The Precarious World of Pro Sports Branding

(Photo Credit - Charles Rex Arbogast)

(Photo Credit – Charles Rex Arbogast)

I love John Wall. That kid helped save Kentucky from the Billy Gillispie death spiral, and turned into a recruiting springboard that Calipari could use to keep the recruiting freight train that is Kentucky Basketball rolling.

Billy - "C'mon man!! Will the cheap shots never end?!?!" No Billy... they won't... (Photo Credit - Chris O'Meara)

Billy – “C’mon man!! Will the cheap shots never end?!?!” No Billy… they won’t… (Photo Credit – Chris O’Meara)

So anyway I’ve had a lot of fun watching this Wizards team knock out the Bulls. I forgot just how beautifully John Wall moves on a basketball court and how easy he makes it look. The guy is like a freaking ice dancer out there. Its beautiful to watch. However, I’ve actually enjoyed watching the entire process of the Wizard’s rebuild and re-branding that started in 2010 with the drafting of Johnny Wonder. I watched the NBA lottery that year and rooted for Washington to get the #1 pick the whole time. I always pay attention to whose gonna get drafted by the Wizards and who they bring in during the offseason. Most of the time that was a miserable cast of Nick Youngs and Andre Blatches, but this year they finally figured something out. And what’s more, that something is hilarious and fun to watch! I mean.. the Polish Hammer ALONE is enough to make me love this team. Who doesn’t love a big sloppy white eastern European center!

Look at this guy! You embrace that nickname you beautiful man you!

Look at this guy! You embrace that nickname you beautiful man you!

SO ferocious! Noone can stand in his way!

SO ferocious! Noone can stand in his way!

But he also has a tender side! He's the full package!

But he also has a tender side! He’s the full package!

So anyway, between Wall and Gortat I clearly approve of the Wizards’ roster overhaul. That’s not the only thing that changed though. In 1997 Abe Pollin announced that Washington’s NBA team would no longer be known as the Bullets. It was decided that in the wake of the “war on guns” and in light of the area’s extreme problems with gun crimes a name like “bullet” sent a bad message to young kids in the area watching the NBA. Now, this would all be fine and well, but they made two atrocious mistakes in re-branding their team. One was changing the colors away from red white and blue… there was no reason for this! And the other was choosing their new name… the Wizards… I’m a big proponent of team names fitting their area. So for instance I think the St. Louis Blues might be the best name in sports right now, and the New Orleans Jazz was the best sports name ever conceived (DAMMIT UTAH!!! GIVE NEW ORLEANS THEIR NAME BACK!!! Just become the Utah Mormons already). Wizards though? As far as I know there are no Gandalfs or Dumbeldores in Washington…

Look at this shit show. The colors... the concept... its all terrible... in fact, I would venture so far as to say this is a hate crime against Wizards everywhere. Someone contact Hogwarts and let's get litigious on this atrocity!

Look at this shit show. The colors… the concept… its all terrible… in fact, I would venture so far as to say this is a hate crime against Wizards everywhere. Someone contact Hogwarts and let’s get litigious on this atrocity!

HOWEVER starting in the 2011-2012 season the Washington Professional Basketball Team (copyright Bill Simmons and Joe House) reverted back to their original colors of Red White and Blue. This is only fitting seeing as they play in our nation’s capital. Now, they didn’t change the team name, but hopefully that’s in the works. They did, however, change something else to disastrous effect… the team logo…

wizards_alt_logo_hand

Ok so there are definitely some good things here. I like the simplicity of it. I love associating with DC and the subtlety of the basketball reference. However… and there’s no way to put this lightly… but… that, my friends… is clearly a phallus… there’s no way around it… *sigh*

I don’t know what this says about me but I realized this immediately a couple years ago when they launched this thing. I can’t believe I’m the only one, but apparently nobody in the Wizards organization realizes this. Either that or they already rolled it out and are now in full on ostrich head in the sand mode.

Ostrich Wizard

Now I assume they rolled out this logo with a couple things in mind. First it hearkens back to the old Bullets logo, and second its nondescript enough that if they do change the team name they can at least keep the logo. It associates with the team and the city but not the ‘mascot’ or ‘nickname’ so it left their options open. However… I think a redesign is necessary guys.

Clearly they drew inspiration for the "hands reaching for the ball" thing from their own logo, even if they didn't think things all the way through.

Clearly they drew inspiration for the “hands reaching for the ball” thing from their own logo, even if they didn’t think things all the way through.

I realize logos, nicknames, and colors shouldn’t matter to me. These are all branding things. They’re developed by marketing guys who just want my money. What should really matter is the team, the players, the history. However, this stuff has always mattered to me and always will. Teams that are associated with their area’s history and background just resonate better with me. The Cowboys in Dallas, The Bison in North Dakota, the Steelers in Pittsburgh. These are just great and they blow the Toronto Raptors (chosen because Jurassic Park was hot at the time and they thought it would make kids force their parents to buy the gear) or the Charlotte Bobcats (chosen by then owner Bob Johnson because he wanted his name to be included in the team name…). So I really hope the Wizards go through with this renaming thing, and redesign the logo while they’re at it. Then I can go back to being a bandwagon fan from afar of my beloved John Wall and Marcin Gortat. Otherwise this picture of Marcin Gortat cupping two balls will be forever tainted for me… and I just can’t have that.

gortat

 

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