To celebrate Black History Month, Turner’s Bleacher Report teamed up with artist Hebru Brantley to redesign the logos of all 30 NBA teams from Atlanta to Washington. Brantley researched Negro League logos as well as the history of every NBA city for inspiration.
“Everything that happens historically doesn’t necessarily translate within one small design,” Brantley told Bleacher Report Magazine. “History is long and long-winded sometimes, so it’s hard to pick apart a moment and make it clear from an aesthetics standpoint, but I looked at pivotal moments and certain individuals that can be represented with these teams and logos and become sort of the rebranded version of this team.”
Obviously, some NBA cities have richer black histories to explore than others, but Brantley managed to encapsulate important moments from each city.
Here’s a look at a few of Brantley’s redesigned logos as well as some insight into what inspired the artwork.
Brantley’s revision of the Celtics’ leprechaun logo is a call back to William Lloyd Garrison and Isaac Knapp’s anti-slavery newspaper, The Liberator, which the young newspaperman launched in 1831. That paper in turn inspired Frederick Douglass’ The North Star, which he started on Dec. 3, 1847.Here’s the Celtics’ actual logo:
Brantley took Brooklyn’s relatively staid black-and-white logo and went in an entirely different direction, inspired by Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.” Lee’s 1989 movie depicted the racial tensions of the time, and that arguably still persist today.
In Brantley’s mind, the Chicago Bulls become the Chicago Defenders. The name is a reference to another abolitionist newspaper, the Chicago Defender, started in 1905 by Robert S. Abbott.
The Denver Nuggets’ name remains the same under Brantley’s treatment, but the new logo references the fact that after the Civil War, as many as one-third of cowboys in the West were black. Many of them were former slaves.
The Golden State Warriors become the Golden State Panthers in Brantley’s hands, a nod to the Bay Area as the birthplace of the Black Panthers, founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in 1966.
Brantley turns the Indiana Pacers into the Gary 5 in homage to the Jackson 5, perhaps Motown’s most famous act, who hailed from Gary.
Brantley throws out the Los Angeles Lakers altogether and instead creates the Compton Rebels. The logo was inspired by NWA’s debut album “Straight Outta Compton,” which just last year was also the title if an Oscar-nominated movie about the group, which included Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Eazy-E.Brantley broke out nationally in 2016 after teaming up with Grammy-winning Best New Artist Chance the Rapper on the video for Chance’s song “Angels” off his album “Coloring Book.”
The video features Chance as Brantley’s popular character Flyboy, who is found in art installations all around Chicago.
To see all 30 logos and learn a bit about the history of each city, head to Bleacher Report Magazine.