In this edition of The Vault we travel back in time to Y2K. Inspired by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's remarks this week about the NBA D-League, we revisit a logo in Fanbrandz history that, ironically, has been in existence since the same year Cuban bought the Mavs: the NBA D-League logo man.
It was the year 2000 and as Cuban was signing his $285MM purchase agreement to buy the Mavs from Ross Perot Jr., Fanbrandz Principal Bill Frederick was working with then-NBA Creative Director, long-time colleague and friend Tom O'Grady (currently of Gameplan Creative) to develop David Stern's and Adam Silver's vision for the look and brand of the very first NBA D-League.
"Bill did a great job designing the D-League logo," O'Grady, who was Senior VP, Creative Director at NBA for 13 years, said. "At the initial discovery phase there was a lot of searching for where the Developmental League logo was going to land. When we got the mandate back from Commissioner Stern that in fact the league would be called "NBDL," we had our marching orders, so from there, Bill, as Fanbrandz always does, went back and developed a series of really wide ranging sketches that made the development process really easy."
The logo silhouette that was unveiled in 2001 (pictured above) is still in place 13 years later today. An interesting fact that most people don't know is that while the NBA logo man is rumored to be a caricature of Jerry West, the D-League logo man is actually a "Frankenstein" model of multiple at-the-time-of-design active players in the NBA. The logo's ascending about-to-dunk action is symbolic of the determined philosophy D-League players possess, and a symbol that the younger generation of basketball players can easily relate to.
"The angle of the leaning, dunking logo man was influenced by the italicised font treatment Bill applied," O'Grady said, "which then created the angle and shift of the box. Once we settled on the pose, it wasn't as arduous a project as others that I can recall during my time at NBA."
The D-League doesn't regularly get national headlines, but the way Cuban has been talking it very well could be in for more attention than it's gotten in the past 13 years -- while the NCAA and NBA continue to find a balance with prospective high school NBA-caliber players.
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