The story behind Jerry West NBA logo
Is the NBA logo modelled after Jerry West, a great player from the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1960s and 1970s?
Jerry West NBA logo is a symbol of honour for one of the greatest basketball, Jerry West. The man who could be seen in the NBA logo is considered to be one of the greatest Los Angeles Lakers players of all time. Some fans even have him over Kobe Bryant in their list. The legendary guard standing 6’2″ led the Lakers to the NBA Finals nine times, and was elected NBA All Star every year during his 14-year career.
Popularly called ‘Mr. Clutch’, no one in the history of NBA has justified a nickname batter then West, a Hall of Famer and one of the 50 best NBA players ever to play the game. He had an unstinting will to win and he was a great defender, who never shied away in hustle moments and was always ready to sacrifice his body.
In his nine-year run to the NBA finals, Jerry only won the championship once, in 1972, but his stats and numbers add more spark to his resume than his lone championship. The only losing team player selected as NBA finals MVP in 1969, he was selected to the All NBA First Team in 1962-67 and 1970-73, the All NBA Second Team in 1968-1969) and the All NBA Defensive Team in 1970-1973. He was also an Olympics gold medallist (1960).
Jerry West accumulated 25,192 points and 6238 assists and 5.366 rebounds in his career. In 2008, ESPN voted Jerry as the third greatest shooting guard of all time in the NBA.
But these numbers still don’t do enough to describe his impact on the NBA and his efforts and work ethic which changed the scenario of the league and made it what it is today. He was the poster boy of sportsmanship and heart in his era. And maybe that is the reason why he is featured in the logo of the NBA.
A left-handed dribbling West’s silhouette serves as the NBA logo.
Of course, many fans argue why Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson or Larry Bird are not featured on the logo. Why Jerry West?
It’s worth pointing out here that the NBA tends to shy away from confirming that the logo is modelled after Jerry, though they do not even deny it altogether. The logo was unveiled in the 1969-1970 season to give the NBA a new global outlook. At that time, Jordan, Bird, Magic and even Kareem were not even heard of. The logo became the identity of the NBA, which at that time had stiff competition from the ABA, another private organisation.
It has now been over 40 years since the icon was first unveiled, and there is no reason to change it or alter it to reflect some other great of the game (like Jordan, for instance). No one denies Jordan to be the greatest ever to play the game. That said, in my opinion Jordan did not have the kind of global impact that Jerry West did.
The designer of the logo Alan Seigel admits that the logo was modelled after the photograph of the All Star guard that he found inspirational and dynamic; besides, it was vertically aligned and showcased the essence of the game.
The NBA office, however, does not want to personalize their global icon to any player in particular, and so the official version remains that the logo is NOT modelled after West, even though the informed know better.