The Dallas Mavericks—often referred to as the Mavs—were established as an expansion team in 1980. Routinely one of the worst teams in the NBA, the franchise’s fortunes turned around when billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban bought the team in 2000 and set out to make the Mavs a contender. The team has since reached the NBA Finals twice, winning their first and only championship behind the play of Dirk Nowitzki in 2011.
The Mavericks’ original visual identity consisted of a blue-and-green color scheme with a logo featuring a blue M and a white cowboy hat over a green basketball. The uniforms alternated between blue and green with a simple wordmark and generic typeface used for the player number.
The Mark Cuban era brought about a wholesale change to the visual identity, which shed the color green in favor of silver and introduced a radically different look for both the logo and uniforms. The official colors are navy blue, light royal blue, white and silver.
The current logo set was introduced in 2001 as part of the team’s updated visual identity.
The primary logo consists of three elements: a white horse with a gray mane and a stylized letter M on its forehead on a blue basketball, with ‘Dallas’ written in a white crescent above; a blue banner with the ‘Mavericks’ wordmark in black with a white outline; and a gray shield with a lone star at the bottom. The overall design is modern and well-balanced in terms of color but the compressed nature of the wordmark somewhat decreases its legibility and the combination of three design elements creates an unnecessarily complicated look. Additionally, it is unclear whether the black shapes in the white section are intended to depict a rearward-facing horse, eyes and a mouth, or mere shading. The partial primary logo is the horse head basketball design used on its own.
The alternate logos both use the M from the horse’s forehead in the primary logo. One features a gray M with an exaggerated shadow seemingly protecting a blue basketball while the other has the M in blue straddling a gray basketball with a black shield behind it. Both designs are clean, simple and modern and the latter’s use of negative space and broken outlines is nicely arranged, however while the blue M is illustrated in three dimensions, the black shield is flat, creating a somewhat paradoxical look. The M design is a clever feature on the primary logo, but looks cartoonish when used it on its own and is too reminiscent of a comic book superhero’s logo, especially when used in conjunction with the shield.
The Maverick’s custom typeface is clean, simple and modern.
The current uniform template was introduced in 2001. The current road uniform, introduced in 2010 is a recolored version of the 2001 design, which was navy blue with royal blue accents.
The white home uniform has the ‘Dallas’ wordmark in navy blue with the player number below it to the player’s left in royal blue. The accent sections around the armholes and rear portion of the shorts are navy while the side panels are highlighted with royal blue piping. The royal blue home uniform has the ‘Dallas’ wordmark in navy blue with the player number in silver. The accent sections are navy and the piping is silver. The judicious use of accenting is well-balanced and creates a truly modern uniform template.
The navy blue skyline alternate uniform was designed by Mavs fan Geoff Case for Mark Cuban’s new-uniform-design contest in 2013 and was introduced at a fan event in September 2014 but makes its on-court debut with the 2015-16 season. Heavily influenced by the Denver Nuggets’ rainbow skyline uniforms worn from 1982 to 1993 (and the basis of that team’s current alternate uniform), the jersey features the Dallas skyline in silver over a royal blue horizontal stripe with the ‘Dallas’ wordmark in navy and the player number in gray centered below it. A silver star appears on the waistband of the shorts. The uniform has royal blue and silver striping on either side, interrupted by the ‘Mavericks’ wordmark in white on the right and the horse head partial primary logo on the left. The jersey is well-balanced in terms of color and design however the stripe-breaking white wordmark on the shorts clutters up the otherwise clean nature of the design.
The ‘Mavericks’ nickname was chosen in a name-the-team contest and was an homage to the popular 1957-1962 Western series Maverick. The ‘Maverick’ name itself has deep significant historical roots in in Texas. The noun maverick comes from Texas politician and cattle rancher Samuel Maverick, who famously did not brand his cattle. Unbranded cattle which were not part of the herd came to be known as mavericks, and the word eventually came to stand for independent-mindedness. Ironically, the horse illustration in the primary logo is literally branded with the team’s alternate M logo.
The navy, royal blue and silver color palette hold no particular significance for the city of Dallas nor does it relate to the team nickname in any fashion.
The ‘Mavericks’ name is also used by the student athletics program of the University of Texas at Arlington and predates the NBA franchise by nine years.
While the Mavericks are one of 13 teams to wear a blue uniform as their primary road option, they are one of only two teams (along with the Magic) with a blue-and-silver color scheme. The Mavs are also one of two teams (along with the Grizzlies) to wear a two-tone blue uniform but the Mavs get credit for originating the look in 2001.
The wishbone-collar template introduced by Nike in 1999 has been adopted by five teams and is still worn by all of them except the Raptors. While the other teams created a similar look with secondary-color side panels and accent-colored striping or piping, the Mavericks designed a far more unique style, highlighting the same-color side panels as a distinct section with the use subtle silver piping, and contrasting the sections around the arms and on the top section of the back of the shorts with the secondary color to create a truly distinct look.
While a team would normally be penalized for borrowing another team’s uniform design, the Mavs get a pass this time since the current alternate uniform was designed by a fan.
While the ‘M’ design from the horse’s head is used on all of the logos, it does not match the M used in the ‘Mavericks’ wordmark.
Points to Improve
- Update the primary logo with a less stylized version of the wordmark that is more consistent with the wordmarks used on the jerseys.
- Retire the unnecessary alternate logos.
NBA Branding Assessment Ranking
Special thanks to Chris Creamer (sportslogos.net) for the logo and uniform images.
All writings contained herein are copyright ©2015 Brian F. Sanford. All intellectual property including but not limited to names, logos and uniforms are properties of the National Basketball Association, its member teams, ownership groups and/or organizations. All images are used for noncommercial educational purposes. No copyright infringement is intended.