In the wake of Kobe Bryant’s shocking death last year, the NBA moved quickly to pay homage one of its greatest players by renaming the All-Star Game MVP trophy in his honor. Kyrie Irving wants the league to go further – by featuring Bryant on a new version of the NBA logo.
“Gotta Happen, idc [I don’t care] what anyone says,” Irving wrote Wednesday on his Instagram account. “BLACK KINGS BUILT THE LEAGUE.”
The NBA logo has featured a silhouette of Hall of Famer Jerry West since 1969, although the league has reportedly never acknowledged that publicly. An NBA spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In his Instagram post, Irving shared an image of Bryant dribbling with a ball laid over the logo in a way that resembled the silhouette’s pose. The image was identical to one used on a Change.org petition last year that asked the league to “immortalize [Bryant] forever as the new NBA Logo.”
That petition soon gathered over one million virtual signatures, and as of Wednesday evening that number was over 3.2 million.
Adding a prominent voice at the time to the push for Bryant on the logo was Charlotte Hornets center Bismack Biyombo, who is also a vice president of the National Basketball Players Association. Biyombo told the Athletic in January 2020 that changing the logo would represent an “an appreciation of what the guy has done for the game of basketball.”
Praising Bryant’s desire to “teach” other players at various levels of the sport how to strengthen their skills and determination, Biyombo declared, “We all get to work extra hard and come back to the gym because somebody has implemented that into our mind-set, which is Kobe.”
Biyombo’s Hornets teammate Miles Bridges agreed, saying, “I definitely think he should be the logo for sure. You could see the shock around the league when it happened. How many people it affected, players. It affected everybody in the NBA. So I feel like no player has had an impact – besides MJ – on anybody like Kobe.”
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban also said last year that he would “support” putting Bryant on the logo. “I just think it’s so much more than basketball – he brought so many people together,” Cuban told TMZ Sports.
West said in 2017 of the NBA possibly changing its logo to one that did not feature him, “I wish they would.”
An NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers and a 14-time all-star, West went on to become one of the league’s most successful team executives. He found his status as “The Logo,” which he said was confirmed to him by former NBA commissioner J. Walter Kennedy, “flattering” but also a source of embarrassment because “I don’t like to do anything to call attention to myself.”
Irving is also a vice president with the NBPA and the Brooklyn Nets star is also an influential voice among players. He may have some trouble gaining traction with the league, though, given the complexities of changing a logo that has been a major part of the NBA’s brand for over 50 years. Among the financial ramifications of such a move could be substantial payments to Bryant’s estate.
Irving was personally close with Bryant, and on the day of Bryant’s death he couldn’t bring himself to play in a game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. When he returned to the court a few days later, Irving shed tears during a pregame tribute to Bryant. After the game, he told reporters, “In some ancient text they say that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear, and I had that type of mentorship relationship with him, where I was able to ask him almost anything no matter how nervous I was or fearful I was.”
Among those applauding Irving for his post Wednesday was Bryant’s widow, Vanessa. “Love this,” she said on social media.
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