The Spurs franchise was founded as a charter member of the American Basketball Association in 1967 as the Dallas Chaparrals, briefly rebranding as the Texas Chaparrals before moving to San Antonio, becoming the San Antonio Spurs. The franchise became one of four teams to enter the NBA through the 1976 ABA-NBA merger. The Spurs are the fourth most successful franchise in NBA history, having won five championships between 1999 and 2014.
The Spurs have largely maintained a consistent look throughout their time in San Antonio, with only minor adjustments to their visual identity. The notable exception was when a colorful background was added to the logo from 1989 to 2002.
The primary logo, introduced in 2002, is an updated version of the original Spurs logo used since 1973. The older, three-dimensional letters were flattened and arced, and the classic spur-shaped U was modernized and repositioned. The wordmark appears on a silver banner, with a large black outline that houses the city name. The design is simple and cleverly incorporates the object which the word represents into the wordmark. While the semi-three-dimensional nature of the spur element conflicts with the otherwise flat nature of the design, the overall flatter look is an improvement over the previous design which used 3D letters because it is cleaner and simpler. The partial primary logo is the spur element from the primary logo used on its own.
The Spurs currently have no secondary or alternate logos.
‘San Antonio’ is rendered in the Eurostile typeface while the ‘Spurs’ wordmark (minus the U) is a variation on Steelworks.
The basic design for the current home and road uniforms has been in place since 1989. The original crew collar was replaced with the current V-neckline in 2010. The white home uniform has the ‘Spurs’ wordmark and the player number centered below it in black with a silver outline and black side panels. The black road uniform has the ‘Spurs’ wordmark and player number in white with silver sides panels. The design is simple, fairly modern and well-balanced in terms of color and layout and resist the temptation to indulge in tacky Western or cowboy-related imagery.
The silver alternate uniform, which was introduced in 2012, uses the same basic uniform template but with a few changes: the spur logo appears on the front left side of the jersey with the player number on the top right, the black side panels have a white stripe running down the center, and an ‘SA’ monogram appears on the bottom front of the left leg of the shorts. The offset logo and number balance well but the design more closely resembles a practice uniform than a regular-season on-court uniform.
The ‘Spurs’ nickname references to Texas’ rich history of cattle ranching and the spurs worn by cowboys to drive horses as they managed their herds. While the black-and-silver color scheme has no particular significance for the city of San Antonio, the silver matches the color of actual spurs.
The Spurs are one of only five teams to wear a black primary road uniform and the first of any NBA team to sport the look. They are also one of only four teams without a basketball in their logo set.
The jerseys feature a fairly generic varsity block sports typeface for the numbering which is also used by the Celtics.
The Spurs are one of only two teams to use a logo on one of their uniforms in place of the team or place name, and the first of the two to do so.
The team nickname is unique among the four major American sports leagues, although the abbreviated ‘Spurs’ nickname is also used by fans of the English Premiere League Tottenham Hotspur F.C.
The Spurs’ use of colors and logos is generally consistent. The wordmark from the logo is used on the jerseys, however the numbering does not match lettering. By comparison, the previous ‘fiesta’ logo, which displayed the wordmark against a teal, salmon and tangerine brushstroke background, was much less consistent because none of those colors were used on the uniforms.
Points to Improve
- Strengthen the wordmark by centering and simplifying the spur-shaped U to better match the layout of the other letters.
- Choose a typeface for the numbering that better matches the shape of the letters in the ‘Spurs’ wordmark.
- Use the wordmark and number layout from the home and away jerseys on the alternate uniform. Making this uniform the primary home option would be a nice nod to the Spurs’ original home uniform worn through their first season in the NBA.
- Adopt a more modern uniform template.
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.