Why is Jerry West the NBA logo?

Jerry West of the LA Lakers in the 1969 NBA Finals
Jerry West of the LA Lakers in the 1969 NBA Finals

The NBA logo is one of the most iconic logos in major sports. The image of a player dribbling the ball between the standard blue and red colors of the league stands out among the logos of other major sporting leagues. Although the league has existed since 1946, the current NBA logo was adopted in 1969 and has been the same since then. It is adapted from a photo of LA Lakers legend Jerry West. He is considered by many to be one of the best finals performers in NBA history.

Who selected Jerry West to be the NBA's logo?

Jerry West at an NBA game between Clippers and Warriors
Jerry West at an NBA game between Clippers and Warriors

In 1969, the NBA selected Alan Siegel to design the new NBA logo. Siegel had worked towards the making of the MLB (Major League Baseball) logo and the NBA wished that he would do the same for them. He has also designed logos for Dell, IBM, 3M, Girl Scouts, the US Air Force and several other iconic brands. Siegel is considered to be a guru in marketing and advertising.

Siegel started digging through thousands of archives to find the perfect logo. In 1969, the face of the NBA was Bill Russell, who had just come off winning 11 NBA championships. However, Siegel didn't want to reward the best player since he knew this logo would exist long after the player was gone. He pored through the photographs and found Jerry West in an LA Lakers jersey and that was his final decision.

He chose West to be the logo, not because he was a superstar, but because he liked the image. Siegel said in a recent interview,

"It’s a really elegant, powerful presentation of basketball...It’s hard, graphically, to do something that static like this. To have tension in it, movement and grace. It’s very hard...It has to be simple. It has to be powerful. It has to be dynamic. This has all these elements."

He chose the logo based on simplicity and grace rather than fame and accolades of the player in question.

The league is now arguing whether the logo should be changed to Kobe Bryant. Jerry West himself has said that he doesn't mind if his silhouette is removed as the NBA logo.

Also Read: Why do the Atlanta Hawks have "MLK" written on their jerseys?

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Edited by Anantaajith Raghuraman