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NBA Logo Round-Up, Part 1 of 3

Let’s get one thing straight right now: I’m not an artist. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been horrible at drawing, painting, sculpting—basically anything that involves artistic talent. In addition, grading something like team logos is always going to be a subjective endeavor; it’s like arguing about which band is better, Metallica or Van Halen. Everyone has their own opinion about what type of music they like, and everyone has their own opinion about what kind of logo is best. While most people can reach a consensus on some issues (eg. The Beatles are better than Ke$ha), there is always an issue of individual taste—I’m sure that Ke$ha’s most ardent followers like her music better than The Beatles’. So feel free to disagree with my thoughts, but remember: there are probably a lot of people out there who disagree with your thoughts too.


Atlanta Hawks

Logo since: 2007
Grade: B-

Atlanta has had essentially the same logo since 1995, but when the team switched color schemes from red and yellow to red, blue, and silver, they adapted the logo accordingly, making the hawk red and blue and the ball silver (they get points off for being unrealistic). I’m not a huge fan of the font, especially on the Hawks’ jerseys. It looks way too blocky, so the only jersey that actually looks good is their red alternate. All in all though, the Hawks logo isn’t trying to do too much, and certainly isn’t an eyesore. They could do better, but they could also do a lot worse. [Editor's Note: Bygone logo of note is their "Pac Man" head of the Dominique era.]


Boston Celtics

Logo since: 1995
Grade: A

Though the Celtics have used the leprechaun since 1950, it took them until 1978 to perfect it. Their logo from 1978-95 was essentially the same as today’s, except that one only included two colors, green and white. One other notable thing happened in 1978; Boston drafted a guy by the name of Larry Bird. So it’s no surprise that the logo most modern fans come to associate with the Celtics is the one that was introduced with one of their greatest-ever players. I have to say, I like the ’78-’95 version slightly better than today’s, but that’s not to say that the present logo is bad, just different. I think all the small details—the winking leprechaun, the crooked stick, the pipe, the ball balanced just so on the leprechaun’s finger—make for a high-quality logo. Combine that with the fact that the logo has come to be associated with greatness (even though this was the Celtics’ main logo for most of their dominance in the 1960s), and you get one of the NBA’s best and most recognizable logos.


Charlotte Bobcats

Logo since: 2007
Grade: C

While the Bobcats’ logo is certainly modern, the connection of the snarling Bobcat at the bottom with the Bobcats script makes for an awkwardly-shaped logo. Another reason (albeit unfair) that I don’t feel a big connection to this logo is the fact that the Bobcats have only been in existence since 2004, so they don’t have much of a tradition. Maybe this one will grow on me over time, but I don’t really have a particularly strong feeling about this logo, one way or the other. I’d like to feel at least some positive connection with a logo when I look at it, so that’s why Charlotte gets a C.


Chicago Bulls

Logo since: 1966
Grade: A-

Fun fact: If you turn the Bulls’ logo upside down, it looks like a robot reading a book while sitting on a bench. Looking at the right-side up version, there’s nothing wrong with this logo. It’s not flashy and doesn’t seek to draw attention to itself. To me, the understated greatness of this logo embodies Scottie Pippen, the Bulls’ second-best player ever, and the NBA’s model of understated greatness. This is the only logo the Bulls have ever had, and it might be the only one they ever need. It’s not particularly eye-catching, but it’s got attitude, and it’s still as relevant now as it was 45 years ago.


Cleveland Cavaliers

Logo since: 2010
Grade: B+

Yes, this logo is nearly identical to the one the Cavs used from 2003-2010. Change the yellow bits to gold, and you’ve got the exact same thing. It’s very interesting to note that the Cavs changed their logo and uniforms for LeBron’s first season, kept them the same throughout his seven-year tenure, and immediately switched them again once he left. I like the red and gold version better, but I don’t have any major complaints, and think that the current one is a lot better than any of their pre-LeBron logos. The sword through the C is a bit gimmicky, but overall not a bad-looking logo. [Editor's Note: Bygone logo of note is the broken mirror image from their blue and orange days.]


Dallas Mavericks

Logo since: 2001
Grade: C+

The name Dallas is too small and the word Mavericks is too smushed, but I think there are some good elements that prevent this logo from being a complete failure. The shield shape is nice, but isn’t integrated correctly, and I think the horse looks pretty cool. But the horse/basketball connection needs some work—I think the horse should be expanded a bit, at least enough to prevent its head/neck turning into two narrow semi-circles. After some tinkering, this logo could look pretty cool. [Editor's Note: Bygone logo of note is the cowboy hat from the pre-Cuban era.]


Denver Nuggets

Logo since: 2008
Grade: B-

Like most of these teams, Denver actually adopted the main template for this logo in 1993, but tinkered with it every so often to reach the current version. I actually think their alternate logos (2003-2008, 2005-present) are really good, especially the second one, but teams like to have their team name in the primary logo as much as possible, so neither are really that feasible. It’s a shame the NBA doesn’t operate like soccer, where each club has a crest on their jerseys, as I think that the Nuggets' current alternate logo would make a great one. As far as the official logo goes, not much to complain about, though the Nuggets font could be improved upon. [Editor's Note: Bygone logo of note is the crazy Rubik's Cube rainbow from the 80's.]


Detroit Pistons

Logo since: 2005
Grade: A

I like the simplicity of this logo. The font is good, it’s got all three of the Pistons’ colors in there, with the classic basketball backdrop. Also, the outlining looks professional, whether it’s on the letters or the ball itself. The Pistons’ court design is one of my favorites, and the main reason is because it’s got this—a perfect logo for midcourt—at the center of it. It’s an updated take on the older logos Detroit had from 1957-1996 (before the unfortunate flaming horse era).


Golden State Warriors

Logo since: 2010
Grade: A-

As an updated take on the cool "The City" logo the Warriors used from 1969-71, Golden State's current logo does a good job incorporating the Golden Gate Bridge, the most recognizable landmark in the Bay Area. I’d like to see a little more consistency between the upper and lower fonts (the lower one is bigger and bolder), but the simple image of the bridge makes for an appealing logo. A definite upgrade over Golden State’s previous logo (the intergalactic sentinel).


Houston Rockets

Logo since: 2003
Grade: B

I don’t know if it’s just that I don’t pay enough attention, but I only just now realized that the two sides of the R are supposed to be rockets, even though this logo has been around for eight years now. That said, I like the font, but the logo is a little too simple for me. I generally like to see more than just letters, even if they’re stylized in a cool font, and the Rockets’ logo is pretty much two words with a bigger, more elaborate letter in the middle. The center part makes for a fine alternate logo by itself, but why not try something a bit more creative for the primary logo? Overall, it’s not bad, but I’d like to see something with a bit more substance. [Editor's Note: Bygone logos of note include this monstrosity from the late-90's and the tennis ball with red shadow used during the '85 to '95 glory years.]


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    NBA Logo Round-Up, Part 1 of 3 - Behind the Basket - The Antidote for Conventional Wisdom
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Reader Comments (3)

It is so well known and accepted because of the team success but I am not really a fan of the leprechaun in the Celtics logo. The team name in the ring and the color of the uniforms are the strong features. There is probably many other designs I'd like better.

The Warriors logo is a cold boring dud to me as well. The Piston logo is really weak, even ugly. Putting a basketball in the logo is usually a waste or mistake. I can't see how the Cavs logo won over all others. But those are just my opinions and I don't really care about logos.

July 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

I don't get the the love for the new Pistons logo, it oh so very generic. Even has the league colors. And if you are going for something new (with a nod to the good one they should have just returned to in the first place) why sort of keep the old one in there by using its awful typography (with the lining AND shadow). Missed opportunity, the idea behind it was ok... Execution not so much.

And thats the Bay Bridge by the way, not the Golden Gate. Another new logo with awful typography.

July 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErdee

The Houston Rockets logo was changed when Yao Ming arrived...not mentioned is the Chinese script flair in the logo. Now that the Ming Dynasty has ended, I think it's time to change the logo....

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOJN

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