Who should replace Jerry West on a new NBA logo?
The choice is yours
Who should replace Jerry West on a new NBA logo? The choice is yours
For nearly 50 years, Jerry West has been immortalized. That’s because his likeness is the basis for the silhouette on the NBA logo, which longtime brand identity consultant Alan Siegel designed in 1969. Since then, Siegel has confirmed that the silhouette is West, although the NBA has denied it. Over the years, many people, including West, have pleaded for an update to the logo. The question is — who should replace West? The Undefeated selected 11 candidates and designed a new logo for each. Can you guess who we picked? Once you select correctly, we’ll make the case for why each of these players is worthy.
Hint 1: This player once asked Kanye West, “Are you a different animal and the same beast?” To which Yeezy responded by saying, “WTF does that mean?”
The greatest shooting guard in the history of the NBA not named Michael Jordan is Kobe Bean Bryant. He has an NBA championship ring for every finger on one hand. He’s top three on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone (though Bryant missed more shots than anyone in history). And, above all, he had that signature Mamba Mentality — an absolute killer on any given night, from his 81-point game to a 60-piece in his swan song. In these big moments, you could count on his go-to Mamba stare and fist pump — second to only Tiger Woods’ in fist pump power rankings.
Hint 2: This player averaged 38 points, 16.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in the NBA Finals at age 27.
The slam dunk is the most essential aspect of the game of basketball — and no one in NBA history threw the ball down with as much unadulterated force as Shaquille O’Neal. The 7-foot-1 Hall of Fame center destroyed rims, glass backboards and entire baskets on multiple occasions throughout his career. He put grown men on posters after dunking on them (sorry, Chris Dudley). But O’Neal was more than just a dunker. He is the most dominant player the league has ever seen. Even Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have cosigned this notion.
Hint 3: While filming a movie in the mid-1990s, this player built a state-of-the-art facility on set featuring a weight room, locker rooms, showers, living room, and basketball court.
Michael Jordan is already eternalized in silhouette. Since 1985, the “Jumpman” logo, depicting Jordan soaring through the air, has been one of the most distinguishable symbols on the planet — the mark of his billion-dollar brand. So why should he get another logo? For one, in 2015, Jerry West himself nominated Jordan as his replacement. But foremost, Jordan is the greatest of all time. In 15 NBA seasons, he was the ultimate winner — his six rings in six Finals appearances with six Finals MVPs is still unfathomable. So let’s celebrate how Jordan changed the game with a new silhouette — of how he celebrated his 1989 game-winner over Craig Ehlo.
Hint 4: The last five NBA Finals MVPs have either been this player, or the player who guarded him in the Finals. He’s the only active player worthy of logo consideration.
When it’s all said and done, LeBron James will take Jordan’s throne as the greatest of all time. It was destined to be that way ever since James was crowned “The Chosen One” in high school, and his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers drafted him No. 1 overall in 2003. James made “The Decision” in 2010 to take his talents to South Beach, where he won two titles with the Miami Heat before coming home to the Cavs and bringing Cleveland its first sports title in 52 years. His epic story began in his first NBA game on Oct. 29, 2003, with that memorable first career dunk.
Hint 5: “As far as playing, I didn’t care who guarded me — red, yellow, black. I just didn’t want a white guy guarding me. Because it’s disrespect to my game,” this player said.
Two of the most exciting elements of the NBA, sharpshooting and trash-talking, are the undeniable trademarks of Larry Bird. Back-to-back-to-back 3-point shootout titles from 1986-88 tell Bird’s story as a world-class marksman. Aside from being the only NBA player to win MVP, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year, Bird was also a Hall of Fame trash-talker. His cutthroat on-court mentality transcended his appearance and “hick from French Lick” Indiana roots. (Bird and Magic Johnson went at it for years in the best rivalry in league history.) Oh, and hands down, he’s the greatest white player of all time. Even he knew that.
Hint 6: In 1989, the Red Hot Chili Peppers paid homage to this player in a song the band named after him.
No player has ever been built quite like Earvin “Magic” Johnson. At 6-foot-9, 215 pounds, Magic was listed at point guard but had the silky-smooth game to play, and to guard, all five positions on the floor. He was certainly built to last — then, on Nov. 7, 1991, his life changed forever. In an unforgettable news conference, Johnson announced he had contracted HIV, his retirement effective immediately. He returned to play in the ’92 All-Star Game, with the ’92 Olympic “Dream Team” and for a brief stint in ’96, but Johnson’s career ended too soon. He had much more to give.
Hint 7: This Hall of Fame player’s birth name is Ferdinand.
The NCAA didn’t allow players to dunk when Lew Alcindor played for UCLA in the 1960s, so he adapted with the most feared shot the game has ever seen. If the NBA had one signature shot, it’d be the 7-foot-2 center’s “skyhook.” Given the supreme height and skill of Alcindor (who converted to Islam in 1968, later changing his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), the shot was virtually impossible to defend. It propelled him to the top spot on the NBA’s all-time scoring list and also to the most wins of any player in history. The shot was so iconic that when Siegel designed the original logo, he considered using Abdul-Jabbar as the silhouette.
Hint 8: During this multi-time NBA champion’s playing days, he became the first African-American to coach in the NBA.
Bill Russell has a heck of a trophy case: two NCAA titles, 11 NBA championship rings as a player (and two as a coach), 12 All-Star Game appearances, five NBA MVP Awards, and much more. But that only tells part of his story. In 1966 he became the first African-American to coach in the league, while he was still an active player. Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Abdul-Jabbar and Colin Kaepernick are the only athletes in history who hold a candle to Russell’s commitment to social justice throughout his career. On the court, his legacy lives on in the NBA Finals MVP trophy, which is named in his honor.
Hint 9: This superstar supported Richard Nixon during his 1968 presidential campaign.
Wilt Chamberlain kept it 100 — literally. On March 2, 1962, while facing the New York Knicks as a member of the Philadelphia Warriors, he scored an unbelievable 100 points, the single-game record for most points in a game. Some argue the 7-foot-2, 275-pound center is the greatest player of all time. That season, the most dominant of his career, during which he averaged 50 points and 26 rebounds — there were only nine teams in the league, and no one close to matching his dominance. He’s one of the greatest, but maybe not the greatest. Hands down, though, he’s the most prolific rebounder in history.
Hint 10: This player broke the NBA’s African-American color barrier in 1950, days before his black counterparts joined him in the league.
On Oct. 31, 1950, Earl Lloyd made history as the first black player to appear in the NBA, taking the floor for the Washington Capitals. A day later, Chuck Cooper debuted for the Boston Celtics, followed by Nathaniel “Sweetwater” Clifton as a member of the New York Knicks three days after that. These three men were pioneers in a league that is now majority black. Lloyd was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003 for his overall contribution to the game. Lloyd represents progress and, for that reason, will forever be remembered.
Bonus: Before a game during the 2016-17 season, cameras caught this player sitting on the bench and jamming out to Future’s “Mask Off.”
Russell Westbrook is the undisputed leader of the new school that is currently flourishing in the NBA. The culture of the league is shaped in his image, as Westbrook represents a generation of ballers who hoop and operate on their own terms. These players have dope pregame handshakes. They’re fun to watch on the court. And off of it, they aren’t afraid to throw shade at opponents or pop off at reporters. This fun and free essence of the league deserves to be reflected in the logo — why not through a silhouette of Westbrook hittin’ dem folks?