The NBA playoffs are in full swing, and Jerry Crowe of the Los Angeles Times confirms the oft-told Logo Story.
Jerry West claims he's not so presumptuous as to assume his image is depicted on one of the most recognizable emblems in sports: the NBA logo.
The NBA too is coy.
Alan Siegel is not.
"It's Jerry West," he says.
Siegel, 71, designed the familiar logo in 1969, taking a Wen Roberts photograph of the Lakers star and turning it into an iconic image.
In red, white and blue, it shows a player in silhouette purposefully dribbling the ball upcourt with his left hand.
Siegel, a branding expert and lifelong basketball fan, believes he knows why the NBA is reluctant to acknowledge the obvious.
"They want to institutionalize it rather than individualize it," he says during an interview over lunch near his office in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. "It's become such a ubiquitous, classic symbol and focal point of their identity and their licensing program that they don't necessarily want to identify it with one player."
Well, Mr. Clutch did win one NBA title as a player (maybe he would have won more, but there was that team from Boston...)
West is still the only Finals MVP from a losing team, the Lakers having lost--again--to, um, that team from Boston...
But why was West chosen as the NBA's icon?
11 NBA championships in 13 years. A total team player. The league's first black coach, winning two titles in his three years as the Celtics' player-coach.