June 13, 2017 | Awesome

NBA Logo Playoffs

This "Reactor Reactions article was written by Marketing and Business Development intern Tyler Price. He's really cool. He's on Twitter @tylercprice_

The NBA Playoffs wrapped up last night and The Golden State Warriors are NBA Champions again. It was a historic playoff run for the Warriors and we want to congratulate them on their championship. As much as many of us here at REACTOR love sports, that’s not what we’re here to talk about today. Let’s talk design.

Watching these Playoffs over the past several weeks have reminded us how much unique design is on display in professional sports. Everything that tells the stories of these teams takes so much work and thought. The uniforms, court design, swag they give attendees, it all plays an important role in communicating each team’s identity. However, nothing is quite as easy to judge as a team’s logo. That’s why we thought it’d be a fun idea to have a playoff of our own, between each team’s logo. The seeding will follow the same structure as the NBA Playoffs themselves. The logos were all judged and voted upon by the REACTOR team. Let’s have some fun!

Western Conference-Round 1

  • Golden State Warriors vs 8.) Portland Trailblazers
  • San Antonio vs 7.) Memphis Grizzlies
  • Houston Rockets vs 6.) Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Los Angeles Clippers vs Utah Jazz

Eastern Conference-Round 1

  • Boston Celtics vs 8.) Chicago Bulls
  • Cleveland Cavaliers vs 7.) Indiana Pacers
  • Toronto Raptors vs 6.) Milwaukee Bucks
  • Washington Wizards vs 5.) Atlanta Hawks


Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trailblazers


The Warriors are NBA Champions for the second time in three years, but the same fate was not meant to be in this competition. The Warriors logo has some awesome aspects. Color choice here is really attractive but the font choice may be its downfall. The newly refreshed Trailblazers look ultimately won this one pretty handily. Portland advances.


San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies


The Spurs are historically regarded as being so good they’re boring. Their fundamentally sound play offers very little in the way of style points on the court and the same can be said of their logo. I am a pretty big Spurs fan myself, and I hate most Spurs gear because of how boring this logo look is. The Grizzlies take this one with their much fresher, stylized logo.


Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder


When it comes to basketball these teams are pretty different. The Houston Rockets are like the discount version of the Warriors, draining threes at a rabid pace. The Thunder have one trick, and his name is Russell Westbrook. Their logos are kind of the opposite. The Rockets logo is pretty minimalistic, with only one color and a main logo image that left some of us confused.1

The Thunder logo however has a lot going on. I’m counting four main colors, not including white. A shield, the team name, a basketball, and the city’s initials are all present. As far as the REACTOR staff goes, we ultimately picked the Thunder logo in this one. Sorry, Houston.

1. Someone thought the Rockets logo looks like blood dripping and that’s just disturbing.


Los Angeles Clippers vs. Utah Jazz


Here we have a showdown of two of the newest logos in the NBA. Both teams refreshed their looks within the last two seasons. The clippers made a dramatic shift with a brand new logo heading into the 2015-16 season. They changed just about everything when they changed their main wordmark, and interlocking LAC mark. While the refresh was needed, the new logo looks out of place on the front of their uniforms. The Jazz threw it back when they updated their logo heading into the 16-17 season. The new logo is a tip of the hat to the logo used from the 80s up to the mid 90s, while holding onto the navy, green and yellow colorway they had been using. We were pretty split on this one, but Utah takes it in a buzzer beater.


Chicago Bulls vs. Boston Celtics


Let’s be honest with one another, this wasn’t even close. The Celtics logo is historic and so very “Boston” but it didn’t stand a chance here. There’s too much going on in that Celtics logo and it just doesn’t translate to the 21st century very well. Not to mention that the Bulls logo is one of the most recognizable in the history of sports. The Bulls win in a sweep.


Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers


This battle was really interesting in that both teams have colorways that work really well and are pleasing to the eye, but are in logos that are pretty ugly. The Cleveland Cavs logo uses rich navy, wine and gold colors while the logo itself is kind of hard to look at for very long. Good thing they’re updating heading into the 2017-18 season. The Pacers have held onto the same “P” design since 1990 and it looks very 1990 in the worst way. These are two logos that could use some love, but the Cavs take this one by merit of having stronger colors…and LeBron James.


Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks


Two of the edgier logos in the NBA face off in this showdown. The Toronto Raptors logo is heavy in the black with silver and red accents, sans serif font choice and the “raptor scratch” on the basketball in the logo is a nice touch. The Bucks logo successfully makes a deer look more terrifying than anyone has ever made a deer look. The khaki, green and white logo is really well balanced and utilizes an attractive font choice as well. The Bucks edge out the Raptors, but I think we’d all be happier if the Bucks rolled out this throwback uniform.2



Washington Wizards vs. Atlanta Hawks


Our final first round matchup has two similar logos going up against each other. The round logo design with the word mark in the outer circle is on display in both of these designs. The wizards logo utilizes a nice balance of red, white and blue with a clever Washington Monument worked into the design. However, the Hawks use one color really well and have a sleek hawk design on the inside of the circle and that is the deciding factor. Hawks win this one.


For the sake of time, here’s how the next two rounds went up to the Finals.


Round Two

Portland Trailblazers over Utah Jazz

Memphis Grizzlies over Oklahoma City Thunder

Chicago Bulls over Atlanta Hawks

Milwaukee Bucks over Cleveland Cavaliers


Round Three

Portland Trailblazers over Memphis Grizzlies

Milwaukee Bucks over Chicago Bulls



Portland Trailblazers vs Milwaukee Bucks


Unsurprisingly the two finalists are also some of the newest designs in the NBA. These are two really cool logos with a lot of thought and effort put into aspects that are both obvious and some not so obvious. The Trailblazers new logo is a modernized and updated spin on their classic pinwheel design and was created with a lot of fan feedback. It was met with mostly positive reviews. The Bucks have been using their new look since the 2015-2016 season and it has also been really popular amongst fans. The images in the logo were designed to invoke pride in the city of Milwaukee and the franchise itself. The update Bucks logo was picked as the winner here at REACTOR but it was a tight contest. Ultimately these logos remind us how important it is to have a well thought out and designed image for any brand to align with. Sure, some of these are better than others. But that doesn’t mean that the ones that lost are without meaning. Aligning design with the identity of a brand, client or entire city is what sets awesome design apart from simply good design. That’s what we believe in here at REACTOR as well.




All images sourced courtesy of Wikipedia.