Led by Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving, there is a growing chorus of voices calling on the NBA to change its logo from a silhouette of Jerry West to the late Kobe Bryant. The latest person to join it? Lakers governor Jeanie Buss.
Buss co-signed the idea on Twitter after Kobe’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, endorsed Irving’s idea on Instagram earlier this week:
I agree with Vanessa Bryant. Kobe set a standard and players agree too. Let me know what you think. https://t.co/5dpMGZuDKA— Jeanie Buss (@JeanieBuss) February 26, 2021
Irving isn’t the only player who feels this way, but after Thursday night’s Nets game, he spent a little over two minutes thoughtfully expanding on his reasoning for thinking the NBA should honor Bryant:
“Well, No. 1, I think as a native Black man, as a native Black king, I think it’s part of my responsibility to continue to push our generation and our culture forward. I know that it probably was met with some people that love the idea, and some people that don’t like it, but my thing is paying homage to the example that has been set by that man... He was the standard for our generation, and he will continue on, and I want that to be something in history that is changed forever, that our generation was part of that change. And if that means that I have to lead that forward and get the conversation going, then great, but I think he deserves it. I think his family deserves it. I think we deserve it, seeing greatness personified as Mamba. And anyone that’s coming into the league should know that that’s the example that was set.
“And I’m only saying that just speaking about Kob’. I don’t want to discredit any of our other historical players that have done amazing things for the league. I’m not discrediting anyone when I say that Kob’ should be the logo, because we have so many examples of guys that did things on and off the floor that were leaps and bounds (to lead) us to where we are now. I’m just saying present day. It was 2/24 (when I posted that), so a year after the memorial, and it’s just a refresher that this is the guy for us. He’s the guy for me. He’s my mentor, more than just an inspiration. I took a lot of knowledge and wisdom from that guy, and he’s always around me. And Gigi is always around me, and I know that in the women’s game we want to continue to push things forward, but in our game too, we want to set a standard and precedent, like ‘this is excellence.’ Kobe Bryant. Logo. Yes. Needs to happen. I don’t care what anyone says. Black kings built the league. That’s exactly what I meant, and that’s exactly what I said.”
"It needs to happen. I don't care what anyone says. Black kings built the league."— ESPN (@espn) February 26, 2021
Kyrie Irving on why he wants the NBA logo to be changed to Kobe Bryant: pic.twitter.com/6EG1bYYy3h
And in addition to Irving’s impassioned plea, Buss agreeing with this idea — as the primary governor of an NBA team with a voice in league decisions — certainly does make this feel like it is more possible than it did a few days ago, or even a year ago when some people first spoke out after Bryant passed. She is clearly respected by her peers at the helms of teams and NBA commissioner Adam Silver, so it at the very least certainly can’t hurt this movement for her to co-sign along with Vanessa and Irving.
But as legitimate as Irving’s point is in broad strokes — it is at least a little weird that a league that is made up of nearly 75% Black players has a white guy from the 1960’s as the logo in 2020 — actually getting this changed feels fairly unlikely. My colleague James Dator explained all the complicated and multifaceted reasons why the logo is unlikely to change from West to Bryant at length for SB Nation yesterday, and they range from complicated likeness issues that stem from the NBA never acknowledging that West was the logo (and thus not having to pay him), to the recognizability of the current icon, as well as Bryant’s own personal history, mainly being accused of sexual assault in 2003 (he settled out of court and the charges were dropped).
And the reality also is that no matter how much Irving, Buss and Vanessa all want this to happen, it’s just not a movement that has broad support right now, as the data from our latest SB Nation Reacts poll shows. Of all the NBA fans we asked, only 35% supported the idea to change the logo to Bryant.
Now maybe the support of such influential NBA figures changes the calculus here for the league, but until we hear otherwise, it’s probably best to just assume that the logo is going to stay the way it is, no matter how these important people feel.