When it comes to sports nicknames, Jerry West may have them all beat — it doesn’t get much cooler than “The Logo.” But the man whose silhouette adorns the NBA’s graphic representation thinks it’s high time someone else was handed the honor.
“I wish that it had never gotten out that I’m the logo,” the 78-year-old West said Friday on ESPN’s “The Jump.” “I really do. I’ve said it more than once, and it’s flattering if that’s me — and I know it is me — but it is flattering.
“But to me, I played in a time when they first started to try to market the league. There were five people that they were going to consider, and I didn’t find out about it until the late commissioner [J. Walter Kennedy] told me about it. . . .
“Again, it’s flattering. But if I were the NBA, I would be embarrassed about it. I really would.”
The logo was created in 1969 by a designer and former high school basketball star named Alan Siegel, who told the Los Angeles Times in 2010 that none of the “40 or 50 designs” he showed Kennedy featured anyone other than West. A childhood friend of the legendary sports reporter Dick Schaap, Siegel was allowed access to Sport magazine’s photo archives and found what he wanted in a photo by Wen Roberts.
“It had a nice flavor to it,” Siegel told the Times, “so I took that picture, and we traced it. It was perfect. It was vertical and it had a sense of movement. It was just one of those things that clicked.”
When asked Friday why he said he was embarrassed, West said, “I don’t know, I don’t like to do anything to call attention to myself, and when people say that, it’s just not who I am, period. If they would want to change it, I wish they would. In many ways, I wish they would.”
As far as who might replace him, West said while laughing, “[NBA Commissioner] Adam Silver would look great.”
Previously, West had nominated Michael Jordan to become the silhouette. “He’s been the greatest player I’ve ever seen,” West told the Huffington Post in 2015. “And I’m probably a harsh judge of talent, in the sense that I admire players that are really good defensive players and really good offensive players. . . . And he made his teams win.”
Unlike Jordan, West went on to have even more success as an executive than he did as a player, and we’re talking about a 14-time all-star whose NBA career included a championship and a Finals MVP award. As general manager of the Lakers, and a scout for the team before that, he was instrumental in creating the dominant team of the 1980s, one that took home five titles in that decade. Several years later, West’s trade for Kobe Bryant and signing of Shaquille O’Neal in free agency laid the groundwork for a Lakers squad that won three straight championships between 2000 and 2002, and he was twice named NBA executive of the year.
Even in quasi-retirement, championships followed: West joined the Warriors’ executive board in 2011, and the rest is recent, and record-breaking, NBA history. In other words, considering the totality of his accomplishments, West has enjoyed arguably the league’s finest career.
But if he must be replaced on the NBA’s logo, “The Jump” offered some suggestions Friday.
That Jordan silhouette is a non-starter, considering that it’s already being used to enormous profit by his Nike brand. Others suggested the likes of Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Russell Westbrook and, shall we say, less serious options.