — and this time the NBA lane. His height/reach combo with his finger-roll ability was devastating, and by forcing him to start farther from the hoop, this was negated a bit. (2) Offensive goaltending, which Russell had gotten banned in the NCAA according to most sources, Chamberlain got banned in the NBA. (3) Chamberlain is also credited with rule changes regarding inbounding the ball (4) Perhaps most famously, a notoriously bad free-throw shooter (.511 lifetime), Wilt tried for a period a move where he’d leap from behind the free-throw line and release the ball after, attempting to improve his accuracy. He was not very successful with this, but the rule was changed anyway, requiring players to release the ball from behind the line.
Wilt is in the conversation of most dominant. No one mentions Jerry West in that regard.

I’m aware of all the statistics you’re mentioning… they have nothing to do with the original issue. I mentioned Russell’s rings simply because you had stated that Michael has 6 rings… that’s obvious but that’s not a good reason to change the logo. As I said before, if the logo was going to be changed, Magic, Bird and Dr J would be a more worthy candidate because without them, Jordan would of not had the same opportunities that he had. If Wilt had the heart and drive of Jerry West, West and Wilt would of had many more rings, and of course if Wilt would of been on the Lakers earlier, they both would have had more rings. Jordan’s comment about West was definitely made. Read Jordan’s book entitled “Rebound” and you will find it.

It’s funny how you ask me to do research but you don’t know what the stats were when Wilt and West won the championship together. Who was the MVP? But Wilt didn’t have heart? West is technically Mr. Failure. He got to the post season umpteen times and has one ring to show for it. Nine times in his 14 seasons West’s Lakers made the finals: They lost eight, the first six times to the Celtics. He got his only NBA title in the Lakers’ 1971-72 season. Without Chamberlain he would have ZERO rings.

Robert, sorry, but rings have nothing to do with an individual players greatness. Do you not understand that basketball is a team sport? Jerry West was an amazing player, but the Celtics had multiple HOF players. That doesn’t negate how great West was and being the ONLY finals MVP in a losing effort, against a clearly superior TEAM say a whole hell of a lot about the greatness of The Logo . Your view of Basketball is entirely too simplistic. If rings = greatness, Jordan is NOT #1. If it’s stats, Jordan isn’t a clear #1 either (Kareem can go toe to toe EASILY and, all stats considered, Kareem is likely objectively better).

I do know what the stats were when they won together and I know that Wilt was the MVP. I also know that Gail Goodrich averaged more points than any other Laker that year. If you would of read my previous comments, you would have known that I already mentioned that West was in the finals nine times and and only won once. I also know that this has NOTHING to do with the NBA logo issue. AS I SAID BEFORE, MAGIC, BIRD AND DR. J WOULD BE MORE WORTHY CANDIDATES THAN JORDAN BECAUSE WITHOUT THEM, HE WOULD NOT OF HAD THE SAME OPPORTUNITIES HE HAD. ALSO, AS I SAID IN MY PREVIOUS COMMENTS, READ JORDAN’S BOOK “REBOUND” AND YOU WILL FIND PROOF THAT JORDAN DID IN FACT MENTION THAT THE FIRST PLAYER HE CHOSE TO PLAY AGAINST FROM ANY ERA WAS JERRY WEST.

Typing entire sentences in upper case letters doesn’t make your weak points any stronger. Jordan is the ultimate competitor, so if he said that, it was to prove West would be another victim. You lost credibility when you stated Wilt had no heart. You started off insulting me and ended by disrespecting Wilt Chamberlain.

I typed in upper case to make sure you could read my sentences because you were constantly repeating things that I had said in my previous comments. I’ll say it yet again, read the book “Rebound” and you will find that when Jordan made that comment, it meant nothing but praise for West and that Jordan likes great challenges and it did not mean that Jordan wanted to prove that West would be another victim. I did not disrespect Wilt, (although you’re constantly disrespecting West), I never said Wilt had no heart (go back and read what I said), I simply said that he did not have the heart and drive that West had and anyone that knows the history of the game knows that is an accurate statement. Jerry West was also the ultimate competitor. I’ve heard analysts compare Jerry West to Michael Jordan. Obviously, he does not have the size or athletic ability that Jordan or Kobe had but he was absolutely an equal when it comes to the clutch and being an ultimate competitor.

Wilt didn’t have the heart and drive West had but revolutionized the game. West says Kobe is the best Laker ever, but you are still riding Jerry’s jock strap. West admits he shouldn’t be the logo.

Wilt revolutionized the game because of his dominance. Has nothing to do with who has more heart.

You can’t dominate on size and strength alone. Ask Dwight Howard. It takes heart. You don’t score 100 points simply because you’re big. West knows he doesn’t belong… offered to suggest the best choice because he knows.

You clearly know nothing about Jerry West. He’s a very humble man and the article even has his quote about not wanting the spotlight. Anything he says has to take that into account. Because of that fact it doesn’t matter who West says should be the logo, Jordan is NOT the logo (and never will be) while Jerry West IS.

Just happened to see all these posts about my childhood hero, Jerry West. Was a very special player along with all others you folks are fighting about.

But where is Kareem in this conversation? 6x NBA champion, 3x NCAA champion. On a freshman team at UCLA that beat the national champion varsity. All time leading scorer, NBA.

Look at stats for 71 & 72… as dominating as any player in history.

You lose in the finals 8 times and win one. All-time great! I’m a Laker fan and a fan of Jerry. But all year I heard on the sports shows that if LeBron had went 2-4 it would destroy his legacy. I’m confused.

Good point Mark, doesn’t seem fair to me either. My guess is maybe the fact that he left Cleveland and then came back. Personally, I don’t think his would of been destroyed if he had went 2 & 4 but it certainly wouldn’t of helped it.

It’s really a non-issue. It’s CLEARLY West. Anyone that doesn’t like it doesn’t truly have any respect for basketball or it’s history — see Robert Cunningham’s comment about men of color in his attempt to say that only black players are good players… LOL!

Of course, with today’s ADD-crowd of sports fan for a league hyped up COMPLETELY with individual “superstars”, I’m sure the logo will be replaced at some point. But then again, who will really care all that much by that time for the #3/#4 pro sports league in the USA.

No, Westsidebill…I didn’t “attempt” anything. I articulated my case as to why Jordan should be the logo with a sound logical argument and facts. There have been plenty of great caucasian players. Bird, Pistol Pete, Nash, etc… It just strikes me as funny when you go against the bs, you only think black players are good.

Westsidebill, what Robert Cunningham fails to realize is that the Logo is not about who is the greatest Nba basketball player of all time or what Nba player brought in the most money….its much more than that.

I grew up in the Era of Wilt and West (I am 68 and from NYC). I have only one statement: Jerry West is the very best clutch player that ever played basketball. Even if he wasn’t the logo model.

I think Sam Jones was a slightly better clutch player than Jerry West. I give West his due. He intercepted a pass by Bob Cousy and won a game for the Lakers in ’62. And he hit that long 3 quarter shot in the 1970 playoffs against the Knicks to send the game into OT. But in that same game he missed all of this shots in OT. In the 7th game of that series against NY he had a horriable game. Walt Frazier ate him up.

In the 7th game of the ’69 finals against Boston he couldn’t hit a shot in the last 2 minutes and had a key turn over.
In a game in the ’68 finals against Boston he committed a very costly double dribble in a crucial time of the game. I remember the announcer Chris Schenkle remarking how even a great like West could make mistakes. I loved Jerry West. He’s one of my all time favorites and he was Mr. Clutch. But not in the last seconds of the 7th game in the finals. He would either miss the shot or more likely commit a turnover.

I grew up being a huge N.Y. Knicks fan and my favorite player was Walt (Clyde) Frazier. Whenever we played the Lakers, Jerry West was a killer. He and Frazier were a great match up and I remember Jerry West as a deadly outside shooter, even against the great defense of Clyde.

Iconic logo. Unmistakable. Does what it is supposed to do, and has stood the test of time. If it was taken from that image of Jerry “the logo” West (above), then why does the NBA logo have the right ear? Artist’s impression? Or maybe added so no royalties would have to be paid? Although I am unsure of the legalities surrounding such an issue back in 1969.

Regarding Jerry West… I used to listen to the Warriors with the inimitable Bill King doing the play-by-play. I can remember several times over those years playing the Lakers when games would come down to the wire. Before the decisive play — which invariably went to West — King would basically declare the game over because of West’s uncanny ability to come through in the clutch. And King was never wrong.

West had a great, great jump shot, and I never saw him miss a last shot when the game was on the line. Never.

Check out the end of the 7th game of the ’69 finals. He (West) couldn’t hit a shot at the very end. And as usual he committed a turnover close to the end of the game.

Here is my look on things:
The NBA as far as I know is not looking to change the logo.
It doesn’t matter if you think someone else should be the logo.
The logo is iconic and has stood the test of time and could be any player.
If the logo changed would you want an iconic player or just a general one everyone could look at and see all players not just the ones that put up the points. Because all players matter not just the high scoring ones.

No one at the time had the game West had. He was known for that offensive move nobody did it better. NBA always promotes their superstars. If NBA created a logo today it would be MJ or LeBron.

On a pregame radio show in the late 80’s this would be between 1986-1989, maybe 1990. Chick Hearn who was the announcer for the Laker team confirmed that the NBA Logo was indeed the image of Jerry West in response to a caller’s question. I remember because my father always told us that he thought the logo image was Jerry West, he had watched him for his entire career, he lived basketball. When the answer was given dad kept saying “I knew it, I knew it, I told you guys that” which he had always said he was sure it was Jerry West. I’d think with all of the years that Chick Hearn was with the Laker organization he would have known if the image was or was not Jerry West.

It does not make any sense to necessarily create the logo from the image of the “best” player, when the “best” player is entirely subjective, but, equally important, changes from year to year anyway. It is not even clear the logo should contain any image of a person – it could just be a ball or a hoop or… whatever the logo artist has in mind.

On a more objective note, I am constantly disappointed in the simple minded algorithm that rates individual players in team sports primarily by how many championships their TEAM won. It is a team game and a better team will almost always defeat an inferior team even if the best player is on the weaker team.

For one quick example, look at the Buffalo Bills losing 4 consecutive Super Bowls. The winning QBs were: Jeff Hostetler, Mark Rypien, and twice Troy Aikman. Does this mean Jim Kelly is inferior to all the above? Of course not. Only Troy Aikman is close (and his all time passer rating is 54th while Kelly’s is 37th).

So the argument that Michael Jordan is “better” than Jerry West because of, or largely because of, his 6 rings vs. Jerry’s 1 is nonsensical. Especially so when you look at how close many of those series were, and even Boston players will tell you they got some fortunate breaks (Don Nelson’s shot off the back rim AFTER Keith Erickson knocked the ball away from Havlicek, and had a clear path down court for an easy layup which usually results from that play; Sam Jones’ winning hoist in Boston that hit every part of the rim before sinking through with no time on the clock; Baylor being called out of bounds at the Garden with seconds on the clock; there are so many where luck or fate was a big part). Clearly, the Celtics deserved most of those championships, and just as clearly the Lakers got some terrible breaks that easily could have given them one or two.

Even more clearly, Jerry West did just about everything a human being can do in many of those games, even winning the MVP while being on the losing team. Listen to the Celtics after the last series in 1969 – Red Auerbach in particular (Bill Russell just held his hand and couldn’t find words, but his meaning was clear).

There is of course a strong case for MJ as GOAT, but that has to do with his individual talents. But don’t forget the 3 point shot spread the court and opened up lanes for drives that didn’t exist in West’s day. Furthermore, if a modern game were officiated by refs from West’s day, the score (assuming the players did not adjust, which of course in real life they would) would be 0-0 with 200 turnovers from palming and travelling.

To get a quick read on just how incredible West was on DEFENSE, go to Youtube and watch NBA All Star highlights from 1972 game. There is a span where West is like a man among boys, either stealing or deflecting almost every pass – and this is from all stars like Frazier and Havlicek! They did not keep steal stats during West’s career, but according to the stat men of the day, West would be the all time leader by a wide margin.

Oh, and I should also mention that West didn’t just steal or deflect almost every pass from All Star players, he also blocked several shots, another stat that wasn’t documented during his day. He would be the all time leader among guards for that stat too.

As an aside, the announcer (Keith Jackson, I think) didn’t even see or acknowledge some of the blocks and steals West got because they were so unexpected. “Frazier gets the ball knocked away….or Hudson loses the ball” were West blocks or deflections that Jackson didn’t pick up exactly why the ball went the way it did.

That slyness, quickness, and deception, along with West’s notorious deflection of the limelight and credit, are reasons why, as great as he was, he is under rated. He is looked at primarily as a jump shooter because he was so great at it, and it was easy to see.

One uninformed poster previously called him a one-handed dribbler. Just watch the game winning shot in that 72 all star game (or thousands of other clips) where West went left much of time on his way to the game winning shot against the 2nd best defensive guard in the game, Walt Frazier.

I get so fed up with the simple analysis used to contradict the very essence of why just about every team adds any player. They add the player to win! Isn’t that obvious? We act as if we are making effective arguments by saying Robert Horst having 7 titles negates bill Russell winning 11 titles. That’s, pardoning my French, “dumb”.

While winning rings may not be the only criteria for evaluating a players value it clearly is the most important. If not what is? Leading the league in assists? Stealing a ball in the all star game? Hitting a half court shot? Clearly ownership and the players are trying to win. Would Lebron have been happier if he scored 6 less points and got 5 less rebounds if he would have won? Of course!

As far as Russell compared to West; clearly West is not in his league. You don’t win 11 out of 13 years, two college championships (55 game winning streak at the university of San Francisco) and win 5 mvps (the record until Kareem almost 20 years later and the same amount as Jordan has). Can you imagine if Jordan won the title 11 times, or Lebron (who has one less MVP)? By the way, when Russell was losing the MVP he was losing to guys who were averaging triple doubles or a guy averaging close to 30 points and pulling in 20 rebounds, and one year doing it while leading the league in assists and winning the championship with the best record ever. That is a little harder than beating out Derick Rose, Steve Nash and Kevin Durant.

So back to West, he played with Baylor, Chamberlain and Wilt, and Russell still beat them all. West won when Russell left and he had to get Wilt on his team (one year with West, Wilt shot 72% from the field and led the league in rebounds and probably blocks). Even with Wilt, Baylor or Goodrich, West never won two, much less two in a row even when Bill left. Bill only had one season he did not make the finals (one). That is when he lost to a Philly team that broke the win record with Wilt (Russell comes back and beats them the following year, had also beat them the prior year).

Now, you say it is a team game, and you are right, but the greatest players get the most out of their team. If you carve out Bill Russell’s championship years from Celtic lore, in the almost 50 years since he retired, they have won 6 titles (with Havlicheck, Cowens, Archibald, Bird, Parrish Mchale, Garnett, Pierce, Rondo, and Allen). With him they won 11 in 13 years. They won twice as many in 13 years as they won in close to 50. Prior to Russell with Auerbach and Cousy they won zero. The Celtics are known for their winning tradition (that is due to Bill Russell). One player doesn’t make a difference? Winning is not important?

In West’s case they had one of their biggest championship lull periods during his time.

They won 5 with Mikan. 5 with Kareem and Magic. 3 with Kobe and Shaq. Two with Kobe and Gasol. The lakers won one with West. West was out there close to 13 years, couldn’t win. Wilt who had already won with Philly (with the best record in league history at the time) comes over and within 3 years they win with West (Wilt’s team breaking the win record again).

Wins are the most important variable by far, not the only. Clearly it is not close between West and Russell, Jordan, Kareem, Bird, Duncan, Magic, Shaq, Lebron, etc.

The logo was created in 1969 by a designer and former high school basketball star named Alan Siegel, who told the Los Angeles Times in 2010 that none of the “40 or 50 designs” he showed Kennedy featured anyone other than West. A childhood friend of the legendary sports reporter Dick Schaap, Siegel was allowed access to Sport magazine’s photo archives and found what he wanted in a photo by Wen Roberts.

I know this is ancient history, but I keep hearing George Long’s name mentioned regarding the photo. Any thoughts?

“It had a nice flavor to it,” Siegel told the Times, “so I took that picture, and we traced it. It was perfect. It was vertical and it had a sense of movement. It was just one of those things that clicked.”

A logo is supposed to be iconography depicting what the ‘thing’ is about. Basketball was, is, and always will be about putting the ball on the floor. All action before and after is superfluous. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s Bob or Jerry, the action and anticipation captured in the image is perfect in that regard, and will continue to be representative of what basketball is all about.

My claim to basketball fame is that I personally guarded Jerry West (the logo) in two college games in 1960. In the most notable one, Jan 30th in Norfolk, we beat Jerry’s WVa team 94-86. Jerry got 42, I got 2. We both fouled out late.

It’s simple, the greed does not want to pay West. They make 3 billion, not million, billion dollars a year off the logo, and they won’t pay the man? It’s about money, nothing else. Why not pay? It’s not like they can’t afford it. Pay the man and stop being greedy.

If the NBA changes the logo it should be LeBron. He’s the pinnacle of what an NBA player should aspire to be. Good character, best player, excellent businessman.

Who cares what player it is? Could be Fidel Castro on a semi-pro team in Havana right after his high school graduation. Doesn’t matter. Change the logo to a net, backboard, and a ball heading for the hoop. Then you guys can all argue over which ARENA it represents!

Which player is on the Major League Baseball logo? Look up the answer. It’s not based on any one player. Based on a COMPILATION of various left-handed batters.

It’s amusing to read all these arguments, albeit good points, on who the logo represents or should represent when the fact is, the NBA doesn’t officially acknowledge that its logo is a silhouette of Jerry West. It’s a silhouette, hence has everything in black. There are no features to positively identify who it’s based on. And that’s deliberate because as mentioned in the post, its aim is to institutionalize not individualize the brand and sport.

So all your arguments about whose silhouette it actually is or whose image deserves it more, are pointless. All I know is that it’s an iconic logo that I love and that has stood the test of time. There’s no need for it to be changed or any indication that it will be anytime soon. It has aged gracefully and represents the NBA perfectly. Unofficially, it seems like it was intended to be Jerry West’s silhouette and he was a great player so kudos to him. Even though I suspect that other factors were involved in using his perceived likeness, who cares. The absence of detail makes it a nonissue. Whereas if it clearly showed details like his race, Jersey, etc., then there’d be reasonable cause for this debate.

The first NBA game I ever watched on TV was a Laker’s game back in the day. Don’t remember who was the opposite team but Jerry was at the top of his game (mid to late 60’s) and I became a Lakers fan and a JW fan that day. That was until Kobe Bryant came along. Can’t stand that sucker. Whether that is Jerry’s image or not, it shouldn’t be tampered with. You look at that image and even the less basketball savvy person knows what it represents.

Growing up a Lakers fan and seeing Jerry West play was a basketball highlight of everyone who was watching. If you weren’t there you have no idea how exciting basketball was back then. It has always been the popular idea it was Jerry’s silhouette. It was a great era for the beginning of televised games. The logo has endured over 40 years and will always endure as an American icon.

Kobe just died unexpectedly in a horrific helicopter crash, and fans everywhere are petitioning to make him the new logo. I don’t have any huge opinion on this, but I love reading the analysis all of you have put into each candidate for a new design. Do all your opinions still stand? Should Kobe be considered?

No Kobe should not be the logo. Yes, it is tragic that he died but that doesn’t make him deserving of the logo any more than MJ, Kareem, or Bill Russel, who were all more accomplished players. You can’t just change it every time someone important dies, especially someone so recent.

Jerry West is not the greatest player ever and an argument could be made that someone else deserves it more. I’m not going to necessarily disagree, but I just don’t think it needs to be changed. West’s humble attitude may cause him to shy away from the attention, but he represented an obsessive will to win and a pure talent on both offense and defense that is rivaled by few. He is 2nd only to Jordan in PPG in the playoffs over his career, 4th to only Kareem, Wilt and MJ in terms of career PPG, was an All-Star every year of his career, all-Defense team every year after it was established, he led the league in scoring once, in assists once, he averaged 46.3 PPG in a playoff series (the most ever) and 30+ PPG in several different Finals series including a 38 PPG 1969 series where he had a 53 point game and a 42 point triple double game 7. He went to 2 more finals than Kobe in 6 less years and only lost many of them because the team he faced had 8 HOF players on it over the course of their dynasty.

Yes, he wasn’t as winning of a player as many other stars but he was the GM largely responsible for creating the Showtime Lakers in the 80s, the Kobe-Shaq/Gasol Lakers of the 2000s and the Warriors super team, and he’s still going with the Clippers who are sure to be one of the best teams in the league this year. His impact on basketball is huge beyond his poor finals record, and if not for him Kobe might never have even gotten to become the star that we know him as today. Jordan’s brand is already enormous, Russell has the Finals MVP trophy, so if you have to change the logo to anyone I would pick Kareem’s skyhook, but personally I don’t think it needs to change at all. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do and it has for 50+ years.

I am a 79 year old Irish-German American male. Having a white human figure, whether it is or is not Jerry West, to represent the NBA on it’s logo, is like having a black human figure on the logo that represents NASCAR, Tennis or Golf. Stupid. Remove humans from the logo or represent a white and a black player on the logo. Or, closer to reality, a black player alone. Wouldn’t bother me at all. If I read between the lines correctly, it wouldn’t bother Jerry West either.

I’ve never seen so many angry men comment on one topic with such a racial undertone. It’s Jerry West, get over it and it’s not going to change. He didn’t own any slaves btw. PS. I’m a 64 year old black man.

Really, after all this analysis, the truth of the matter is that when the guy who was selected to do the logo picked Jerry West’s picture, he made a good choice. How great Jerry West was, as compared to anyone else’s greatness is not even what was considered when the picture was chosen, if all that stuff all you guys have pointed out were the factors that prompted his picture to be used, then it probably wouldn’t have been used. In short, Jerry West has represented the NBA very well, and he is; the logo!

Maybe the NBA should make 20 or 30 versions of the logo, using 20 or 30 iconic players, and rotate them annually. But that might be confusing. So maybe they should keep what they have. It does show movement and grace. It has done a great job promoting the NBA. Or, maybe they should have a contest. Ask people to draw a universal basketball player, and switch from one single iconic player, to a symbolic player; like the ancient Greeks, who used ‘perfect’ forms in their statues, regardless who was being idealized.

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