For generations, the NBA has had an iconic logo that gives young players something to aim for. Playing for a team that wears that logo on their uniform is something kids dream of. Some players are lucky enough to play in the NBA, but do you know the story behind the famous logo? The silhouette is actually NBA legend Jerry West, and here’s how it was created.
Looking for a designer
In the ‘60s, the NBA was desperate to set itself apart from its competition, the American Basketball Association, and that meant bringing in a new logo. They called upon a designer named Alan Siegel and hoped that whatever he came up with would inspire people to be loyal to the NBA.
Siegel looked through tons of pictures of past and present players to find an image of one in a pose he liked. That’s where LA Lakers legend, Jerry West, came in. The image that would become the NBA’s logo struck a chord with Siegel, and he believed this was the perfect symbol of basketball.
The NBA was happy to go with one of Siegel’s designs and began using it as soon as possible. People wondered who the man behind the silhouette was, but the NBA was not saying anything. They couldn’t openly admit that they were using West’s likeness or else they’d probably have to pay him for the image rights.
West does not receive any royalties for the use of his image, despite the NBA making billions in revenue from it. In fact, the NBA denies outright that West has anything to do with the logo, making it the worst kept secret in pro sports.
Jerry West no longer wants to be the man behind the logo. He reckons it’s time for someone else to represent the biggest basketball franchise in the world. Of course, he is flattered by the league’s decision to use his likeness and is aware that it came down to a matter of good fortune.
West just happened to be one of the leading stars in the league at the time when the NBA were looking to rebrand. After years spent representing the company, West believes he has the ideal candidate for who a new logo should bear a likeness to. West thinks none other than Michael Jordan deserves to be the face, or the outline, of the NBA.
A legendary player
West was no slouch himself and does himself a disservice. The Lakers legend was an NBA champion as a player and again as an executive with the LA side and the Golden State Warriors. West was responsible for the Lakers bringing on Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, making them one of the most dominant teams in the league for years.
While West doesn’t receive any financial gains from the NBA using his image in their logo, he does get some pride. For over 40 years West has represented the organization he loves, but he is happy for someone else to have their turn representing the NBA.