NBA Still Won't Say the Logo Is Jerry West

Star didn't want to be known as the silhouette of the league
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2024 7:20 PM CDT
NBA Would Never Confirm Logo Was Based on Jerry West
A statue of Jerry West dribbling is displayed outside Arena in Los Angeles on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

After the death of Jerry West was announced on Wednesday, the NBA sent out a statement from the commissioner praising the Lakers' Hall of Famer. Above it was the league's famous logo showing a silhouetted player dribbling a basketball with his left hand. It seemed the perfect time to acknowledge that West was a player so iconic that he inspired the logo's design. But Commissioner Adam Silver made no mention of it, the New York Times reports. The league never has. Still, it's widely known that the logo is based on a photograph of West taken by Wen Roberts.

Alan Siegel, the branding expert hired in 1969 to create the logo, gave an explanation for league officials' stance in 2010, per CBS Sports. "They want to institutionalize it rather than individualize it," he said. "It's become such a ubiquitous, classic symbol and focal point of their identity and their licensing program that they don't necessarily want to identify it with one player." The closest Silver came to acknowledgment was conceding in 2020, "It sure looks a lot like him." The connection was obvious enough that some gave West the nickname "the Logo."

There was talk over the years of creating a new logo, some of it originating with West. Silver did less dancing around the issue on Wednesday with the Times, saying he never had any doubt that West was the inspiration. Neither did West, he said. "But Jerry also made clear that he was uncomfortable being known as 'The Logo,'" the commissioner said. "He felt that the logo should stand for something bigger than him. Typical Jerry." (More Jerry West stories.)

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