Once upon a time, back when black and white TVs were still a thing and the 3-point-line was not, there was a bad motherfucker who played for the
Minneapolis Los Angeles Lakers.
His name was Jerry West.
With his tenacious defense, clutch shooting, and unparalleled work ethic, the East Bank, W. Va., native would go on to become one of the greatest players in NBA history. In fact, dude was so damn good that in 1969, when brand identity consultant Alan Siegel was tasked with giving the NBA’s logo a facelift in order to differentiate the league from the now-defunct American Basketball Association, Siegel drew inspiration from a picture of West dribbling and voila! The NBA had its new logo.
In the decades since West hasn’t ever really embraced his status as Mr. Logo, and at one point even suggested Michael Jordan as a replacement. The NBA wasn’t trying to hear it though, and West reluctantly remains the face of the league.
“I don’t like to do anything to call attention to myself,” he once said on ESPN’s The Jump. “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.”
Fast forward to today, and ever since the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, fans have been clamoring for the league to replace West with the five-time champion. As of the time of his writing, over three million people have signed a Change.org petition demonstrating their commitment to the cause. And because Kyrie Irving has never had a problem expressing his own controversial opinions, on Wednesday, he took to Instagram to plant his flag in the sand.
“Gotta Happen, idc what anyone says,” he captioned a picture of Bryant superimposed over the NBA logo. “BLACK KINGS BUILT THE LEAGUE.”
While Kyrie’s endorsement has received plenty of praise, it also received a not so surprising co-sign from Kobe’s widow, Vanessa. In her Instagram Stories, she replied “Love this @kyrieirving.”
Jerry West is a legendary sports figure and unquestionably one of the pillars of the NBA. But in the modern era, it’s not exactly a secret that Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant have been far more influential in helping to propel basketball into a global phenomenon.
For that reason alone, it might be time for the NBA to make a switch.