The NBA Logo Was Much Worse Before Jerry West Inspired the One We Know Now

Jerry "The Logo" West had a very literal nickname.


Jun. 13 2024, Published 10:26 a.m. ET

Lebron James running on a court with the NBA logo on it on July 30, 2020
Source: Getty Images

For as long as most people can remember, the NBA logo has been the silhouette of a player dribbling the ball. Following his death on June 12, 2024, more people also discovered that that silhouette was inspired by NBA legend Jerry West, who was playing in the league when the logo was designed.

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Given that Jerry was playing in the NBA when that new logo came about, though, many naturally wondered what the NBA logo looked like before Jerry inspired the current iteration. Here's what we know about what the NBA logo looked like prior to Jerry's iconic silhouette.

The NBA logo in 2017 vs. the logo in 1962
Source: NBA
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What was the NBA logo before Jerry West?

The NBA logo evolved and changed in the years before Jerry inspired the current iteration. Basically, though, every prior version of the logo resembled the shape of a basketball in one way or another. Frankly, those designs weren't all that impressive, so it's no wonder that the league went looking for a better logo near the end of the 1960s.

Designer Alan Siegel, who had been responsible for the evolution of Major League Baseball's logo, was hired to give the NBA a similar treatment. Alan said that he took inspiration from Jerry's perfect dribbling form.

“It’s the easiest job I ever had,” Siegel told CNN Sport. While Alan has been open about the fact that Jerry was the logo's inspiration, the NBA has never publicly acknowledged that Jerry is the one dribbling.

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Alan even explained that he didn't inform the league of where he had taken inspiration from, and further said that the silhouette wasn't meant to be identifiable as any single player. Jerry retired in 1974, five years after that new logo was implemented. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame for the first time just six years later. As news of how Jerry inspired the new icon spread, he earned the nickname "The Logo."

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The NBA logo has stayed the same for decades.

Although the logo changed quite a bit in the first few years of the organization's existence, Alan's design continued essentially unchanged for decades. The league did make a few minor tweaks to the design back in 2017, darkening the blue and adding a white border. Overall, though, Jerry's dribbling form has been a part of NBA history for almost 50 years now.

Jerry's legacy isn't confined to inspiring the logo, though. After a hugely successful career as a player (which included seven consecutive finals losses), Jerry became one of the most legendary executives in the history of the NBA.

Jerry assembled the "Showtime" Lakers that dominated the NBA in the 1980s, and he was also responsible for the duo of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, which dominated the league a few years later. Few figures in the history of the league have made a bigger impact, so while Jerry might not have deserved to be the logo initially, he has more than earned that distinction since.

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