The NBA Logo Ranking Project:
#13 – New York Knicks

I love the Knicks. I hate their current logo.

I have always hated their current logo. It is an ugly triangle with absolutely no whimsy. It is the least fun thing I have ever seen. It is an imitation art-deco clusterfuck of a logo with harsh lines, jagged edges and unnecessary complexity. The current Knicks logo was actually the perfect logo for the disjointed teams put forth by Scott Layden and Isiah Thomas, but that’s not exactly a good thing.

The Knicks logo has actually had two major revisions. It was once a fun but confusing drawing of a Knickerbocker, which is both a descriptor of the Dutch settlers who discovered New York and the type of pants that they wore. Is that silly? Of course it is. Not silly enough to change when you consider that there aren’t many lakes in Los Angeles, but the team did change it in 1963. Oh well . . .

The next revision of the Knick logo was the charming “parachute” design for the 1964-65 season. It was an extreme change from the previous logo and color scheme, which I always have problems with, but you can’t deny that it is a quality logo. The parachute gets more love because it is associated with the greatest success in the team’s history. Why did they decide to change this logo in the summer after Pat Riley’s team almost beat a far superior Bulls team in 1992? I suspect that the change was in the works well before that fun ’92 playoff run as a sort of karma-shift from the depressing Stu Jackson/John McLeod teams, but the plan probably should have been abandoned after Pat Riley proved that the only real way to change the culture of a team is to run it well. Oh well . . .

Please allow me to digress for a moment into my family history so that I can explain to you what I expect from a sports team logo. Once you understand my point of view, I hope that you will hate the current Knick logo as I do.

My grandpa, who died when I was eight years old, played semipro baseball and basketball in the 1930s for a team called the Astoria Arrows. He was one of my favorite people of all time (as a grandfather should be) and, as such, I would be clad head-to-toe right now in Astoria Arrows merchandise if I could find it anywhere. People would ask me what that archery-themed logo was on my hat and then I’d tell them about Al “Big Maxy” Drews, how I have a scrapbook at home of clips mentioning him in Queens newspapers, including one with the headline “Drews Sinks One” that mentions his timely “slam shot” as the highlight of game in which the winning team scored something like 20 points. The person who asked me about that logo might not care about the lengthy answer that I would give them, but the joy of talking about my grandpa one more time would make any money that I spent on Arrows paraphernalia a very worthy investment. Unless, of course, they happened to have changed the logo . . .

If the Astoria Arrows logo was changed in 1963, and again in 1992, then it would be a tad difficult to muster much emotion when I placed their cap upon my head:

“Hey, Ken, what’s that mysterious logo on your hat?” a passerby would ask.
“Well, friend, it’s actually a semipro team that my grandfather played for in the 1930s,” I would answer.
“Cool,” the passerby would say.
“Only they wore different colors,” I would add.
“Oh.”
“And the arrow faced the other direction.”
“Right.”
“And the font for the team name was different.”
“That’s great, Ken. I’m going to go now.”

Sounds like a fun exchange, huh?

It is just laundry, folks. It is a tired and trite axiom at this point, but all we root for is the laundry on the players’ backs. A sport is ephemeral and the men wearing the laundry change. We root for that laundry because it connects our past to our future. I want Charles Oakley to have a connection to Dave Debusschere. I want the team that my grandpa watched on WWOR back in the day (for free!) to have a connection to the career of Danilo Galinari and Wilson Chandler. I want any connection to my grandpa that I can get. The players change, but leave the laundry the same.

So go ahead and rank the Knicks logo low, Jared. It sucks for one of the oldest teams in the sport, playing in its most famous arena in its biggest market, to have a middling ranking…but it’s a freaking triangle. Give the Knick logo the C-minus that it deserves. How could you rank it higher? It was created in 1992 and was five years out of date even back then. It’s not the logo of the 1970 team (one of the sport’s most memorable title winners) or the logo Willis Reed had on his warm-ups when he limped out of the tunnel in 1970. The triangle isn’t the logo of the team that suited up Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton as the NBA’s first black player in 1950.

Who needs a logo with a connection to the “Knickerbocker” era of Sweetwater, Dick McGuire and Harry Galatin? Who needs a connection to Willis Reed, Clyde Frazier, Dave Debusschere, Dick Barnett, Bill Bradley, Black Jesus and the other men who wore the “parachute”? Who needs a logo with a glorious past when you have one that was on the towel Charles Smith used to hide his face in shame after getting four point-blank shots blocked by smaller players in the 1993 conference finals?

Oh well . . .

Kenneth Paul Drews co-hosts the FreeDarko Presents: The Disciples of Clyde Podcast along with the ever-loquacious, never-salacious Dan Filowitz. Ken also writes about the NBA on the DOC website and can often be found having recurring nightmares about Isiah Thomas.

knicks logo

Fun Fact: If you type “comical failure” into Google, it asks Did you mean: Charles Smith

2 thoughts on “The NBA Logo Ranking Project:
#13 – New York Knicks”

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