Kyrie Irving said Thursday that the NBA’s logo should be a silhouette of Kobe Bryant because the late Laker legend was “the standard for our generation.”
Speaking after the Brooklyn Nets’ 129-92 win against the Orlando Magic, Irving said Bryant and his family deserve the honor. “As a native Black man, a native Black king, it’s part of my responsibility to continue to push our culture forward,” Irving said. “I know that it probably was met with some people who love the idea and some people that don’t like it. My thing is paying homage to the example that has been set by that man.”
Irving’s comments follow his Instagram post on Wednesday which featured a photo of Bryant in place of the NBA player silhouette with the caption “Gotta Happen, idc what anyone says. BLACK KINGS BUILT THE LEAGUE.”
Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, shared the post via her Instagram story with the caption “love this. @KyrieIrving.” Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant died along with seven other people in a helicopter accident in January 2020.
Irving’s Instagram post on Feb. 24 was exactly a year after a memorial was held for Bryant in Los Angeles.
“He was the standard for our generation, and he will continue on,” Irving said Thursday. “I want that to be something in history that is changed forever, that our generation was a part of that change.”
Basketball Hall of Famer Jerry West is the current NBA silhouette, which has been in place since 1969. West drafted Bryant as general manager of the Lakers in 1996. Irving said he meant no disrespect to the great players in the history of the NBA by his suggestion to make Bryant the logo.
“Kobe should be the logo because we have so many examples of guys that did things on and off the floor that were leaps and bounds for us to be where we are now,” Irving said. “He’s the guy for me, a mentor. He’s more than just an inspiration. I took a lot of knowledge and wisdom from that guy. He’s always around me. Gigi is always around me, and I know in the women’s game we want to continue to push things forward, but in our game, too, we want to set a standard and precedent that ‘this is excellence.’
“Kobe Bryant. Logo. Yes. Needs to happen. I don’t care what anyone says. Black kings built the league. It’s exactly what I meant. It’s exactly where I stand.”
This story will be updated. More to come.
The history of the logo
David Aldridge, The Athletic D.C. editor-in-chief: The league has been reluctant to acknowledge that the official logo is that of West, but it never denied it, either. It was designed in 1969, as West was nearing the end of his Hall of Fame playing career, and while there have occasionally been calls to revisit it, there’s never been serious consideration over the decades to change it. It is as iconic an image for the NBA as the NFL’s “shield” logo is for football.
What would it mean to have Kobe as the logo?
Aldridge: Certainly, one could make an argument to have Bryant replace West. Bryant is a hero to many of today’s current players, their version of Michael Jordan (whose own iconic “Jump Man” was thought of in the ’90s by some as a worthy successor to the West logo). Bryant’s style and winning pedigree certainly put him on the shortlist — and it would likely not be problematic to West to be replaced by another Lakers icon.
How realistic is this?
Aldridge: Not likely, at least without the league going to considerable thought and research into how such a change would be viewed by casual fans. The issue of Bryant’s sexual assault charge in 2003, while ultimately dropped, would be a major challenge to the NBA to make such a momentous change.