We all know the NFL is king, but NBA players get paid more and are more famous and more recognizable.
The reason isn’t that complicated: The NFL markets its sport and teams foremost, whereas the NBA is driven by stars. That’s why Michael Jordan and LeBron James leave their NFL equivalents in the dust in terms of career earnings and international fame. It’s also why mid-level stars in the NBA make millions more than even the best defensive players in the NFL.
That’s largely by design. ESPN analyst Jalen Rose, who made more than $100 million in his 13-year NBA career on team salaries alone, has a very interesting way of looking at the divide that speaks to the heart of the two leagues. While talking to For The Win about ESPN’s evolving NBA coverage, Rose dropped this pearl of wisdom that we’d never heard before:
“The logo of the NBA is, what? A player. The NBA promotes, who? The players. The NFL promotes the shield. People cheer for helmets rather than the individuals.”
It’s simple yet accurate.
The logo of the NBA was based on Jerry West, a superstar during the 1960s and ’70s, though West now claims he doesn’t want to be “The Logo” any longer. It’s iconic — without a doubt the best league logo in American sports — and speaks to the priorities of the league.
The NFL logo is pretty good, too. It’s a shield, yes, but it’s a very patriotic shield that places the football prominently and has pretty sleek execution. And it works in the way Rose depicts; the NFL wants the attention on the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos instead of Ezekiel Elliott and Von Miller. That creates more loyal fans.
As far as other logos? Major League Baseball’s logo is a generic hitter — intentionally not based on any one player, according to its illustrator. The NHL logo is a simpler shield than the NFL’s. Major League Soccer recently switched to a shield from its amateurish foot-kicking-ball.