August 29, 2015

NBA Logo Rank, Part 5

August is almost over, that means my logo rank is also almost over. Actually when you have read this (or just looked at the pictures), it will be. Let's find out who I have number one. But first…number six.

6. San Antonio Spurs
How great is the Spurs franchise? They have five titles in the last 15 or so plus years, they are the model of consistency and team play and they have this awesome logo. Sometimes, it really is about the simple things and you can't get a whole lot simpler than the Spurs have here. I mean it's really nothing more than a boot spur doubling as a "U" in the Spurs name but it just works perfectly. No fuss, nothing fancy. Just like the team it represents. No complaints here. Nothing but praise.

5. New York Knicks
If this ranking were about primary logos only, the Knicks would do about as well as their team did last year, which if you weren't paying attention, would be just about dead last. The Timberwolves kept the Knicks out of the NBA basement last season. The Clippers would certainly keep the Knicks out of the 30 spot on this rank based on primary logo alone.

So the primary logo is a basketball with the word Knicks in astonishing three dimensional font above and a triangle in back. Not good. Not really anywhere close. The logo used to not have the triangle. I hope the team didn't pay too much for someone to re-vamp their image and end up with just a triangle to add. I'd ask for my money back if that's what happened.

But the other two logos? Stunning. The "Knicks" in the basketball is so super simple and obvious but it's graphically brilliant. It helps that the Knicks colors are blue and orange so they can use the actual color of the basketball as a background to their team name.

And then there's the subway token logo. Long long ago before paper or plastic slide or touch subway cards, pretty much all subway systems in the United States used a token, something resembling a coin that you placed in a slot that allowed you to walk through the turnstile. Now, of course, most of these are all gone, although I did get to use some in Philadelphia when I visited last year to watch the Wizards take care of the Sixers. New York's subway tokens had a large central "Y" shaped cut into the center of the token with an "N" on the left and a "C" on the right. The Knicks have used that exact same token design substituting the "K" for the "C." It's absolute genius. The New York City subway is the most famous in the United States. I can't think of a better way to honor the city than converting the token into this logo. I love it.

4. Memphis Grizzlies
My list of all-time favorite NBA logos is pretty short. I haven't actually made one but it's not a bad idea to write about that subject in some later August. If I had made one, the Memphis Grizzlies bear head logo (the center one above - minus the words below it) would be very near the top of that chart. I love this graphic. It's abstract without being cartoon-y, stern and serious without being too scary and I love the half sun / half shadow thing its got going on. I was in Memphis in 2007 and actually thought about buying a shirt with this logo on it in the team store before I came to my senses and realized I couldn't really wear any other team's apparel. I think this is the best logo in the NBA today. No question about it.

BUT…this ranking is a list based on all of each team's logos and honestly, the yellow-orange ball in the blue bear claw just doesn't do anything for me. Pass. This logo drops the Grizz from first to fourth. The Celtics, Bulls and Wizards thank you for it.

3. Washington Wizards
Homer pick? Maybe. But I really like this set of logos that the Wizards introduced in 2011. They completed Ted Leonsis' re-brand this past offseason by killing the Wizard jumping over the moon logo which had served as the primary logo for the team either in the original blue, black and bronze scheme or the slightly tilted red, white and blue scheme since the team ditched the Bullets name. That move bumped the Wizards up a bunch of spots into the number three spot.

The "Unity Hand" logo (above, center) is a throwback to the old Bullets logo, which featured the two "l"s in the middle of the word as hands reaching skyward to catch a basketball. Since there are no double "l"s in either Washington or Wizards, this is the re-interpretation we ended up with. I like how it echoes the past, especially with the retro looking basketball. I don't particularly like the font but the letters clearly spell out "dc" which is good enough for me.

The "Monument Ball" logo is a number of things all at once. It's a basketball but also includes the Washington Monument which is so prominent on the city's skyline and a star echoing the three stars in the flag of Washington, D.C., a design patterned after George Washington's personal coat of arms. I loved the Monument Ball since the day it was released and I was pleased this past spring when the team elected to make it their primary logo. I find this choice surprising since this logo is not featured on the court but whatever.

There's nothing weak here. I love the designs and the colors. I'd say a strong number three. Who you got below the Wizards that is better? Name one and let's have it out.

2. Boston Celtics
You can't get much more classic a logo than the Celtics primary logo. For as long as I can remember this has been the Celtics logo and for good reason. This HAS been the Celtics logo since 1968 which is the year of my birth. True, until 1996 the logo just had two colors (green and white) and before 1976 there was a reddish basketball behind the figure but as far as I'm concerned, the C's have just had one logo. I mean, if it ain't broke, why fix it? Classic works, right? Don't mess with a good thing.

And so that's just the thing with the Celtics logos. They went and messed with it. Until 1998, the Celtics primary logo was good enough. Better than good enough, actually. Maybe the best in basketball considering design and tradition (I know I've just said the Grizzlies head is the best logo in the game today; that logo didn't exist in 1998). But marketing or whatever else got the best of the C's and they felt like they needed to add a shamrock logo. OK, not disastrous. They can probably still finish on top.

But then a year ago, Boston went and introduced the silhouette Celtic logo. I mean OK, it's not horrendous but it's weak enough that for me, it dilutes the branding. Everyone's got to have a second and third logo, right? Well, almost everyone...

1. Chicago Bulls
50 years. One logo. That's right the Chicago Bulls are the only franchise that has never ever ever changed their logo or added a second logo. With this design, they don't need one. I don't know what else to say here. This image is just about perfect. It's an angry bull with red tips on its horns. It's mean, threatening and is one of the classic sports logos ever. I hate that the Bulls ended up number one here but I don't know who else can do any better than this. 

That's it. That's the end. Don't agree with any of my opinions? That's fine. You don't have to. I'm always open to discussion about this subject or anything else about the NBA. Give me a heads up and I'll meet you before the next Wizards game.

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