Switching gears from the normal “holy cow check out the details on this sports news story hey!” formula. It’s a Friday and we’ve got something different and interesting. None of the details have changed since 1991 - and even then, not materially since 1982. You call it “old news,” we call it “evergreen.” Semantics: good for business, good for you.
The guys over at BOTH TEAMS PLAYED HARD recently started a study on ranking the NBA logos from worst to first (hey, it’s the offseason), and we expected to see the Clippers near the bottom. Sure enough, they’re at #26 - but is it warranted?
A fellow ShareBro over at SLC DUNK pointed out to us earlier today (and as BTPH also dutifully noticed) that the Clippers and Lakers had surprisingly similar logos. We looked at them next to each other - as shown above - then shrugged our shoulders and said “eh.” But there’s something to it, as a simple but elegant adjustment will show below the break.
Okay, those two logos? Let’s just switch up the colors and take another look.
Mm-hmm. Now we’re talking.
Again, this isn’t a recent development; the Clippers have had that very same logo in their 25 years in Los Angeles, and their logo in San Diego was marginally different. Likewise, the Lakers have essentially had the same logo since 1961, changing only in the early ’90s to change the orientation of the basketball for some reason.
But what does it all mean, Basil?
Recall that in 1982, the Lakers were in their absolute heyday, embroiled in one of the all-time great rivalries in sports with the Boston Celtics. The Celts probably got the best of them in that rivalry, but the Lakers’ profile in LA and nationwide couldn’t have been higher.
So when the Clip Show moved to San Diego in ‘78, it became clear that they existed and functioned as part of the larger Laker narrative. Therefore, after their boating-themed logo, appropriately, sank, they switched to the motiony-looking ripoff. The logo reflected a “Lakers Lite” sensibility, a “Like the Lakers but don’t have money? Watch the Clippers!” message.
This was best spelled out in a Robin Harris standup routine called “Lakers vs. Clippers.” There’s no embeddable version of the 1:02 clip, which may be a good thing considering the language, but if there’s no kids or co-workers around, listen to part of it here.
But why, if the Clippers were basing their identity off the Lakers back then, haven’t they changed their branding in a quarter-century since? Well, Donald Sterling’s the owner, and that man doesn’t spend a dime that he doesn’t have to. Why would he care what the team wears? That’s our thought, anyway.
Either way, we want to see this similarity spur a lawsuit. Not because we think there’s any merit to the claim, of course, but it would be hilarious. That’s all.