August 4, 2017

G-League Logo Rank, Part 2

Last week I published the first in a series of three posts ranking team logos of the 26 teams that make up the G-League or Gatorade League, the minor league farm system of the NBA, formerly known as the NBDL. I took on the eight worst (in my humble opinion) packages of logos adopted by the teams that make up that league. Here's part two, which also features eight not so good but certainly better than last week's logos. Once I'm done here, I'll conveniently have ten logos remaining for a triumphant top 10 in next week's post.

Enough gold plating something that has really no importance whatsoever but which strangely means something to me in the dead of summer when there's no NBA. Let's start in Grand Rapids.

18. Grand Rapids Drive
In part one of my G-League Logo Rank, I mentioned that I sketched the initial draft of this post series some months ago. In the first pass, the Grand Rapids Drive, which have pulled together a really pretty awesome looking primary logo with an absolutely abominable wholely unnecessary jumbo "GR" as their secondary look, were actually ranked much higher. So why the drop? Turns out it's because of what their parent club the Detroit Pistons went and did.

Let me explain. I love the old Detroit Pistons logo that the team used from 1979 to 1996. The complete loss of that logo in favor of (initially) a fire-breathing horse with tailpipes and a subsequent plain looking basketball with some strangely fonted arched wordmark over it was distressing to me. The only thing that came close to that classic look was the Drive's main logo. And I loved it (still do). But now the Pistons have adopted a logo that's closer in appearance to the 80s and early-90s one than the Drive's. Consequently the Drive's logo just ain't that great for me and the absolute horrorshow that is the giant "GR" becomes more dominant. I'm maybe being a bit unfair to the Furniture City (I'm serious with that name) but whatever. Get rid of the "GR" please.

17. Salt Lake City Stars
Does the Salt Lake City Stars logo seem unusually small to anyone or is it just me. Check out the full selection of primary G-League logos on Chris Creamer's site and tell me it doesn't. Other than the Northern Arizona Suns (terrible name), the Stars' logo is way smaller than any other team's. I think that's the first thing that bothers me. It shouldn't because taken in isolation the Stars' logo is neither bigger nor smaller than anything. But it does all the same.

As a logo, the Stars look isn't all that bad. But it isn't all that good either. It's just a star with a basketball in front of it and another couple of stars on either end of the wordmark. Ironically (considering where this sort of thing got the Grand Rapids Drive and Texas Legends) the Stars might actually benefit from a secondary logo. Maybe something a little more exciting. Two thumbs sideways here.

16. Long Island Nets
Speaking of not all that bad, but not all that good either, let's take a look at the Long Island Nets. If there's a traditional logo that looks like it was borrowed from another decade and another sport, it's the Nets' look. This simple basketball with a script "Nets" written in front of it looks like it could be straight out of Major League Baseball in the 1970s. Not much more to say here. The Nets have crafted something innocuous enough not to be marked down for being bad but without much merit deserving of praise.

15. Erie Bayhawks
Last December I made it to my first Erie Bayhawks game. A couple of weeks later I found out the team had been sold to the Orlando Magic, which meant the complete death of yet another longstanding independent team before the one-to-one affiliations and outright ownership by NBA parent teams began to consume the league. For the Bayhawks, it meant that the 2016-2017 season would be their last. No more Bayhawks. No more complicated but independently proud Bayhawks logo.

Since my trip to Erie, the Bayhawks have moved to Lakeland, Florida and have become the Lakeland Magic. Yet the Bayhawks remain for one final season because the Atlanta Hawks' G-League franchise doesn't have a building to play in yet. So they agreed to stash the team in Erie under the old Bayhawks name. It's an odd circumstance that has nothing to do with ranking the team's logo, which is neither that good nor that bad. This is likely the Erie Bayhawks will be featured in any logo rank and I think that's sad.

14. Rio Grande Valley Vipers
The Vipers, just like the Bayhawks, are one of the holdovers from the pre-NBA team ownership era of the G-League (or the D-League actually), a team with a name not aligned with any NBA team's branding in a city somewhat far from the home club. Only their logos are better than those in Erie.

The primary logo is the best Vipers look here, a basketball (which oddly enough is one of the microfiber composite basketballs the NBA rolled out in 2006 and then kicked to the curb on January 1, 2007) with a viper, which are endemic to the Rio Grande Valley where Hidalgo (the Vipers' home town) is located, wrapped around it. It's well designed and proportioned and makes me believe that one of these things could wrap itself around a ball as a hands-off-this-is-mine gesture.

The secondary logos are less successful, mostly because the snake looks really stubby. There's not way a normal snake body is present between the head and tail in the alternate logos.

13. Sioux Falls Skyforce
The Skyforce are one of the G-League's oldest franchises, tracing their lineage all the way back to the old Continental Basketball Association in 1989 with no change in location or naming (although they flexed on the color) despite the fact that the Miami Heat moved into single affiliation status in 2013. They are one of the league's true survivors. For now.

There's not much to the Skyforce's logo. It's a simple basketball moving at rate of speed high enough to cause some sort of warped matter trail as it moves from left to right and down to up. It worked better with the team's old colors in my opinion (I've included the new scheme above and the original at the top of this post) but the Heat color scheme doesn't detract from the look that much. Simplicity (and my insistence on letting nostalgia for the good old days of the D-League and before) puts the Skyforce just inside the top half at 13.

12. Austin Spurs
I like the San Antonio Spurs logo. I like it so much that I've put it in the sixth position in my NBA logo rank each of the last three years. As much as I do like it though, I don't need to give that organization credit for just duplicating their look and foisting it on their minor league Austin-based franchise. It is as close to the original look as it could possibly be. The Spurs finish here because of just plan lack of originality.

11. Iowa Wolves
This offseason the Minnesota Timberwolves re-branded themselves completely. Well, maybe not completely because they still have the same nickname and their howling wolf logo looks suspiciously like previous howling wolf logos they have used. But they changed their color scheme a little, the wolf looks decidedly less rabid than he or she did in the past and their look now prominently features a four pointed north star in some sort of deep chartreuse color

Turns out the Timberwolves want the same look for their newly acquired G-League in Des Moines, the former Iowa Energy and now the Iowa Wolves. No howling in this one. Instead the wolf is looking straight at you and it doesn't look friendly. Not raving about the primary logo here; it's clearly a 2-for-1 special from the ad agency who redesigned the parent company's look. But I like the (again) map-based secondary logo if for no other reason than Iowa never seems to get a lot of pub as a state shown in isolation. I'm thinking the star is a bit too low for Des Moines, though.

16 down; 10 to go. I know all you G-League fans are already debating in your heads which of the remaining 10 franchises you'd put in which order. Eh, who's kidding whom. At least 90% of the people who will read this couldn't name five of the remaining 10 teams. If you are not motivated to look it up (and let's face it, who really is) stay tuned next week to this spot for the top 10.

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