Thursday, September 30th, 2010 at 1:21 pm  |  23 responses

NBA Team Logo Changes

Teams divulge why they made changes to their logos.

by Kyle Stack / @KyleStack

There’s more that goes into changing a team logo than you might think. It seems that every season at least one NBA team alters its logo, even its uniforms, for branding purposes.

Five NBA franchises have changed the appearance of their logo this offseason, some more prominently than others. The Warriors made the biggest change by completely restructuring their color scheme and logo. The Magic, Cavaliers and Jazz refined logos already in use while the Clippers made merely a cosmetic change. (The Washington Wizards announced recently that they will wear different uniforms beginning with the ‘11-12 campaign.)

A talk with Christopher Arena, the NBA’s Vice President for Apparel, Sporting Goods & Basketball partnerships, revealed that teams have to file for a new logo two years ahead of when they want it to debut. There are over 300 NBA licensees globally and they each need a certain amount of time to prepare for the new designs, implement them into every item, manufacture it and ship it.

The NBA also works with teams on their designs at every stage. It’s a collaborative process because the teams do represent the League. It’s in the NBA’s best interest to ensure certain regulations are followed and that the team’s goals are met. Ultimately, the logo’s aesthetic qualities are driven by the team’s desires.

“They’re the ones who are managing their brand and have a vision for what they want,” Arena said.

There are a few prerequisites teams need to meet. “We do want to see the city name and the nickname in the primary logo,” Arena said. Exceptions do exist. The Wizards and Pacers don’t list their hometown in their primary logo but they feature it in their secondary versions. Arena pointed out that they want the city name in each logo to be visible enough that it’s readable on a polo shirt.

There’s also been a long-held belief (maybe among NBA logo nerds) that a basketball has to be represented in each team logo. Not exactly, Arena noted.

“I think the misnomer is that there is a rule that it has to be in the primary logo,” Arena said. “What we encourage is having a ball in your identity. That might be in your primary logo or that might be in your secondary logo.”

As much as the League and its official manufacturer, adidas, work with teams on their logos and uniforms, it’s ultimately up to each team how they want to determine their new look. A team’s logo is its identity, so it’s vital that it represents many areas of a team — its geographic region, its personality, its vision.

Let’s go through each team to discover the reasons behind their logo changes:

Golden State Warriors logoprimary_300x3292
The Warriors made perhaps the most drastic logo change of the five teams. As you’ll see with the Jazz and Cavaliers, their motive for change was based on exploring the rich history of their franchise.

Looking to capitalize on the popularity of the ’70s era The City uniforms they typically wore for the NBA’s Hardwood Classics program, the Warriors devised a modern twist for their classic threads. “We knew there was a time for a different look,” said Warriors president Robert Rowell of the change.

Given that the old City uniforms highlighted the Golden Gate Bridge, the new version of the City brings the Bay Area’s other notable bridge to the forefront.

“We felt that with the construction of the new Bay Bridge here connecting San Francisco to the East Bay, that it would be interesting to develop a logo around the new bridge span,” Rowell said.

The connection to the Bay Area is one which the Warriors felt needed to be enriched. The club is the only professional basketball team in the nation’s sixth-largest media market. Even though they’re located in Oakland, they still have a connotation with existing in San Francisco, where they played from 1962-71. Taking Golden State as their name, instead of Oakland, permits them to associate themselves with the Bay. “It was a unique opportunity to create a new brad to take into account that we represent all areas of this region,” Rowell said.

He conceded that people outside the Bay Area might confuse the Bay Area Bridge for the Golden Gate, since it’s the more well-known architectural symbol of that region. Time and a repeated message of the Bay Bridge will likely correct whatever confusion of the bridge exists.

Rowell also admitted the previous logo, which was introduced in 1997 with a Warrior-like figure holding a thunderbolt, didn’t mesh with the team’s style. “It wasn’t really representative of who we are, what we are and where we’re going,” he said.

So back to the old blue and yellow; the blue is the same shade as that of the old City uniforms. Other elements of the jersey, such as the number inside the logo, give it a retro feel.

While suspicion could arise that the Warriors made this move to coincide with new ownership, the two changes have no correlation. As stated by Arena earlier, teams need to apply for changes two years ahead of time. There was no way for the Warriors to know in 2008 that team ownership would change hands this past summer. The club actually wanted to unveil the new logo and uniforms last season. That wasn’t the only plan originally on the drawing board which didn’t come to fruition.

Like the Lakers further south in Los Angeles, the Warriors wanted to sport yellow jerseys at home on a full-time basis. Not so, said the NBA. “We weren’t allowed to do that,” Rowell said. “The Lakers are the only team that’s grandfathered into not having to wear white at home.”

Rowell emphasized that the new yellow jerseys could see the court at some point in the future. Meanwhile, their old yellow jerseys from their NBA championship season of ‘74-75 will be worn a “couple times” this season, according to Rowell.

As with every other team, the Warriors worked with the NBA and adidas throughout the two-year process. “It was a nice partnership between the three of us where we shared our ideas,” Rowell said. “At the same time, you’re very in-tune to what the manufacturer wants to do because they’re the ones that create it. They have the practicality issues they have to deal with.”

Fans might assume that teams make these changes as part of a team rejuvenation. All Rowell would say to that is when push comes to shove, all that matters is whether a team performs on the court. Everything else falls into place if wins are posted instead of losses. But either way, it pays off to look sharp on the court.

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  • Jacqueline Mitchell

    I really like the Golden State Warriors new look it,s fresh !!!

  • http://www.colorwerx.us ColorWerx

    One point of clarification – the new Utah Jazz colors are not the same as the original colors…there is no Purple in this new color scheme, it is in fact Navy.

  • http://www.colorwerx.us ColorWerx

    …waitaminute…the Clippers’ colors didn’t change either…they’re exact the same as they’ve been for the past 22 years or so. The only color change was a tiny of bit of Gray that was added to the new secondary logo.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Eboy

    I hope the Heat add devil horns and a pitchfork to theirs.



  • http://thephotoriot.com davidR

    i dunno, still not a fan of the actual jersey’s. dont think they look good on the players at all, and i’m not feeln the tiny number inside the logo either.
    as for the bay bridge, it’d be a great to dedicate it in the new logo. if we ever finish building it..

  • http://thephotoriot.com davidR

    *it’s a great idea to dedicate

  • Josh D

    Copper Plate font is simply just a bad match for the Warriours logo ;(

  • http://kb24.com Bigi

    The Miami Devils…New Jersey would like to have a work with you E…

  • http://www.slamonline.com Eboy

    Allright fine….let Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash be at the Heat’s first home game and spray paint a huge NWO over the Heat’s center court logo before tipoff. That would work.

  • http://thephotoriot.com davidR

    too. sweeeeeeeeeet!

  • http://thephotoriot.com davidR

    btw, on the topic of wrestling: eboy you seen those botchamania videos on youtube? theyre hilarious mixtapes of our favorite wrestlers messing up lines, spots, and moves.

  • JER Dawg

    “but the ball in the logo actually looks more like a real basketball now.”
    referring to Clippers. Well, THEY haven’t been PLAYING real Basketball for the longest time….

  • http://twitter.com/HarryByrdMan44 LA Huey

    When Eboy’s not getting revenge on everyone that has been making fun of the Heat the past few of seasons, he shares some great ideas. =)

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/san-dova-speak-easy/ San Dova

    Man, you’re reading my mind on this stuff! *Plans foiled* LOL

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/san-dova-speak-easy/ San Dova
  • http://slamonline.com Chris Deaton

    Nice reporting, Stack — and Sandy, totally agree with your takes on the Jazz and Warriors logos/unis. Utah is two inches on the shorts from being in ’89. Golden State is in the timeless zone.

  • http://www.slamonline.com J

    Warriors logo is fine but I still dislike their uni’s. I don’t have a problem with the color scheme but the design is still crap.. Looks very d-league-ish to me..

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/san-dova-speak-easy/ San Dova

    This is great. Teams rarely want to comment on anything having to do with image changes.

  • http://hoopistani.blogspot.com hoopistani

    wow kyle- awesome job on this article… It’s always great to read your work

  • Francis

    the Warriors “The City” jersey was from the late 60′s, not the 70′s as was cited in the article

  • http://www.kylestack.com Kyle Stack

    @Francis Understood. They were from both but the association with the ’70s sticks more because of GState’s title in ’75.

  • http://www.utjazzblog.com UTJazzBlog.com

    Nice write up. I love the Jazz vintage logo, and I’m glad they went back to it (or a close variation). I didn’t realize it had anything to do with honoring Larry Miller, which makes it even cooler.