Inspector Logo Presents: A Look at Equipment in Logos

Written By:  •  Friday, February 15, 2013

Here at the Worldwide Sports Logos Headquarters, we have many leather-bound books full of league logos and our conference room smells of rich mahogany. Sometimes, in between heated discussions over the merits of new logos, or how far into the depth of sport we are willing to go, tracking new alt uniforms, we page through the books and notice interesting things about the leagues’ logos.

For starters, do you know the percentages of sports per league who include their sports’ equipment in their primary logo? You could page through for hours on our Logos Database pages. Or, you could stay right here and I, Inspector Logo, will tell you all about it.

The NBA is far and away the biggest “user” in this category.

A whopping 20 teams out of the 30 use a ball in their logo in some way. Its almost become required to include a ball, as it seems almost every recent logo includes one.

nba logos with balls

All of these teams brought their own ball to the gym.

Quite a few feature the ball as a primary visualization, such as the Lakers.

The most equipment-heavy logo in all of the major leagues is for the Miami heat. It pictures a netless rim, with a ball on fire going through it. All items save the flames are game equipment! And we totally get why they didn’t picture the net. Why advertise for another franchise in your logo?

 I suppose when you are an abstract concept like “heat” the tools to play your game would come into play almost by necessity. This does not explain, however, why so many teams feel it is necessary to show us the ball from their game. Almost obsessive like the Canadian franchise’s need to display a maple leaf.

Balls are often features, as the MLS shows us. We would have liked to also show you the stats from the soccer league easily considered the top level in the world, but they don’t like to see their logos on this site, so we aren’t giving them the pleasure. Besides, the other leagues we are covering are North American, so we will go with the North American feature league.

The MLS teams aren’t shy to remind us they kick a 32-paneled ball. In fact 6 teams show us this immediately in their logos.

Funny that the MLS has never played with a traditional ball design.

The largest inclusion is in the San Jose Earthquakes. Almost clip-art quality, their giant black and white ball is very traditional in appearance.

Less traditional is the New England Revolution who includes an artistic representation of a ball as the field of stars in their flag-based logo.

Not included in the above chart, but arguably including a delicate reference to the pentagons of a soccer ball is the crown/maple leaf/gift-bow top to the Toronto FC logo

The shape is a bit esoteric, so we didn’t include it. Do you think we should have?

Perhaps the NHL franchises need some help figuring out how best to include their gear in logos. For a sport with quite a few distinctive items, skates, goals, sticks, gloves, helmets, pads, pucks… they don’t use as many as you might think.

NHL logos don’t get redesigned very often, and when they do, they don’t throw in a ton of gear from the sport. Sticks are the most common over the history of the sport, but the stick/puck combo is more prevalent today.

Give ’em the stick… DON’T give ’em the stick!

The Avalanche are the only team to explicitly use just a puck, in full 3D. Interestingly, most of the other sports include the item-which-scores in much larger frequency. In our historical research, this was the only puck-only logo we could find in the NHL (as you can see above, the Islanders who include a sick and puck and the Capitals who have a stick-L and a morse-code dash one assumes is a puck.) The Carolina Hurricanes get into the puck category because I lost the conference-room debate to Das Logo Führer, who insisted this was a puck, despite its disturbing lack of depth at that angle. I say if its a puck its an air hockey puck. We also toyed with including the Flyers as a puck-haver, but I stood firm on the “not every circle is a puck, dude” side of the argument. So, Hurricanes, in. Flyers, out.   I believe that covers it. Then again, by the time we got to hockey the conference room crystal was empty of its bourbon, so we probably didn’t look at every page. Any hockey fans want to correct this?

The San Jose Sharks have an interesting inclusion of gear in their logo… with their mascot destroying a stick by chomping it in half. Are there other examples of gear being ruined? Not that we could find in the major leagues at first glance, but we shall look into it more.

The Kings were a late addition, as apparently my old man eyesight is failing me more than my Differential Equations prof at Tech and my handy-dandy magnifying glass only helps if I have on the eye black. They have crossed sticks at the very top of their crown.

The Penguins include a lot of gear, which we weren’t sure how to note. So, we called them a stick/puck combo. They have a stick, skates, and gloves. I’m surprised there aren’t more skates in logos, the metal shape would lend to some cool designs.

The Canucks had a skate as their primary logo from 1978 to 1997 but have left it in the dust bin. Vancouver also used to sport one of the only all-gear logos, when they had their stick-on-a-rink logo from 1970 to 1978. I object to this being called a rink due to the stick/rink scale being way off, but the intent was there.


I’m also surprised there aren’t more bats in baseball logos. Shouldn’t they work just like sticks in hockey? But, only three teams use a bat, and even then, one of those uses a ball as well.

Several more teams use a ball in the MLB, though not quite at NBA levels. There are quite a few, however. Only 1 uses a field. If we had done this in 2011, we’d have been able to include the Padres use of home plate, which was amazingly unique.

Balls, balls, balls, bat, bats, bat, field!

MLB has a roundel problem. Its an addiction, really. The volume of round logos, many around a baseball, has gotten ridiculous. Its as if Nike is doing MLB logos, and their template is a roundel with a ball or logo in the center, and heaven forbid any franchise deviate.

Baseballs are everywhere. The Yankees are the only franchise to use both a ball and a bat, though they are way out of scale to one another. Seems like if you use both, they should be in relatable size. The Pirates current logo (Scheduled to be replaced for the 2014 season) uses two bats; Something you can’t do in a real baseball game. The Rays are the only ones to feature the diamond.

One of the smallest inclusions of a ball is the Mariners. Several folks I spoke with about logos didn’t even recall the ball in their logo. But, its there!

Hidden behind the NSEW of the compass rose, the baseball is hard to see, because its so small and obscured.

Small inclusions of gear are the NFL’s hallmark. Very few use gear at all, and of those that do, none of the logos have a huge, obvious inclusion of gear. They are all small.

Two each of the ball and of the helmet. No goal posts, no pylons, no fields, not cleats… not even any facemasks.

Two balls and two facemaskless helmets.

This may be the last year we can include the Dolphins, since he isn’t wearing a chin strap and the helmet is likely to fall off during the conversion to the new logo they are releasing next year. The Jets football even looks more like an Australian Rules Ball than an American. Why are football teams so reluctant to include their sport’s gear? Maybe because they largely use helmet logos as their primary, without all the crest and wordmark pieces.

One we left off this list is what we have listed as the Browns primary logo.

The Browns don’t really HAVE a logo, they are the team without. They have a helmet which is orange, and they use a rendering of that helmet some times, and others they use their wordmark. I, personally, don’t consider that their logo. If their logo was their “helmet without a logo on it,” then it would be a lame logo. I far prefer to think of their logo and being non-existent.

Logos, when they exist, are incredibly interesting. That’s why you visit here, and I am employed here. I can, and often do, look at them all day.

This was fun. What do you think about next week, we extend this study to historical logos as well? Hee haw!

Inspector Logo will be a series of articles that aren’t exactly news, aren’t really editorials, but give you more insight into the logos we see on the field, on the ice, and between the lines. If you have an idea for Inspector Logos, let us know in the comments.



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JR Francis

JR Francis is an actor, writer, director, graphic designer, UX guru, father, comedian, and craft beer snob. You can reach him at or on Twitter @JRFrancisSLN*One of several full-time uniform reporters this site has including its founder, Chris Creamer, who started his site in 1997

  • Waggie

    The NBA is ridic.

  • I love this article

  • I believe the ball in the logo actually *is* an NBA rule.

    • Brian Jud

      I think I’ve read that somewhere, too.

  • Kenny Jones

    The Florida Panthers used a “stick-breaking” alternate logo early on with their alternate jerseys and as a shoulder patch too. Doubt it’ll count but just pointing that out too.

  • Kenny Rider Jones

    Good article, I noted the Florida Panthers used a “stick-breaking” alternate logo early on with their alternate jerseys and a shoulder patch featuring a stick cross with a palm tree too. Doubt it’ll count but just pointing that out too.

  • Bryan Smalley

    MLS isn’t the second biggest equipment in logos offender! That dubious distinction would go to MLB!

    MLB: 13/30 teams = 43.3%

    MLS: 7/19 clubs = 36.8%

    • You are killin me, Smalley. But, in fact you are correct! Fixed. Thank you.

      • Bryan Smalley

        You’re welcome JR!

  • This is the end of the beginning and the beginning of a very long middle.

    • Bryan Smalley

      It’s also the end of the middle and the start of a new beginning.

      • OK, I’ll bite… What?

        • Chris Creamer

          I dunno, but I’d like whatever he’s on

  • camly75

    I think the Phillies logo could be on the border of being called a field.

    • This is a good call. It didn’t jump out at us, but now that you mention it, I can see it. Hmm..

  • Andy Moniker

    Who’s “Inspector Logo?”

  • TruckMonth

    The Padres weren’t the only team to use home plate, it looks as if the LA Kings hockey club does as well.


    The Flyers logo is clearer in featuring a puck than the Hurricanes. It also has a stick in it. And if the Phillies logo isn’t a field, then what is it?

    • Neither the Flyers nor Hurricanes have a stick. We gave the tie in puck-having to the one who made theirs black. Orange pucks don’t exist. If the Flyers themselves call it a puck, then we might be persuaded. But its just a circle to us.

      • Matt

        The flyers puck is the entire black circle. Thats why the “vapor trails” from the fling puck are the entire diameter of the black circle, not the orange one. And the Phillies logo is 100% a field, in the shape of veterans stadium.

        • Stumack

          Uh, no. The Flyers logo is a winged letter “P”. The loop of the P has the dot in the center to resemble an aircraft roundel. There is no puck nor “vapor trails”.

          • Anthony

            The Flyers logo IS a puck with wings in the shape of a “P” for Philadelphia. The outer black is the puck while the inner orange would resemble what the NHL had in the center of pucks back in the day. If you ask Ed Snider he would confirm this. I remember the story from when I was a child. Another flyers logo fact is Ed Snider said the Flyers crest would be in the center of every jersey they wear a long as he lives. Which is why I knew that rumored quakers winter classic jersey was not going to be worn.

      • LMWILL

        The line that connects the bottom part of the wing to the “circle” makes the stick with the bottom part of the wing. And I never said that there’s a stick in the Hurricanes logo

  • SouthstanderRSM

    What about the Red Sox “hanging sock” logo? From a very technical stand point sock are part of the equipment players wear.

    • This is indeed technically accurate. The thought in excluding it was it wasn’t really “equipment” rather its a strangely specific piece of clothing. Could go either way, really.

      • Pod

        Perhaps the New York Knickerbockers should feature a pair of pants as their logo?

        I keed!

  • Joe

    I also think that if you count secondary logos in the NBA all but three teams have basketballs in them. They would be the Houston Rockets, Portland Trialblazers, and San Antonio Spurs.

    • Joe

      oh and Chicago Bulls.

  • MxT

    Is the bottom half of the Canucks’ current logo not a hockey stick?
    And the black circles in the LA crown look an awful lot like pucks.

    • The bottom half of the C? I don’t see a hockey stick there. The Kings and pucks.. hmm. Maybe. Tough to call any circle a puck, but maybe.

  • Tim

    Another reason why I get drawn back to your site almost daily. Excellent analysis.

    How about extending the theme of this by exploring how many MLB teams use a ball on their uniform. Oh wait, it’s zero. Rule 1.11 (e) No part of the uniform shall include a pattern that imitates or suggests the shape of a baseball.

  • madpanda

    I’m not sure about other sports, but if you looked at minor league baseball and hockey, there’s enough animals biting through bats and sticks there to deforest the Amazon! I side with the puck in the Flyers’ P. And the Astros were probably the only major league team to feature its actual stadium in its primary logo…right?

  • John Burlie

    I thoroughly enjoyed this article. It really makes you think more and more. It would be cool to see an article about colours in sports logos and such.

    • That’s the Inspector Logo article for week after next! Stay tuned…

  • The Norwood team that competes in the South Australian Football League (Australian Rules Football) have a logo that features a football:

  • ..I really enjoyed this article, thanks for sharing and specially mentioned most of my major sports teams as in depth examples.
    (Colorado Avalanche, Miami Dolphins and Seattle Mariners).

  • Max

    never noticed the puck in the Avs logo before

  • I always thought the negative space in the “D” of the New Jersey Devils logo was a hockey stick.

    • Seamus

      There is no D in the Devils logo. It says NJ.

      • Oops, meant to say “N”.

  • cmk14

    I’d like to see inspector logo investigating the use of wordmarks in primary logos

  • thomas

    The LA Kings logo is so bad………smh…….can´t belive they won a cup with that abortion on their jerseys…………gretzky era logo was soo much cooler

  • ingmar66

    This is why I prefer college logos to pro logos: there is no reference to a single sport, since they have to cover all sports. Some may call that as being too generic for a pro team, but I think that a good logo leaves out the specific equipment (most of the times). Including equipment makes a logo very minor league or even amateurish. Therefore the pro league with the best team logos in general from my point of view is the NFL, where there is (thankfully) a big absence of footballs, gridiron patterns and goal posts (Arena League). The Jets and Bucs logos are, not by coincidence, two of my least favorite logos in the NFL. The NBA is really ridiculous: balls are everywhere, as if to remind us which game they are playing. Very boring.

  • JEvUt

    Spaulding should just make limited edition Basketballs in the colors as they are in the logos, with like the team on the packaging and stuff.

  • Arthur

    Nice article!

  • Matt C

    The Phillies logo use the shape of a baseball infield, shouldn’t that count?

  • Anthony

    Isn’t the flyers logo a face off circle?

  • Dave

    I always thought the Flyers center circle was a puck – and I think it should count either way.

  • Seamus

    People keep mentioning the Phillies and no one is acknowledging it. There’s no doubt their logo is a baseball field.

  • Seamus

    The Houston Rockets logo also has an R shooting through a basketball hoop

  • Justin

    Is the red circle in the middle of the winged wheel a puck? I know, pucks aren’t red but maybe it hit someone and is all bloody? lol

  • Nick

    Is the Boston Bruins logo not a “B” inside of a puck? If not, what the hell is it? As a lifelong Bruins fan I think they are in need of an update but not a crappy update like the Patriots got back in the early 90s

  • Jon Mayer

    Can’t you include the Packers logo since it was originally shaped to resemble a football? I believe that was the purpose of the design. The 49ers could fall into this category too, but I’m not quite positive about the history of their SF oval logo.

  • Jon Mayer

    2 more. What about giving credit to the Orioles for the bird wearing a baseball cap? And I know the Toronto Raptors have a basketball, but the Raptor is also wearing a basketball jersey, shorts, and shoes. New category for that logo?

  • Joe

    Awesome article, can’t believe how many NBA teams use Bballs in their logo! lol But as for the Flyers idk how true it is but I read that the logo is a winged “P” with a puck in the center. As a Flyers fan I think it’ pretty sick how they hid that in the logo but honestly the puck just looks like a colored circle. Had they added an effect to the puck, it would’ve been a bit more obvious imo.

  • coblentz69

    The Philles primary logo should be on this list because the liberty bell is on a background that is supposed to be a baseball field.