The Brooklyn Nets are a complicated proposition for me. For starters, I grew up rooting for the Nets and attended several of their games at the Nassau Coliseum back in the Dr. J era. I became more of a Knicks fan when the Nets moved to New Jersey, but I always retained a soft spot for the Nets. When Jason Kidd led them to the NBA finals twice in a row, I was actually excited for them, even though I’d largely stopped caring about the NBA by that point.
Secondly, I’m about to mark my 25th anniversary of moving to Brooklyn (plus both my parents grew up in Brooklyn), so I care deeply about the borough and am generally in favor of having a major-level team here. Like I’ve always said, sports teams are civic enterprises as much as they’re business enterprises, so I dig the civic aspect of a team with “Brooklyn” on its chest.
But I’ve been very, very opposed to the new arena (about nine blocks from where I live) and its associated development project. It’s in a terrible location that will bring loads of traffic and congestion to a spot that’s already overburdened, it’s a financial boondoggle, it has forced people out of their homes, it’s not providing as many jobs as had been promised (happy May Day!), and on and on. It’s a fucking disaster, and I get sick to my stomach just thinking about it.
All of which means that I view the Nets’ new visual program with a mix of emotions. I’m trying my best to put all of that aside as I assess their new branding. I’m also ignoring that storyline that says Jay-Z had a big role in creating the logo. Maybe that’s true and maybe it isn’t, but it’s ultimately irrelevant.
Brooklyn is very easy to caricature (sometimes positively, sometimes negatively), and my biggest fear was that the Nets’ new logo would come off as some sort of T.G.I.Brooklyn cartoon. I think we can safely say they haven’t done that. Unfortunately, I’m not sure they’ve accomplished much of anything else.
Here’s what I like about the logo: It isn’t overdesigned; it doesn’t try to look macho or fierce or intimidating; it doesn’t make use of gratuitous digital tricks like beveling; it doesn’t feel “extreme.” In other words, it avoids many of the pitfalls of modern sports logo design.
But avoiding weaknesses is not the same thing as having strengths, and I don’t see much in the way of strengths here. The typography feels so wan, so generic — come on, make that “B” a bit thicker, a bit bolder! And I think a bit of gray or silver trim would help a lot. The whole thing feels more like an Old Navy knock-off than an NBA logo. I’ll say this much: I’m impressed that such a minimalist design was able to make it through the pipeline without being gussied up along the way. But this is one of those rare cases when less feels like less.
Now, I’ve seen the uniforms (not sure when those are being unveiled), and I like them better than I like the logo. For now, though, this team feels really, really plain.
By Brinke Guthrie
Someone astutely pointed out last week that Collector’s Corner seems to skew towards 1970s NFL stuff. Quite right. Why? It seems to me that that era hits the sweet spot of a lot of the readership here. Plus, it’s been my experience that the NFL from about 1967-1977 has the best stuff. Sears, IHOP, Chiquita, Gatorade — all those tie-in premium items we had to have. Believe me, when you search MLB/NHL/NBA in the 1960s-1970s era, the quality stuff just isn’t as prevalent.
With that in mind, let’s lead off with a nice IHOP NFL standings board, a set of Chiquita stickers, this NFL Central Division glass from Mobil, a 1973 American Express promo NFL Playbook signed by Merlin Olsen and Isiah Robertson [my own copy of this, while not signed by any players, has been among my favorite possessions for nearly 40 years — PL], a Great NFL Fun Book from 1978, and an NFL lunchbox from the same year. Whew!
But here are some other items, just to show that CC can venture outside of that sweet spot:
• This one’s specifically for Paul: a 1940s milkshake cup with artwork of a woman skating playing hockey. [Ah, Brinkster, you know what I like. — PL]
• Ernie Banks is a Hall of Famer. And while he didn’t have a “signature” baseball shoe, he sure has an expensive pair right here.
• Do you want an official 1970s Boston Bruins coloring book? Sure you do.
• Sorry, but Charlie Hustle is always gonna look out of place wearing an Expos uniform, like on this 1984 glass.
• Nice 1967 New Orleans Saints book cover!
• And we close things out this week with this awesome 1970s MLB kids’ belt, featuring all the then-current team logos.
Seen something on eBay or Etsy (or anywhere else) that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Attention all you SoCal readers: Although nothing’s firmed up yet, there’s a decent chance that I’ll be making a work-related trip to L.A. at some point over the next two months. If so, I’ll definitely arrange to have a Uni Watch party during my visit. More details soon. … The Mets were apparently considering a powder blue road uni in the 1980s. That prototype was shown at a Mets history conference that took place at Hofstra over the weekend (big thanks to Mets Police blogger Shannon Shark). … “One of my father’s closest friends was a former Pirates minor leaguer from the 1950s,” writes Mark Mannino. “In the late ’70s his friend found some old Pirates documents and they mocked up a tryout invitation for me on Pirates letterhead. I was eight years old at the time. I forgot about it for years and just this week was digging through old albums and found it. My favorite part is where ‘The Pirates’ is in quotes.” … E. Lindsey Hall III picked up an NFL-related T-shirt in Iran that’s weird in all sorts of ways. … Natty Boh has produced a cool can design to mark the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards (from Tim Haller). … Has anyone ever said this about a Bosox/Chisox game before? … New rugby kit for Warrington, and it’s a, uh, doozy (from James Welham). … If you miss the Brewers’ old ball-in-glove logo, maybe you should root for Brick Memorial High School in New Jersey (from Dan Cichalski). … Army football wore new uniforms, based on the ones from last year’s Army/Navy game, for their spring game (from Terry Duroncelet). … More Army football news: Army has been letting fans vote on the photos that will be used on this year’s season tickets (from Noah Goodman). … Ice cream has been served in mini-batting helmets for decades. But now a few stadiums are selling nachos in full-size helmets (from Brice Wallace). … Falcons RB Jacquizz Rodgers has agreed to give up number 22 to recently acquired CB Asante Samuel. “Apparently a lot of people call Samuel ‘Deuce-Deuce,'” explains Britton Thomas. “Rodgers will wear 32 next season.” … Ever wonder what the Rangers and Canadiens would look like in black helmets? Check out this hockey board game that Tim Reyes’s brother found at a local Salvation Army store. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: The Mets dressed up Western-style, yee-haw, for Sunday’s flight to Houston. “Word is they’ll be breaking out hockey sweaters for a road trip to Toronto later this year,” says Ben Fortney. … Now that Texas A&M is in the SEC, they’ve added all the SEC team logos to their equipment room wall display (from Glenn Stern). … Yesterday I mentioned how the Titans’ colored yoke no longer goes all the way to the edge of the sleeve cuff. But now Buddy Walker has provided a photo showing indicating otherwise. Might depend on the jersey cut. Looks like we’ll have to wait until we start seeing these on the field. … Here’s a page devoted to Marlins uniform history (from Thomas Griffith). … New mascot for FSU (from Leo Strawn). … 49ers draftee LaMichael James, who went to college at Oregon, had this to say in a radio interview yesterday: “I would not go to two or three colleges, just because they were Adidas. Weirdest thing ever. I wouldn’t go to Arkansas and I wouldn’t go to Mississippi State because they were Adidas schools. No three stripes for me. All Nike.” … Good article about a Seattle uniform company called Intrepid Sportswear, which is devoted to taking smaller profit margins and therefore offering lower prices than the big corporate outfitters. Recommended reading (from Mike McLaughlin).