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ETB’s NBA Logo Report Cards, Part Three

August 25, 2009

NBA Team Stickers

By: Zachariah Blott

Oklahoma City Thunder

Current logo: D

OKC Thunder LogoBest logo: None

Yet another team whose logo is their name and a basketball. Many of those other teams (Knicks, Lakers, Clippers, etc.) received a C for their logo because they at least kept it simple and didn’t add crap to it. Well here’s one that added crap to such a bland, basic concept. The OKC font is awkward. There are a blue and orange marking (eyelashes? grains of rice?) in the background.

Not sure what type of image they could use for the name Thunder? Here are a few teams who came up with something: Berlin Thunder (NFL Europe), Berlin’s alternative logo, Stockton Thunder (minor league hockey), Trenton Thunder (minor league baseball), and Trenton’s old logo.

Orlando Magic

Current logo: C

Orlando Magic LogoBest logo: 1989-2000

Remember when George Lucas put Jar Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace because he was a character the kids would like? That didn’t work out so well from a public reception standpoint. I get a similar feeling when I look at the Magic’s current logo. They took a decent, cartoonish logo that was used from 1989-2000 and replaced it with something similar but far more … kidsy. It’s puffy, has a giant star dotting the I (see also: middle school love notes), and the flying ball appears to have taken a slight detour in its flight path.

Orlando Magic Classic Logo

Eight more NBA logo report cards, after the jump …

76ers Previous Logo

Philadelphia 76ers

Current logo: C/D

76ers LogoBest logo: 1977-1997

Philadelphia has a new logo for the 2009-10 season and it’s pretty much the same as the logos they used from 1963 to 1997. The red, white, and blue color scheme helps remind us that America did basically start in this city back in 1776. The circle of 13 stars was used on the original Betsy Ross flag, so there are plenty of theme tie-ins. This logo does a very odd thing, however. It places the city’s name into a blue box and the logo on a red background in another box, and stacks them on top of each other. There is no cohesion; this is the only logo that has its own stub. At least it’s better than their gold-is-greater-than-patriotic-colors logo they used for the past 12 years.

Phoenix Suns

Current logo: C/D

Phoenix Suns LogoBest logo: 1992-2000

The basketball is a sun. OK, got it. I can live with that. Gray is a major color in the logo when their main colors are purple and orange. Hmmm, that seems like a bad idea. At best this logo is OK, but the changes from the previous logo, used from 1992-2000, were not good ones. In addition to loading up on gray, the basketball is now far more cartoonish with those crazy-thick black lines. I guess they borrowed it from Dora the Explorer. Although the last one wasn’t amazing, it kept purple and orange as the only two dominant colors in the logo, and it was very straightforward.

Portland Trailblazers

Trailblazers LogoCurrent logo: D

Best logo: None

Confused by the pinwheel logo used by a club named after folks like Lewis and Clark who exemplified courage, determination, and a spirit of exploration? So is everyone in Portland. For the record, that shape is supposed to represent two teams of five players facing off (or circling each other like the Jets and Sharks mid-song before a fight). Ugh. It’s bad. All of their logos have looked more or less like this one, so they just need to start fresh and hire a graphic artist who can capture what a Trailblazer represents.

Trailblazers Long Logo

Sacramento Kings

Sacramento Kings LogoCurrent logo: C

Best logo: Current

It includes a crown (little more than an explosion drawn by a 6 year old who’s only mastered straight lines, but still) and jousting lances to capture the essence of a king. Other than that, you have the team name and a basketball, but it’s arranged so that everything looks as busy and messy as possible. It’s not a terrible logo, but someone needs to rethink how to simplify it. As long as they don’t simplify to the point of what they had from 1985 to 1994.

San Antonio Spurs Classic Logo

San Antonio Spurs

Current logo: A

Spurs LogoBest logo: Current

San Antonio’s logo includes everything I like. It utilizes a simple design and color scheme, and it includes a clear image that ties into the team’s name (made out of the lettering to boot). It doesn’t try too hard like a lot of logos, but it doesn’t look pathetically simple. All of the changes made from the original 1976-1989 logo—decent in its own right—are good ones, and we’ll just pretend the aurora borealis logo from 1989 to 2002 didn’t happen.

Toronto Raptors

Current logo: C

Best logo: Alternate

Toronto Raptors LogoRemember the kids problem I had with the Magic’s logo? Well this is even worse. The franchise was named after the popular creatures in Jurassic Park, which was released three months before the NBA awarded Toronto their team. That’s a good way to date the name of your team (e.g. Mighty Ducks). And their logo includes a raptor in basketball shorts, a jersey, and sneakers. If this doesn’t scream “marketed toward children,” I’m not sure what will. It’s a clean looking image, which is good, but the name Toronto is too small.

Want to see a much simpler way to incorporate Raptors into a logo that isn’t so 1993 or cutesy? They already have it as an alternative logo; just make it the real thing.

Utah Jazz

Current logo: B

Best logo: Current

Utah Jazz LogoA poster on sportslogos.net has an idea for the most pure trade in NBA history. It works like this: Utah turns over their name to New Orleans. This makes sense both historically and culturally. The Jazz name should head back to the Mississippi Delta. But what would Utah’s new team name be? If only there was an appropriate nickname for the team seated in the Beehive State. How about the Hornets? I don’t know if this is a widely held idea by Jazz and Hornets fans, but it’s a great one I’ve never heard before. Oh yeah, the Jazz logo is pretty good except that the word Jazz is a little too big.

Washington Wizards Logo

Washington Wizards

Current logo: F

Best logo: None

Wizards Alternate LogoLast team, first failing grade. I suspect a club executive doodled this on a pad at some meeting in 1997 when the Bullets decided to change their name. There is no way this is the work of an actual artist who knows anything about aesthetically pleasing designs. Someone decided to go with curvy, so all of their logos—primary and alternative—are now made out of scythe blades. There’s no excuse for this amateur trash. Maybe it’s just tradition. The Wizards started as the Chicago Packers back in 1961, and their logo was downright pathetic.

See Also:
ETB’s NBA Logo Report Cards, Part One
ETB’s NBA Logo Report Cards, Part Two

14 Comments »Posted by Andrew Thell on Aug. 25, 2009 at 3:01 am in NBA

14 Responses

So being a teacher(?) qualifies you to grade the logos? You couldn’t find a graphics designer or someone at least remotely related to the field to do these posts?

Taste being subjective and all, Suns and Blazers logo I find much better than (for example) the Bucks and especially the Lakers one. How is Lakers logo a C? It’s a yellow ball with plain (I would add ugly) font.

Are you giving marks for aesthetic impression or likeness to the name (theme) of the franchise?

Posted by: b on August 25th, 2009 at 5:55 am

[...] Empty The Bench Remember the kids problem I had with the Magic’s logo? Well this is even worse. The franchise was named after the popular creatures in Jurassic Park, which was released three months before the NBA awarded Toronto their team. That’s a good way to date the name of your team (e.g. Mighty Ducks). And their logo includes a raptor in basketball shorts, a jersey, and sneakers. If this doesn’t scream “marketed toward children,” I’m not sure what will. It’s a clean looking image, which is good, but the name Toronto is too small. [...]

Posted by: Morning Coffee Aug 25 – Raptors Republic - Raptors Blog ESPN TrueHoop on August 25th, 2009 at 7:17 am

The logo you have for the Raptors is old. The more current one has dropped the purple in favour of red. Additionally, they use the claw logo as much or even more than the dino.

Posted by: siggian on August 25th, 2009 at 9:57 am

I am curious why you gave the Blazers logo a D. It seems that you consistently stated most logos just use the city name, a picture of the team name, and a basketball. Yet the Blazers, who have an uberly simple design that is none too flashy but unique, receive a D? The “face off” is the most creative logo in Basketball. And how could you have ignored our lowercase block letters we used from our inception to the 1990 season? It is still the coolest font used in basketball.

At the same time, way to not let your hometown bias affect your judgment.

Posted by: Robinson on August 25th, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Not all of the logos printed within the articles are the current ones. If you click on Toronto’s “their logo” link, it is the newer, red-only logo. I’m happy to hear they possibly use the claw logo more than the dino; I was simply going by what is officially listed as their main logo.

“Are you giving marks for aesthetic impression or likeness to the name (theme) of the franchise?” I more or less explain my grading criteria at the beginning of Part Two.

Posted by: Zachariah Blott on August 25th, 2009 at 12:22 pm

My chief problem with the Blazers logo is that it looks like a hurricane or a pinwheel. Their logo is not just the name of the team and a basketball, it’s also that 5-on-5 design that doesn’t work well. I know they love everything connected to 1977′s championship here (knock down the Memorial Coliseum already and put in a river-front park for the Beavers – sorry, Portland current events), but this logo just doesn’t work for me.

Posted by: Zachariah Blott on August 25th, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Again, great piece.

Just two comments:

1) I’m absolutely shocked the Thunder’s logo didn’t receive an F.

2) I think the Raptors alternate logo IS the real logo now. I could be wrong, but I think they’re phasing out the dino. Their website has instances of both of them, though.

Posted by: Vittorio De Zen on August 25th, 2009 at 1:55 pm

I hope you’re right and the Raptors alternate logo is now/soon the real logo. I just went by what was listed as the official logo on sportslogos.net and wikipedia.

Also, there’s another writer tackling the logos issue right now. Just for the record, my group of 10 were posted before his first one. Here’s the URL: http://www.bothteamsplayedhard.net/tag/the-nba-logo-ranking-project/

Posted by: Zachariah Blott on August 25th, 2009 at 2:28 pm

I am not a suns fan but how can you dis their logo’s use of gray (which is not in their colour scheme) but give the Spurs an A when they use 3 off colours (off blue/green, off orange and I didn’t know there was off orange, and off pink)in their scheme which are also not in their colour scheme (isn’t it basically black, gray and white?)? It seems a little contradictory unless those colours are somehow related to San Antonio or Texas (I have no idea if they are).

Posted by: Chris McEwan on August 26th, 2009 at 6:57 am

Chris – the pastel-colored logo you’re referring to is their old logo from the late 80s and 90s. The current logo went back to the silver-and-black style that the team rocked back in the 70s and 80s. I think the pastel turquoise, pink and orange scheme was a nod to the large Hispanic population in the area, they were referred to as “fiesta colors” by the team.

Posted by: Andrew Thell on August 26th, 2009 at 9:39 am

[...] Grading Current NBA Logos | Empty the Bench – Remember the kids problem I had with the Magic’s logo? Well this is even worse. The franchise was named after the popular creatures in Jurassic Park, which was released three months before the NBA awarded Toronto their team. That’s a good way to date the name of your team (e.g. Mighty Ducks). And their logo includes a raptor in basketball shorts, a jersey, and sneakers. If this doesn’t scream “marketed toward children,” I’m not sure what will. It’s a clean looking image, which is good, but the name Toronto is too small. [...]

Posted by: Toronto Raptors Linkage for August 21st through August 26th :The AltRaps Blog on August 26th, 2009 at 10:02 am

The 1990′s Spurs logo is my favorite of all time. Had such flair, hate to see you disagree. Their current one is nice and clean, but the bright colors did it for me.

http://www.BasketballinBlog.com- NBA News/Discussion

Posted by: jyoung4 on August 27th, 2009 at 11:27 pm

[...] Empty the Bench grades OKC’s logo: “Yet another team whose logo is their name and a basketball. Many of those other teams (Knicks, Lakers, Clippers, etc.) received a C for their logo because they at least kept it simple and didn’t add crap to it. Well here’s one that added crap to such a bland, basic concept. The OKC font is awkward. There are a blue and orange marking (eyelashes? grains of rice?) in the background.” [...]

Posted by: Thursday Bolts – 9.3.09 | Daily Thunder.com - Where Thunder Happens on September 3rd, 2009 at 10:46 am

You dinged the Blazers’ logo for not representing a “trailblazer”? By that logic, the Celtics would need to have some sort of goat-sacrificing druid incorporated in their logo. I don’t even know what a Laker or Pacer is.

Posted by: goonmod on May 21st, 2011 at 5:10 pm

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