Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving sparked a conversation about changing the NBA logo to Kobe Bryant on Instagram earlier this year. The Detroit Free Press published an article on March 1 saying Irving told his 14 million followers that it’s “Gotta happen, idc [I don’t care] what anyone says. BLACK KINGS BUILT THE LEAGUE.”
The conversation spread like wildfire to sports fans, as you could imagine. Therefore, I decided to ask a couple of SQ basketball program head coaches their thoughts on this issue.
Jerry “JB” Brown, 54, and Anthony “Tone” Evans, 57, are a couple of San Quentin’s best B-ball orchestrators. Each led their respective SQ team to championship titles — both coaches say they love the game of basketball. Each has been involved in the sport for decades.
Jerry “JB” Brown: I’ve been coaching basketball for 40 years.
Timothy Hicks: That is a very long time. I can imagine that you must really miss the courts since this COVID stuff has hit.
JB: Yeah, pretty much.
TH: What do you think about the suggestion Kyrie Irving made about changing the long-standing NBA logo of Jerry West to Kobe Bryant?
JB: I agree with it. Because I think he [Kobe] changed the game of basketball. He went straight from high school to the NBA.
Anthony “Tone” Evans: Although he [Kobe] deserves a place of honor in the NBA for all that he did for the game, I just don’t think it should be that one.
AE: There may be some pushback on that issue. Adam Silver may not allow that. And besides, Kobe’s family might be faced with some bad press. People might bring up the past things Kobe was charged with and it may not be good. Plus, I’m about creating diversity and being inclusive, even though the league is made up of majority Black players, Jerry West was a good pick, too, and he did a lot for the league. In this environment, it might be some White people who might not agree with the change. It’s also all kinds of other races of people who might not agree.
The Press reported a 2020 study by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports that said 74.2% of the league’s players identify as Black or African American, which is clearly noticeable without the stats.
TH: Do you think it’s time for a Black man to represent the NBA in general?
JB: Jerry West was good, but this is a way to pay tribute to one of the greats. No disrespect to Magic Johnson or Julius Ervin or any of the other greats.
TH: Right, even Jerry West agrees in some way that it’s time for a change. He does not even acknowledge himself as the logo, the Press said. He even suggested that Michael Jordan should be the logo. The article mentioned Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Those would be some great choices, too. However, the article called Kyrie Irving subjectively biased for picking Kobe because he grew up in the Kobe era, watching Kobe and idolizing him in his 28 years. So why do you think Kobe would be the best choice? We got LeBron James, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant. The list goes on.
JB: Everything Kobe did for the NBA was phenomenal. He’s the player that represents the modern days of the NBA. Yeah, I can agree that he is a good pick, but I’m kind of leaning towards Tone’s views. I like Kobe and I am a fan of his. He’s the only player who I compared to the great Michael Jordan in his time, but it’s so many more superstar players to choose from that impacted the game and the league that are more deserving of such an iconic place in the NBA.
AE: Yes, Magic, Kareem, Jordan, Gasol, Blake Griffin. The list is long. And like I said, Kobe was a wonderful player, one of my favorites, but he may spark some controversy if that happens.