Power Ranking the Best Center-Court Logos in the NBA

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2012

Power Ranking the Best Center-Court Logos in the NBA

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    There's a lot to be said when an NBA team takes its home court and turns it into a beautiful piece of art. There are some, like the Celtics' floor parquet, that become a part of Americana. Another option is flipping over to the increasingly popular two-toned floor, which really took off with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    Thankfully, no team has made its court an ugly distraction like the jungle that is the floorboard pattern for the Oregon Ducks, but some NBA teams have gone to over-the-top designs and gimmicks to be different.

    Of course, what pulls the court together is the logo in the center. It's the first thing you see when you look at the floor, and it immediately registers in your mind as a good or bad decision.

    Some of the diagrams in the coming slides may have discrepancies with details on the court, but the center-court logos should all be up to date.

30. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Perhaps the Oklahoma City Thunder are too distracted with, you know, their excellent basketball team to overhaul the team's look, but they need to bring someone in who has nothing to do with the basketball operations of the team and get them to change everything aesthetically related to this team.

    Besides the fact that they have the plainest and most boring jerseys in the NBA, their center-court logo looks like it was put together by a 13-year-old using WordArt for the first time.

    The typeface for the "Thunder" is a bland and skinny arch, while the center-court logo is nothing more than the city's initials and a basketball with a bit of flair behind it.

    It's time to make it known that this is more than just a relocated basketball team. They need to completely overhaul the look of this floor and make it a place for the Thunder to call home, rather than the place that the old SuperSonics moved to.

29. Charlotte Bobcats

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    The Bobcats got rid of what was the worst court in the NBA, but they didn't have much of an upgrade there.

    The old logo was no more than the team's name with a profile of an orange bobcat, but at least that was recognizable when you looked at it long enough.

    The cat they have in the middle of the floor now looks no different than a household cat with some fierce-looking eyes. To top it all off, they've gone with the cliché that every team seems to chase these days and morphed half the logo into a basketball.

    Charlotte at least went for a bit of a renovation, so I'll give it some credit there, although it didn't earn a lot of it with the court it has today.

28. Miami Heat

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    If you want to take a stab at having one of the worst center-court logos in the NBA, the best way to go about it is mimic whatever logo is on your jersey, especially if it's already a bland logo, and make it big enough that a player with some range could shoot threes from it if he felt like it.

    Now, Miami is at a disadvantage already considering how hard it is to make a logo out of a team called the Heat, but it's not like it didn't have a choice in the matter.

    It just goes to show, however, that some things are extremely unimportant in the long run, and it's not always about style. The Heat won a title; I'm sure their fans won't have much to be disappointed over if they don't win the fake contest for the best center-court logo in the NBA.

27. Milwaukee Bucks

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    Perhaps it's the fact that the Bucks' color scheme has never been attractive, even when there was a bunch of purple involved.

    Perhaps it's the fact that their logo is about two feet too big in every direction.

    Perhaps it's the fact that it's just a big freaking deer in the middle of their court.

    Whatever it is, Milwaukee's logo in the middle of its court is just plain ugly.

    It's hard to think of something else to put in a logo when your team's nickname is an animal, but the straightforward picture of a buck just isn't working out for them.

    Maybe it's time to get creative like Toronto did when it changed its court over to the raptor claw logo.

    Go for a profile of the buck, or even the hoof if you want to blatantly copy Toronto. However, if they gave me a couple buckets of paint and a few hours on the court, I'd just go with the antlers. It's simple, it's different and it's effective.

26. Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Long team nickname spelled out across midcourt? Check. Enormous lettering? Check. Additional graphics in the background? Check. Yep, we've got ourselves a terrible logo here, folks.

    The problem with Cleveland's midcourt logo, besides the obvious fact that it nearly touches the top of each three-point line, is the fact that it's not subtle whatsoever. It either needs to be simple, which this is not, or subtle, which this definitely is not.

    A more pragmatic option would have been to just take the logo they have inside each three-point line and make that their center-court logo. It would waste a lot less paint and be more effective than what they've got now.

25. Dallas Mavericks

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    The Mavericks pretty much went with the classic late '90s, early 2000s logo when they switched to their current court a few years back. Instead of just throwing the team name out there or a little logo, they decided to mix their logo with a basketball.

    As if it weren't already obvious that this is a court for a basketball team.

    They have a good start to a center-court logo with the horse in a different fashion than in any other logo they have, but a terrible finish by filling out the rest of the circle with a clichéd basketball.

    This one needs to go back to the drawing board, but there are a few aspects that do work.

24. Sacramento Kings

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    It's big, bold and brash, but there isn't much about the Kings' center-court logo that screams beautiful along with those other "B's."

    I do like where the logo is headed; it doesn't try to do too much with an over-the-top cartoon in the middle of their court, but it ended up being more of a foul tip than an extra-base hit.

    What needs to be done with the Kings' logo is a bit of a tweak. Keep with the idea of it just saying "Kings," but instead of having it span such a large area, back it down to about two-thirds that size. Keep the crown dotting the "i", but instead of the jagged typeface, go with something that seems a bit more regal.

    Oh, and for good measure, force the Maloofs to sell the team; that'll make anything look better in Sacramento.

23. Indiana Pacers

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    There's nothing really overtly bad about the Pacers' midcourt logo, but it's so bland and unimaginative that there's not much to remember about it either.

    It does have simplicity down to a science, but it's almost too simple, if that's possible. What they have is the smallest center-court logo of any team in the NBA, and with the color of their court, the yellow and white seem to clash against the dark boards.

    I'd say the best thing to do here is get rid of everything but the Pacers logo. It might not be original, but if they're going for simplicity, just take that Pacers "P" and blow it up to a size a little bigger than the current circle.

    For the love of all that is good, just stay away from putting anything race-car-related on the court; that is just a disaster waiting to happen.

22. Memphis Grizzlies

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    The shadowed mascot strikes again. We've already seen one case of a team taking its mascot and plastering its face on the hardwood with one side in shadow with the Bobcats, but the effect doesn't really do much for the overall look of the logo.

    What the shadow attempts to add is a bit of ferocity to the bear on the court, but the yellow eyes seem to do plenty of that.

    I like that the Grizzlies went ahead and put something down that wasn't really on anything other than a few team hats, but the shadow definitely takes away from the overall look of the logo.

21. Minnesota Timberwolves

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    If I'm going after shadows, I might as well get the Timberwolves out of the way now as well. However, I'm going the opposite direction for this one. While the Grizzlies could have done better with no shadow, Minnesota needs to go the other direction and put the logo completely in the shade.

    Ever since the Timberwolves went to the frighteningly jagged typeface in 1996, they've always seemed like a team trying to make the most frightening logos possible. The only logical step to take from there would be to put the logo in complete darkness so you can only see the yellow of its eyes and the red and white of its mouth.

    Of course, I'm also a fan of their original team logo, when silver was a bigger part of the color scheme, but there weren't many glory days to be had in the early '90s in Minnesota, so I doubt that comes back.

20. Los Angeles Clippers

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    We're only 10 logos in, and I'm already down to only good logos. I guess that means that most of the teams have it figured out.

    What the Clippers have done to their team over the past few years is complete improvement, from the simplest things like court design, team uniforms and complex to the actual players on the court. Of course, a new coach and a new owner wouldn't hurt.

    What we've got here is a classic-looking cursive "Clippers" at midcourt with nothing else necessary. They've shied away from pumping it full of color and used subtle blue outlines to make it pop with the rest of the court, which is just well done.

19. San Antonio Spurs

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    San Antonio has had a wonderful court for years now, but it hasn't done anything to it in order to catch up with the rest of the league.

    The midcourt logo is a classic at this point, as it has remained unchanged for many years. There are few teams who implement a better color combination and have a clever little infusion of a symbol into the words on their court, using a spur to form the "U."

    It's a perfect size, the tipoff circle being noticeable in a thick black ring is nice and it speaks to the simplicity and the subtle complexity of the team as a whole.

18. Phoenix Suns

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    While I'm not a fan of using a basketball as the focal point of a team logo, the way Phoenix uses it is pretty cool.

    Whether it's the color scheme or the fact that it ditches using "Phoenix" or "Suns" across the center of the court, the court just ends up being intensified by a huge factor thanks to the center logo.

    It's a bit gimmicky, sure, and it's never really clever to use a basketball as the main portion of a logo, but if you're going to do it, then this is the way to go about it.

17. Houston Rockets

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    The Rockets' radical transformation from hanging on to the cartoonish ways of the '90s to the sleek, streamlined looks of the 2000s was possibly one of the best changes to their team after they drafted Yao Ming.

    Instead of a rocket taking off in the middle of their court, they've got an "R" in a typeface clever enough to make the upstroke of the letter look a bit like a rocket itself seemingly taking off from a launching pad.

    That, combined with the effective use of the two-toned court (going as far as to make the key the same color as the area outside the three-point line) makes this one of the most visually pleasing center logos in the NBA.

16. Chicago Bulls

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    I love the bull in the center of the court for Chicago's floor at the United Center, but I absolutely hate the regular-colored basketball.

    The bull is a fierce logo with tons of history behind it, making it one of the best in the NBA, but it's negated by the basketball that clashes so much with the rest of the court.

    I wish I could take the basketball off the center of their court forever and just leave the bull, which would instantly make this one of the five best center-court logos in the league. Alas, the basketball haunts every other court in the NBA and won't go away.

15. Toronto Raptors

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    After they dabbled in using the most cartoonish creation possible for their uniforms in the late '90s, the Raptors finally came to their senses and settled down a bit. Besides all that, they decided that the deep purple they used was a little over-the-top as well.

    The new combination of the subtle creation of a raptor claw (paw? hand? foot?) with a basketball that is used as more than just a fill-in for the tipoff circle is actually creative and pretty cool.

    The logo isn't too big, and the dark red works nicely, offsetting the darker floorboards used in the outer area of the two-toned court.

    While the center logo is pretty cool, I'm still undecided on the faux three-dimensional "Raptors" signs along the baseline. They're a pretty cool visual, but they really freak me out when someone stands on them.

14. Denver Nuggets

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    This is what center-court logos are supposed to be, people. The Nuggets utilize the tipoff circle without merely filling it with a basketball (although they do use a smaller basketball in the logo). Besides that, they didn't just merely plaster their main logo across the middle of the court.

    Instead of the obvious, Denver created a new little logo that it could put on everything—hats, shirts, socks, toasters, whatever—when it plastered the logo in the center of its court.

    The logo, with the gold pickaxes and the mountaintop all stuffed inside the tipoff circle, seems to be a lot more obvious as to what the Nuggets are and what the team name relates to.

13. Detroit Pistons

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    Yeah, I know I've harped the whole time here on using a bland basketball to fill the tipoff circle, but there are a few teams that do it well enough to make it look OK. Whether it's color schemes or just the subtle simplicity of it all, I still can't figure out.

    The Detroit Pistons' red, white and blue color scheme works great with the basketball in the center of the court. Using a basketball filled in with a team color is exponentially better than putting a normal-colored ball on the court.

    What really makes this center logo as good as it is is the font that spans the basketball underneath. It's got a bit of the '80s Pistons flair to it mixed with a dash of the ridiculous font the team used at the end of the '70s.

12. New Orleans Hornets

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    Once again, we've got another example of how to properly incorporate a basketball into a center-court logo. Even crazier, this is the first one we've seen in which the basketball is colored like a normal basketball and it actually looks good.

    Here we see a blue hornet holding a ball in front of a fleur-de-lis, which has become synonymous with New Orleans sports.

    The logo is an example of how a team can put something in the center of its court and it can grow into one of the best logos the team has put together to date. Perhaps a bit more of the team's gold color thrown in would be cool, but it's a pretty great logo as it stands.

11. Los Angeles Lakers

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    The Lakers are another one of the teams that utilize a basketball as the main part of a center-court logo in an effective way.

    I think what we've learned so far is that if you're going to put a basketball in the center of your court and use it as a part of your logo, don't try to blend your team's mascot into a freaky-looking centaur-like half-basketball.

    The Lakers' center-court logo has become an iconic one over the years, and one of the more interesting things about it is the slant of the basketball. Instead of being a straightforward painting of a basketball, it's got a bit of a rotation on it so it can get some depth.

10. Washington Wizards

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    Washington just updated its court last season, deciding to go with the continually popular two-toned floor, rather than the straightforward base color all across the court. This is one of the more effective two-tones in the league.

    Its center-court logo might be the best part of it all, however. Rather than trying something overly creative like teams would have done a decade ago, Washington simplified.

    What it ended up with is a simple "Wizards" across the middle of the court. While it's a long logo, Washington makes up for it by keeping it from being exceptionally tall. Throw in a cool font, an inexplicably cool grey tipoff circle and a basketball dotting the "i," and you've got yourself one neat-looking logo.

9. Philadelphia 76ers

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    A beautiful color scheme mixed with a throwback to the past and a basketball used as a background, not as half an animal, makes for one stellar-looking center logo.

    What stands at the middle of the Wells Fargo Center is the key to one of the best courts in the NBA—a far cry from the days when Philadelphia had a goofy field of stars across its uniforms.

    The thing that makes the 76ers logo great is the fact that they've never really tried to overhaul it and create something new. What you see now is the same thing that was on caps and shirts back in 1977. I guess it's true: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

8. Orlando Magic

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    This is truly one of the most unique logos in the NBA. The Magic are the only team in the NBA that has been able to take its ridiculous-looking logo of the '90s and carry it over into the sleek and streamlined looks of the current decade.

    It's adorned with stars, a sparkling basketball with a trail behind it, jagged, Magic Marker-looking typeface and a teeny-tiny "Orlando" arching across the first three letters in "Magic", but it all comes together and works well. By all means it should look terrible from the sound of it, but it's truly well done.

    What makes it even cooler is the fact that Orlando tried to pull off the parquet floor. It seems even crazier, but even that seems to work with Orlando's center logo and the court as a whole.

7. New York Knicks

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    There's something epic about the Knicks' center-court logo, and I mean epic in the sense of impending greatness coming, not in the nonchalantly annoying way 'tweens throw it around these days (excuse me while I shoo some children off my lawn).

    It's the closest any team comes to using a normal-colored basketball as the center of its court and still looking good, but thankfully the team threw the Knicks orange on there instead. 

    What really makes this all work well together is the Broadway-looking typeface of the "Knicks" that makes it look like it's flying right out of the court, no matter how WordArt-ish it ends up looking.

6. Utah Jazz

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    The Jazz brought back one of the best logos in the history of sports a few years ago when they revamped their court, getting rid of the huge mountains that lingered from the Karl Malone days.

    What they have now is the music note "J" accompanied by the sleek-looking "azz" in a perfect amount of space in the center of the court.

    What's more, they throw a tri-toned basketball into the music note, something no other team has dared to try at this point.

5. Atlanta Hawks

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    The Hawks did themselves a favor when they went to finish painting the court, filling the basketball in with a flat grey-ish color. With that, the makings of an awesome center-court logo were complete.

    As far as throwing an animal out in the middle of your court, Atlanta did it right in deciding to go with the whole thing and not just a face shot or a portion of the animal as it fades into a basketball.

    The Hawk looks fierce, and it's not clear if it's just going to carry the basketball off into the night or dig into it with its talons and pop it.

4. Brooklyn Nets

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    I'll go ahead and admit it: I'm starting to like the Nets based on the changes made to the team's logo and uniforms alone. The fact that another team adopted the flat black-and-white combination is a relief.

    The fact that the team is the only one in the NBA with the herringbone pattern, completely revamping the idea of a two-toned court in the process, is cool enough. The center logo just puts it all over the top.

    It's simple enough with a black base and white lettering, a big black "B" and an outlined basketball in the center with white panels, but what really sets it all off is the white border. It's a finishing touch that makes it all work together well.

    Bravo, Nets.

3. Portland Trail Blazers

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    Portland's center logo is downright amazing. For the life of me, I don't know what the logo is, but it's damn cool. I know it's a pinwheel-type design with five streaking lines of each color to represent five players on each team; other than that, it just looks like cool swirling colors to me.

    The best thing about the center-court logo for Portland is that the pinwheel design kind of looks like a "P," a "T" and a "B" if you look at it in different ways, subtly throwing out the team's initials without even putting a single actual letter in the middle of the court.

    It's also one of the few logos that is tall rather than wide, making it stand out from other logos around the league even more.

2. Golden State Warriors

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    The springtime colors never cease to make me smile when I see this big baby blue and yellow beauty staring at me from the center of the court at Oracle Arena.

    The Warriors are another team that has rarely tried to change its logo much (although during the entire 2000s we got to stare at a basketball-playing knight, which was nice and weird), but when they threw little tweaks around, it seemed to constantly improve.

    With the offset new Bay Bridge spanning the tipoff circle and the light blue surrounding it—which is in turn surrounded by a floating circle of light blue put together with the thin "Golden State" atop the circle and the thick "Warriors" beneath—this logo is banging on the door for tops in the NBA.

1. Boston Celtics

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    There is no more iconic center logo in all the NBA than the leprechaun spinning a basketball on his finger in the middle of the TD Garden in Boston. It's one of the most iconic logos in sports plastered atop one of the most recognizable courts in the NBA.

    What the parquet floor does for the center logo is the same thing it does for the rest of the court: It makes it pop and stand out more than it would otherwise.

    Besides the obvious that is the logo itself, it's the only arena in the NBA that has a basketball in some way involved in the design of the center logo, but actually used as a basketball should be, not just as a part of the design.

    There are few things that could beat this beauty, and it's going to take a lot of history and style for a team to one day dethrone the logo in the middle of the court in Boston.

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