We are happy to introduce our new summer series which we will call the ‘Best and Worst Of’. Each week, our team of writers will vote on the best and worst of a variety of NBA topics. We will tally the votes from our 12 contributors and then assign one of our writers to explain what the hell we were thinking. We hope you enjoy and provide your own commentary and voting at the end of each segment.
This week, our focus is on the best and worst NBA logos. If we were to use all of the NBA logos dating back to 1946 when the NBA was inaugurated as a league, it would have taken our team days to figure out what logo we liked best. That is why Abdullah and I decided to limit the choices to the current team logos. With that said, our team voted and below are the completely unscientific, biased and opinionated choices of our team.
1. TORONTO RAPTORS – Coming in first place with 7 out of 12 votes. Was there any question that this was going to be somewhere in the Top 3 of worst logos? I’m proud of my team for appropriately identifying the NBA’s most cartoonish team representative and I feel bad for Raptors fans across the globe for all the merchandise that has the Jurrasic Park character on it. Think I’m being too harsh? I’m not. The discussion to have the ‘Raptors’ name changed is very much on the table with new management and I’d be shocked if three years from now we are still referring to the only team above the border as a dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur. With just about every other mascot or logo, you can identify or associate it to the game of basketball. In Toronto’s case, what the hell does a dinosaur have to do with basketball? Unfortunately there was no contingency plan in place when Chris Bosh took his prehistoric talents to South Beach and left the Raptors without their only tie between logo and team.
2. LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS – Coming in second place with 5 out of 12 votes. Remember when the Clippers were the laughing stock of the NBA, perennial visitors to the NBA lottery, winners of zero championships, conference and division titles – until that changed last year? The Clippers have pretty much had the same logo since 1984 with the exception of a new bolder letter C and a slightly turned basketball in the background. That is of course if you are not going to include the previous versions of the franchise, the San Diego Clippers and the Buffalo Braves, in which case we’d include this logo from 1970, this one from 1971-1978, and this one used from 1978-1982.
I digress though. I think the issue with the Clippers logo (which is extremely similar to the Lakers logo in usage of a basketball and lettering) is that the brand associated with it includes a lot of years of losing. This is a franchise with an all-time record of 1305 wins and 2175 losses, a winning percentage of .375, and 9 playoff appearances in 43 years. I don’t think the problem is necessarily in the logo but more so the correlation fans make between the Clippers and the game of basketball. When your team history includes stats like the ones above, and your draft history includes high misses like Michael Olowokandi, Benoit Benjamin, and Bo Kimble, in addition to the fact that the team owner comes across as cheap and a racist, the perception of the team and it’s logo is not going to be very high. The good news for the Clippers is that winning cures everything and with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and the addition of Doc Rivers as the man in charge it would appear that perceptions are about to change about this team and everything associated with it.
3. DETROIT PISTONS – Coming in third place with 5 out of 12 votes. I feel bad for dumping on the city of Detroit in light of recent events there but in regards to the city’s basketball logo it’s just too plain, it’s too boring and I know I’m not alone in my thinking. This, however, is not an indication, like the Wizards, of a team with a bad name. The thing about Pistons basketball is that it has a very good history of winning, championship basketball, memories of Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, the Bad Boys, starting Grant Hill’s hall of fame career and selecting Darko Milicic (featuring a lot of men kissing cheeks) over Carmelo Anthony. In my opinion, if you aren’t going to go with something completely different from the logo we all know best from the 80s like Detroit did in 1996 and 2001 then why change it at all? I actually believe that had Detroit kept the one from 2001 we probably wouldn’t even be talking about them in this segment but since they didn’t here we are. For me, bring back the logo used from 1979 to 1996 and for that matter the short shorts as well.
4. PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS – Coming in fourth place with 4 out of 12 votes. The one thing I’ll give credit to the Trailblazers for is the fact that this logo has stayed true to it’s old school roots albeit that I had no idea what it stood for until I Google’d it and found this from Danish’s History of NBA Logos:
“Harry Glickman’s cousin, Frank Glickman, of Boston, Massachusetts, designed the original logo, consisting of a straight up and down pinwheel with black on the top and red on the bottom. It’s meaning is simple: a modern graphic interpretation of the game of basketball, five players from one side playing against five players from another.”
So, now that we know what it means, why is it on this list? Honestly, I’m not really sure. There are probably about 10 other logos I’d have chosen before this one but since I must decipher my colleagues choice here I’d say it’s got two issues; first being that nobody prior to reading this had any idea what it stood for; the second being that it’s just too plain. The good news for Trailblazer fans is that I’m sure they probably don’t care what people outside of Portland, Oregon think. The fan base there is amazing, even coining the term Blazermania to describe their love for the team in the late 70s. They’ve had only short bad periods of support, the first four years of existence, and the brief period in the 2000s when they became the Jailblazers where none other than former Bullets GM John Nash was presiding over them.
For those wanting to pile on to the Trailblazers look no further than draft selection of LaRue Martin over Bob McAdoo, Greg Oden over Kevin Durant and of course Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan. However, this is a franchise with 1842 wins, a .530 winning percentage, three Conference titles and an NBA Championship, along with a player history that includes Clyde Drexler, Bill Walton, Terry Porter, Cliff Robinson and Buck Williams.
5. WASHINGTON WIZARDS – Coming in fifth place with 4 out of 12 votes. You knew this was going to be in the running right? This choice probably has as much to do with the name overall as it does the logo itself. I get where this was supposed to go – wizards with the basketball, playing a magical brand of hoops. It just never worked. Let’s go back in time and recall how we got here: In the spring of ’97, more than 2,000 nickname suggestions were gathered from fan submissions and narrowed down to five choices: The Dragons, The Express, The Stallions, The Sea Dogs, and The Wizards. The fan base didn’t even get a final tally, Abe Pollin simply announced that Wizards had beaten out the other choices.
Without getting all racial here, let me get this straight…the name was changed to get away from the link between bullets and gun violence in the Nations Capital but it was changed to a name that reflects the highest rank of a klan member? I’m sorry but you don’t get the benefit of the doubt of making a correlation between bullets and gun violence and then get a free pass on playing the word association game with Wizards. Even if the Washington never goes back to Bullets, at least change it to something we can associate to the District. Bullets was good enough for Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes, Moses and Jeff Malone, Muggsy and Manute and one NBA Championship, and should have been good enough to continue on as the team name. Now, thanks to a former Wizard who a mere five years ago may have been considered Top 5 all time players for the franchise, his legacy may now be that because of his stupidity we are magically stuck with Wizards for the foreseeable future.
We hope you enjoyed this week’s topic and look forward to your inputs below. Many thanks again to Cris Creamer’s Sports Logo Website which is a phenomenal source of logo knowledge for all sports, not just basketball.