I’ve gone through my logo rankings for the NFL and MLB, so now it’s time for the NBA! If you want to see which logos I picked as the best for those leagues, I’ve provided this handy reference page. Otherwise, let’s do some roundball logo reviews. I’m going to take this at an easier pace than I did with football and baseball, so this will be running into the NBA 2012-13 regular season.
Up first are the five teams of the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division — the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, and Toronto Raptors. As always, most of these are sourced from Chris Creamer’s outstanding logo website.
Boston Celtics primary logo (1978/79 – 1994/95)
What better way to start this logo series than with one of the NBA’s all-time great ones? The original Celtics leprechaun logo was designed by Zang Auerbach, brother of legendary coach Red Auerbach. This update is clean and timeless, and perfectly incorporates Boston’s proud Irish heritage.
Boston Celtics primary logo (1950s/1960s)
I had to dig around for a clear example of the C’s older logo, and this is the best I could find. It’s from the team’s 1960-61 yearbook cover.
It’s not horrible, just kinda goofy. The leprechaun looks more like a wood sprite or something. Boston used variations on this logo — some with color and some with different body positions — throughout the 1950s and most of the ’60s.
New Jersey Nets logo (1978 – 1990)
Here’s the thing — even though I was never a Nets fan, I am a New Jersey native and lifelong resident. So this logo, which so proudly displays my home state, will always be a favorite of mine. I just could never say that about the team.
I snagged this from a scan of an old Fleer sticker, thus black dashed line.
New Jersey Nets logo (1990 – 1997)
This logo replaced the first one for the 1990-91 season, and the only thing it has in common that I like is the red, white and blue color scheme. Otherwise, this is an abomination. I may not love the new Brooklyn Nets logo, but that thing is a masterpiece compared to this cheesy gradient turd.
New York Knicks
New York Knicks alternate logo (1978-79)
Now this is great. Possibly the best fruit-related logo I’ve ever seen.
Seriously though, the Knicks need to bring this back, even if just as an alternate. Because their current primary logo is seriously played out.
New York Knicks primary logo (1946-1964)
I fully understand the historic significance of Father Knickerbocker, New York’s Dutch heritage, and the Knicks. Doesn’t mean it’s not a goofy logo.
Philadelphia 76ers primary logo (1977-1997)
I know a lot of fans prefer the prior logo for the 76ers, but that’s not really a logo — it’s a wordmark. And as unoriginal as incorporating a basketball into a logo is, it finishes this off quite nicely.
Philadelphia 76ers primary logo (1997-2009)
It’s not bad, really, but the color scheme was a big mistake. Philly should only ever be red, white and blue.
Toronto Raptors alternate logo (2008-present)
Clever, bold, and unique. Nice work on this one, Toronto.
Toronto Raptors primary logo (1995-2008)
Sorry Raptors fans, I think this is just silly. It looks like the mascot from a Disney movie with a name like Air Raptor. At least the team ditched the purple several years ago, so the current primary is a slight improvement.
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