Yesterday the NBA basketball team formerly known as the New Jersey Nets officially released their new logo, taking a crucial step in the process of re-branding this franchise as it moves its home base from New Jersey to Brooklyn.
The now Brooklyn Nets have been a fairly well traveled basketball club since their inception in 1967 as a member of the American Basketball Association. In '67 the team played in New Jersey, but were called the New Jersey Americans for one season until they moved to Long Island in 1968 and began calling themselves the New York Nets. These New York Nets then merged with the National Basketball Association in 1976 and would end up moving back to New Jersey in 1977, presumably because the NBA already had a basketball team in New York called the Knickerbockers. The franchise was then appropriately re-named the New Jersey Nets and would remain in the Garden State until now.
Now the Nets will make their home in the brand new Barclay's Center being built in Brooklyn and it will be the first major professional sports team to represent Brooklyn since the storied and highly celebrated Brooklyn Dodgers played baseball there in the late 1950's. The Dodgers' departure from Brooklyn in 1957 devastated the city and according to some, even influenced the general decline of the area in the 60's and 70's.
Thus, there is a lot of pressure on the Nets to bring back sports excitement and a new tradition of winning to a place that enjoyed one of the most famous franchises in the history of American professional sports. That will be easier said than done, but the Nets have been diligently planning and strategizing for their new future. Each change has slowly but surely lent credibility to the Nets efforts to sell an "All New" franchise. Their new ownership group includes rapper/producer Jay-Z and is led by a rugged and outspoken Russian billionaire whom already predicted a championship for this franchise in the very near future. In 2010, the Nets hired an up and coming head coach with a great basketball mind, championship experience and a passion for the game and winning. Shortly after the head coaching hire, the team's long time president resigned and was replaced by an experienced former general manager with a fresh perspective.
Despite some recent failed efforts to lure superstar free agents or broker a trade for an all-star franchise player, the current Nets roster is equipped with young, high-potential talent. In 2011 the team pulled the trigger on a trade to acquire floor leader and point guard, Deron Williams. Williams is a talented and versatile player that can score almost at will when needed and runs an efficient offense that make his teammates better when he is on the court. Unfortunately, the question surrounding Deron Williams is if he will still be a part of the team when the Nets take the court in Brooklyn for the first time. When this season is officially over Williams becomes a free agent, which grants him the freedom to choose which team he wants to play for. Being the face of a rejuvenated franchise in a large and popular new market may sound enticing and I am sure there is a boat load of money that will come with that, but most players want to win championships and without some additional help for Williams, the Brooklyn Nets are likely to once again find themselves in the basement of the Eastern Conference standings, just as they have for the past five seasons.
For the past several years, in spite of losing seasons the Nets have been positioning some of their proverbial chess pieces to help create a new culture and tradition for the ballclub as they prepared for the big move. The beautiful, brand new state of the art sports complex is being finished as we speak, leaving only a few major milestones to accomplish before the concept of the Brooklyn Nets feels like it has come to fruition. One of those milestones was the official release of the new logo and with that we got to see the overall picture come into clearer focus. We have not yet seen the official uniforms, but various merchandise donning the new brand and color scheme is already for sale and early reaction seems to suggest that it will be a hit and potentially even a fashion trend thanks to the likelihood that Jay-Z will be promoting and sporting the apparel himself.
In my opinion, the new logo is bold in more ways than one. It is strong, deliberate and straight to the point. It's lack of color is perhaps the strongest statement not only because it strays so far from almost any other team logo, but because it's colorless and simplistic appearance gives it a more classic or traditional feel. At first I wasn't very impressed with it, especially when I found out that Jay-Z basically developed it on his own. In fact, I can still understand the point of view of those that felt it leaves something to be desired. At first glance I can even see how one would think it looks very amateur as far as design is concerned. However to be fair, I think I was more surprised initially because of how different it was from most typical new logo designs. Now that I have had the chance to absorb it and collect my thoughts, I not only like it more, but all things considered I think it was actually a smart marketing decision.
Whether you personally like it or not, it is hard to deny that it looks like a throwback logo from the late 1950's and 60's. It possesses none of the modern day design conventions that we have become accustomed to seeing; no drop shadows, no three-dimensional perspective elements, no glossy finishes or fancy fonts. The fact that there is no color may even be a nod to a time in our country when televisions did not broadcast in color, which also coincides with the last time there was a pro sports team in Brooklyn. That may be overly conceptualizing the reason behind the minimalist color scheme, but the new Brooklyn logo certainly looks older than the Nets' last one and I believe this was done purposely to express an 'old school' or classic look because it honors and acknowledges the rich sports history of Brooklyn while still being fresh and new at the same time. In fact, for something 'fresh and new', it even manages to maintain the general shape and feel of their last logo since after all, they're still the Nets. The only thing I think I would have liked even better, is if the 'B' in the basketball was closer to the font used to create the 'B' on the old Dodger caps. Either way, exciting times are on the horizon for the NBA, the Nets and their fans. So while New York gets another team, unfortunately for New Jersey, the state has now been left with only the Devils of the NHL for professional sports teams. Don't worry New Jersey, I'll continue to call the football Giants and Jets your teams until they start playing their home games in the state they claim to represent.