By Phil Hecken
The following article has literally been months in the making. It all started way back at the end of last year and culminated in a segment (scroll down, just below the Super Bowl Logo winner) in this January 26, 2013 column, (Meet W. Ross Clites) where today’s featured concepter shared his Oklahoma City Thunder concepts. That segment came from W. Ross Clites, and part of my introduction to him noted, “…he’s actually working on a whole NBA redesign (what with the renaming of the Hornets to the Jazz, the [pretty much done] deal to move the Kings to Seattle, the probable re-renaming of the Bobcats to the Hornets…etc.) submission that should be running in a couple of weeks.”
Well, that couple of weeks turned into a couple of months, but trust me, it is well worth the wait. I present to you today the first of two new segments from Ross, and I’ll just let him take it away from here. [For any image, please click to enlarge]
Part I: “Some witty prose about a reworked NBA post David Stern, better looking and blah blah blah…”
By W. Ross Clites
First off, a very happy birthday to my lovely sister, Erica, who is currently up and moving to Louisville, Kentucky. My brother, Cam, cannot read this now because he is off the grid at Maxwell A.F.B. in Alabama. I am proud of all three of us for going out and doing whatever the hell we feel like it; not because it makes logistical sense to others, but because happiness trumps all.
With that, I wanted to share with Uni Watch something I had a ton of fun working on these past months. Many thanks to Phil who has been the most helpful and supportive correspondent in this whole endeavor. Awhile back, he enjoyed my Oklahoma City Thunder tweak enough to write some kind words about it and showcase more than his traditional weekend section. From there, he asked if I had any more NBA work, which (at the time) I did not. But the night he tossed me that question, I stayed up looking at a map of the currently-configured NBA franchises juxtaposed against that of the 1970s ABA/NBA teams. Giving a design “homework” assignment to me is like giving crack to an addict. I spent six years of college under the framework of design exercises and I love to challenge myself, so telling Phil that I was one-and-done with the OKC tweak was not good enough for me.
The goal was to right the wrongs–the franchise relocations and name adoptions that should never have happened. Understand that I am not oblivious to reality; I know that there is a slim chance that even 10% of what you see could/would ever transpire. I realize that the Sacramento-to-Seattle is not the same sure-thing it was when I started this project. But if you look at my work that way, you are missing the point. This is my Utopian view on what the David Stern-less NBA should look like, and take it at face value. I poke a lot of fun at things, lift inspirations from other sports, make countless pop culture references (so many you’ll need a scorecard), and hopefully created some nice artwork.
I never understood why the NHL, NFL, and Major League Baseball created new identities for their relocated franchises, but the NBA did not. It really is not rocket science to come up with a new, locally-responsive name; it is just good business to have the fans rally around “their team” and not the transferred remnants of someone else’s team. I wrote down the list of eligible suitors for trading their names. My three biggest offenders are the “Grizzlies,” the “Lakers,” and the “Jazz.” So I needed to put the team names back where they belong, and swap with others that do not have a rich history, or area-specific nickname. The first metaphor I could draw up was that of one of those slider puzzles, with 15 pieces and a blank spot. You have to rearrange the pieces to bring clarity to the complete composition. That thinking evolved into my first wave of moves and the inception of a new name to the equation:
After that move, and Los Angeles now in need of a team name, I worked to fill that void.
The last move starts and ends with Utah. The Colorado Avalanche staying the “Nordiques” would have been more logical than the relocated NBA franchise in Salt Lake City keeping the “Jazz.” That, of course, got me thinking about two of my more underrated favorite movies — The Jerk and BASEketball.
With all these moves in place, I was ready to roll out the entire 2014 NBA. This is the best I could come up with and I hope you all enjoy, hate, converse about, critique, get inspired by, and collaborate with me to make this a better product. I did all of this with the fans and the history of the game in mind, so you can hardly call any move I make “baseless.” None of my work is ever finished and never stands as an be-all, end-all.
What We Will Have:
What I Wish We Could Have:
Unchanged East Teams:
I want to give a shout out to a couple of guys who submitted tweaks earlier in 2012 and I loved their work. I did not even attempt a proposal for Atlanta, because I felt Marcin Niedzielski’s Hawks were more to-the-point than anything I could do. I also find the illustrations by Tom Bierbaum captivating. He is extremely talented; a perfect blend of amusing, responsive, and a classic case where busy = beautiful. They are comically retro, but oddly progressive. I wish the Pacers adopted this tomorrow.
Tweaked East Teams (Full Design Explanations in Part II):
Long overdue to return the “Hornets” to North Carolina. It felt really good to finally make an anatomically-correct insect to represent their team.
New York Knicks:
Logos all stay the same, but I designed a new alternate uni for the ‘Bockers. I could see this jersey, that visually pays homage to the championship eras gone by, becoming a fan-favorite for all games at the Garden. This one was drawn up for my main man, cousin, and FiveBoroBall.com editor, Mike Quinn. If you want to talk to a man who knows his hoops, he is the man to see.
My opinion, but there is just something about that logo in red and black, paired with the alliteration, that makes it so much better than the Minnesota equivalent.
If you did not catch it, there are new names for the divisions: Northeast, Southeast, and Midwest. I cannot stand the use of “Atlantic” in sports. The University of Louisville will be joining the Atlantic Coast Conference. Makes as much sense as Miami (which touches the ocean) not being in the NBA’s Atlantic Division, while Toronto is. Along that same line of thinking, do not call yourselves the “Central” Division if 2 1/2 of your teams are in the Eastern Time Zone; it is confusing and stupid.
Unchanged West Teams:
Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers
Tweaked West Teams (Full Design Explanations in Part II):
This was a late addition thanks to the oft-talked-about Mark Cuban crowdsourcing of his team’s uniforms. I never submitted this to his site (as instructed by the “competition”) out of principle for the little guys out here in the trenches doing all the designs. I want Mark Cuban to take a page out of the NFL and NHL playbooks; starting the trend of color at home and road white. He just loves for his team to be unique so I obliged. Things to note: the return of the old cowboy hat and the implementation of the mustang head as “watermark” (a la the Ivory Coast and others in the 2010 World Cup).
Golden State Warriors:
I love the return of the Bay Bridge logo, but it needs some depth/activation. If you are going to stay “Golden State” and not Oakland or San Francisco, you might as well play to all Californians with an image of their state. Side note: I love using the shapes of the states whenever I can. The History Channel’s “How The States Got Their Shapes” is a guilty pleasure, and their intricate and visually-interesting boundaries are an easy addition to bolster the most generic of logos. The new center court graphic at Old Dominion’s gym is one of the most brilliant things I have seen.
Los Angeles Clippers:
Subtle tweak thanks to the Columbus Clippers take on the vessel.
Los Angeles Kings:
Due to the name I selected and the franchise’s history in L.A., this one is the toughest sell and will likely be the most scrutinized of them all. Stay tuned for Part II to read my validation behind the concept.
Part II discusses the two-prong marketing attack behind this name; building a better basketball rivalry along the Mississippi River and further tethering the sports allegiances of an NBA-neutral St. Louis market to Memphis.
Not the return on the MPLS Lakers, but a satisfyingly close update on the classic. See: Golden State Warriors in regards to the state graphic, with a special shout-out to as many of the 10,000 lakes as I could depict.
New Orleans Jazz:
Pelicans? Really? The biggest righting of the wronged.
Oklahoma City Thunder:
The concept that started it all for me.
I simply moved the better (in my opinion) secondary logo to the marquee spot, using a subtly-tweaked primary wordmark.
San Antonio Spurs:
It is hard to not buy into the brand that the San Antonio Spurs churn out. Their product on the court mirrors their graphics: polished, not flashy, and effectively bland. However, there is one thing about their wordmark that has always irritated me… the “U” spur is a visual mess. It is not realistic enough to stand alone as a functional spur, which they unfortunately try to do. And as an architect by trade there are some issues with the isometric inconsistencies. The block “U” is seen from an axonometric vantage point, but the spur itself is oddly in profile. My solution: give the Spurs an actual spur illustration.
Seattle (oops) Grizzlies:
I think the Memphis Grizzlies logo is the best in the NBA today. I think the Seattle Supersonics logo was the best in the NBA during the ’80s. Maybe it is just me, but talk about best of both worlds.
Look, the Stockton/Malone era with the high shorts and the Rocky Mountain purple and sky blue are synonymous with the “Jazz,” but do not blame me for changing that. If it weren’t for a man named Jordan that team would have an untouchable identity (like the Bulls, Celtics, Lakers (oh wait, I sent them back to Minnesota). But they never did get over the hump and the current configuration of that franchise switched the team colors to the green, gold, and navy. They are visually trying to turn the page and forge new glory days. Why not give them a new name while their at it? After all, they should have relinquished the incompatible “Jazz” moniker decades ago.
New division names for the West, too, but with some realignment: Southland, Heartland, and Pacific. Arizona is squarely located in the heart of the American Southwest, yet the Phoenix Suns currently compete in the “Pacific” Division. Memphis is in the southwest corner of the state of Tennessee, but not much else. Slide the puzzle pieces around and you get a better geographically arranged Western Conference.
Stay tuned for Part II, where I will showcase the uniforms, alternate logos, and rationale behind the eight-team name swap.
Thanks Ross! OK readers, make sure you let him know what you think of his plans. And definitely stay tuned for Part II, because it’s chock full of goodness, tweaks and redesigns!
Occasionally, I will be featuring wonderful, high-quality black and white photographs that are just begging to be colorized.
Only two submissions for today, but one of them was sent to me a while back and I didn’t want to hold on to it much longer
Click on each image to enlarge.
The first comes from Pete Woychick, who took on the JRR of puck:
I found this original on Vintage Sports Pictures, which Paul ticker-linked the other day.
Willie O’Ree, “the Jackie Robinson of ice hockey,” played 2 games with the Bruins in 1957-58 and 43 more in 1960-61. Judging by the uniform (if not simple probability) this photo comes from the second stint.
And the second and final colorization comes from Paul Doherty, who colorized one of last weekend’s Father’s Day photos:
Here is a quickie colorization of a photo someone sent in for fathers day. You probably have the guys email, so, pass it along to him.
Paul M. Doherty
That’s it for today. As I said above, I know it’s a small set, but I didn’t want Pete’s colorization to sit on my inbox much longer. OK. Lets keep those colorizations coming Uni Watchers!
Because we love the stirrup here at Uni Watch, this section is devoted to those of us who sport the beautiful hose on Fridays — a trend popularized many years ago by Robert P. Marshall, III. For many of us, it’s become a bit of an obsession, but a harmless one — a reflection of our times. Where we once had Friday ties, which has been replaced by Casual Friday — we now have Stirrup Fridays. It’s an endearingly simple concept — no matter where you work (or even if you don’t) — break out a fresh pair of rups to compliment (or clash with) your Friday attire.
And now, here’s your Stirrup Fridays, making a rare Sunday appearance:
Buster is back and today he’s sportin’ the ’27 Cubs…and he still needs a home!
Here is Chris LaBella Jr in the Deer Park NY 10 year old championship game wearing the 1912 Yankees stirrups. He pitched 4 2/3 of 6 inn struck out eight and gave up two hits and his team won 2-0.
If Usain Bolt Wore Stirrups…
I went with these beauties for the first day of summer.
Here’s a shot of my wife Laura and me sporting matching 1945 KC Monarchs ‘rups after the end of our softball game was washed out. The ’45 Monarchs are a meaningful team to me as I’ve researched them, blogged about them, and last April gave a presentation at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum on them.
And here’s a blurry action shot of my stirrups in action.
Phil Santos: (submitted by Comrade Marshall)
I went to umpire the opening night of a Friday night league, and what do you know, a revolutionary was on hand in the form of Phil Santos. I love when I go to work a league, and there is someone in stirrups.
And that ends today’s look at Stirrup Friday — all of you who participate, send me your pics and a brief (~50 words) description of their relevance, and I’ll run ’em here on Saturday (and sometimes Sunday too!). Be sure to visit Robert’s House of Hose for news on rups.
And now…here’s …
Before I get to Stirrup Friday, let’s look at what is “new” with the revolution, I am re-issuing the Colt .45s and the Seattle Pilots for $14 until Wednesday. They have already been ordered to cut down on manufacturing time, but let’s still say they will take 2/3 weeks. I hope this pleases the stirruptariat.
As for stirrup Friday, I am sorry for my absence last week, but in addition to my umping 43 games a week, and my 3 mostly unwanted house guests the last couple of weeks, by day I have been a volunteer artist painting a mural in an under-served Chicago neighborhood. Not since I had the “pleasure” of working for the stained glass sweatshop entrusted with restoring the Tiffany dome at the Chicago Cultural Center, have I been so honoured to be part of a team. The lead artist, Gabriel Villa, is not only a dear friend but an idol of mine. Those familiar with Chicago artist’s might remember that Gabriel was commissioned to paint a mural on private property in Bridgeport (where the Sox play) about the Chicago Police Dept. surveillance cameras that so angered the CPD that they deemed it graffiti, cut padlocks to private property, and covered it up. So let’s just say I have been real busy, but I want to issue a winner for last week. And while it was tough, how can I pass up the wiffleball action shots of Andrew Greenwood? As for this week Aaron Stilley for the matching husband wife stirrups with the bonus “in action” shot. Congrats guys, you get a buy one get one with the revolution if you so choose.
From each according his stirrvp, to each according his strype
That will just about do it for today, but there was one interesting uni-quirk down in the nation’s capital yesterday. The Colorado Rockies, broke out their BP tops. Thanks to tips from Jerry Adams and Aaron Channon, the latter of whom wrote, “Apparently Jhoulys Chacin requested that they wear BP jerseys to break them out of a team-wide offensive slump.” The BP top is never a good look anyway, but the horridness was compounded by the Nats wearing their own softball jerseys. Some of the MLB BP jerseys look worse than others — and I think most of us would agree, it is possible the Rockies’ are the worst. Too many bumper stickers.
Unfortunately, the Rockies WON the game, so we can probably look forward to seeing this used as a slump buster again.
Thanks again to Ross for a great submission (and trust me when I say Part the Second is even better). Everyone have a great Sunday and a better week, and I will catch you next Saturday.
Follow me on Twitter @Phil Hecken.
“That’s an argument for not naming team nicknames after people whose legacy is tied to football in a particular state. You might not like what would happen if that team were to move. Better stick to animals, inanimate objects and possibly pejorative indigenous peoples.”