The Golden State Warriors are a storied basketball franchise whose famous players include Joe Fulks, Chris Mullin and Wilt Chamberlain. Along with its legendary history, the team is also known for its legendary “the City” logo, which is one of the best-known sports logos in history.
The Golden States Warriors began in 1946 as the Philadelphia Warriors. At that time, their logo featured the face of a Native American man drawn in blue ink and wearing a yellow headdress. Today, that design would be unacceptably offensive.
The logo has undergone several changes, but the Warriors have continued using a blue and yellow color scheme ever since.
Champions from the Start
The Philadelphia Warriors won the 1947 and 1956 National Basketball Association (NBA) championships. At the time, the team wore a red and white uniform with the name Warriors across the front. Over the years, the team changed the team’s jersey colors to match the logo’s colors.
In 1959, the Warriors drafted Wilt Chamberlain. From the start, Chamberlain broke NBA records and became one of the best-known basketball players of all time. During his stint as a warrior, “Wilt the Stilt” won the NBA Rookie of the Year, NBA All-Star Game MVP and league MVP. In 1962, he scored 100 points against the New York Knicks.
Move to California
In 1962, business owner Franklin Mieuli bought the team. He moved it to San Francisco and renamed it the San Francisco Warriors. The Warriors played most of their home games at the Cow Palace in Daly City until1 1964. From 1964 to 1966, they played at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium.
The team’s logo changed during this time. It no longer depicted a Native American man, but it still used Native American imagery. It showed a feathered headdress in blue and white resting on a yellow background . A blue line and the name San Francisco Warriors circle the image.
Becoming the Golden State Warriors
By 1969, the Warriors were playing most of their home games in Oakland and San Diego. At that time, the team was using a logo that incorporated the Golden Gate Bridge. When they officially moved to Oakland, however, they changed their name to the Golden State Warriors. This left them able to claim they were bridging both cities.
In 1969, the Warriors launched their most famous logo. It was a simple, clean design that showed simply a round yellow globe and a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge. There was no team name. Instead, the words “The City” arched across the top of the circle. A picture of a cable car was on the back of the jersey.
Thee iconic images of San Francisco made a city name unnecessary. The Warriors were the first professional sports team to create a logo that didn’t include the team’s city or state.
A Cult Favorite
The simple, striking blue and yellow design has become a beloved classic, but it was not well-received when it first launched. The team was the subject of ridicule from the moment the logo appeared.
It seems hard to believe, but the ridicule was so bad the team promptly changed the logo again. The new design depicted a shape drawn to look like the state of California. More than 50 years later, Warriors jerseys with the City logo are the team’s top sellers.
A Total Change
After dropping the famous City logo, the Warriors stuck to the California image and the blue and yellow color scheme for decades. There were only minor variations.
In 1998, the team debuted a new logo. This was a completely new logo that used the name WARRIORS in orange on a blue and red background. The W is turned into a lightning bolt. With minor variations, the team used this logo until 2010.
The City Returns
The City logo has made two triumphant comebacks.
In 2006, the Warriors wore jerseys with the City logo during NBA Hardwood Classic Week. They wore them in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks. The yellow jerseys featured “The City” and a span of bridge on the front. They also had a cable car design on the back.
In 2010, fans saw a renewal of the City logo that had continued to be a cult favorite for decades. The Warriors unveiled a new logo showing a span of the Bay Bridge in yellow and blue against a blue background. It was a clear update of the classic City logo.
The 2010 redesign was a total transformation that was part of an overall branding change the team launched. The launch included a new, more modern font on the wordmark and a yellow color that was more clearly golden in tone.
The bridge in the original design had been the Golden Gate Bridge, which is one of the icons of San Francisco. When the team moved to Oakland, however, the design reflected a new geographic reality. Instead of the Golden Gate Bridge, the new City logo featured a span of the Bay Bridge. This made the team’s allegiance to its new city clear.
Making It Official
The team registered a trademark for the design in 2011.
The design was the product of an 18-month collaboration with the team, the NBA and the shoemaker Adidas, which is the official outfitter of the NBA.
According to an official statement by the NBA, “The Warriors’ new primary logo salutes the team’s Bay Area past and links to the exciting prospects of the organization’s future. A silhouette of the yet-to-be-completed eastern span of the Bay Bridge is the focal point of the design and a direct spin-off of the City logo, one of the most popular emblems in the history of professional sports.”
Bridging the Past and Future
The Golden Warriors celebrated their fans, their future and their history with this new version of a classic logo. It is still in use, and now it’s winning over a whole new generation of fans.