After ranking the primary logos of all 123 teams in the four major sports leagues in North America (1-40, 41-80, 81-123), it only made sense to put them into a bracket and have a tournament. So, that’s just what we did.
To fill out the field and get to 128 teams, five wild cards were slotted into the field: the defunct Hartford Whalers, Montreal Expos, Quebec Nordiques, Seattle Pilots, and Seattle SuperSonics. As the tournament has played out on Twitter, nostalgia has proven powerful: not only have three of the five wild cards knocked out the highly-seeded teams they were drawn against, those three non-Seattle Wild Card entries all advanced to the second round.
What the first two rounds have really shown is that the NBA’s logo game is as weak as can be. From a 30-team league, only the Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, and Golden State Warriors advanced to our Round of 32. This makes a good deal of sense: NBA logos are a smaller part of teams’ identity than those of other leagues. Most NHL teams wear their logos on their jerseys, most NFL teams on their helmets, and most MLB teams on one, the other, or both.
As we move on to the Round of 32, a look at the matchups – voting begins Thursday morning on Twitter.
Dodgers: d. (WC) Seattle SuperSonics, 56-44; d. (65) Minnesota Wild, 66-34
Athletics: d. (32) Minnesota Timberwolves, 61-39; d. (33) New Jersey Devils, 54-46
This rematch of the 1988 World Series isn’t quite a logo rematch of the 1988 World Series. The red parts of the Dodgers’ logo were thicker then, while the A’s of the 1980s had green letters in a white circle, around a golden version of their cap logo. How much better off would we all be if we got to enjoy the A’s logo as a green-and-gold version of the Kansas City elephant?
Flyers: d. (112) Vegas Golden Knights, 59-41; d. (48) Los Angeles Lakers, 62-38
Red Wings: d. (113) Vancouver Canucks, 81-19; d. (49) Edmonton Oilers, 77-23
Another championship rematch, this time the 1997 Stanley Cup Final. The Red Wings have had the same basic logo for their entire history, with a slight resizing of the elements after World War II. The Flyers’ logo now is indistinguishable from what they had in 1997, though the orange dot was a slight bit lighter then. Time to settle once and for all what the best way is to take flight at the rink.
Mets: d. (120) Kansas City NFL, 73-27; d. (56) Dallas Stars, 81-19
Nuggets: d. (24) Dallas Mavericks, 69-31; d. (88) Tampa Bay Lightning, 60-40
The Mets logo has only had a couple of small tweaks over the years, while the Nuggets have gone from having one of the greatest character logos in history, to an absolute classic with the rainbow Tetris skyline, to a third-rate casino logo, to a crest that came straight off the left breast of an overpriced polo shirt at a country club’s pro shop. It’s not the worst, but it’s just so evocative of a corporate groupthink process, it’s hard to get past that.
Maple Leafs: d. (104) Texas Rangers, 82-18; d. (40) Carolina Panthers, 74-26
Sharks: d. (121) Atlanta MLB, 57-43; d. (57) Philadelphia Eagles, 73-27
How do you like your Patrick Marleau? Grizzled? Slightly differently grizzled? San Jose beat Toronto, 5-2, on March 3, the last game before Santa Clara County recommended not playing any more hockey games there — a recommendation that the Sharks ignored, playing three more home games before the NHL shut down. Is that reckless decision why two Ottawa Senators players came down with coronavirus, even though there was absolutely no need to play a game between two trash teams? It probably didn’t help! Anyway, this is a logo tournament.
Penguins: d. (WC) Seattle Pilots, 76-24; d. (60) Philadelphia Phillies, 66-34
Brewers: d. (28) Utah Jazz, 87-13; d. (92) Denver Broncos, 75-25
The Penguins already beat the team that became the Brewers, and now get their shot at the current incarnation, whose ball-in-glove logo is extremely popular, even though they got a low seed here for their use of the extremely tired “here’s a big circle with our team name in it” template.
Islanders: d. (108) Atlanta Hawks, 67-33; d. (44) Los Angeles Angels, 60-40
Saints: d. (117) Oklahoma City Thunder, 85-15; d. (53) San Francisco Giants, 70-30
A clash of not only sports, but styles, as the Islanders have an incredibly busy logo that somehow manages to all come together as a cohesive unit, while the Saints have the simple fleur-de-lis to represent something more than just a football team. Both teams have had fleeting moments of greatness with long stretches of doldrums in their history, and both have shown that head-to-toe black uniforms are not the way to go. As logos go, both are classics that have enduring legacies.
Red Sox: d. (84) Miami Marlins, 73-27; d. (20) Chicago Bears, 57-43
Sabres: d. (77) Tennessee Titans, 72-28, d. (13) Dallas Cowboys, 62-38
For the Sabres, this tournament has been all about avenging past indignities suffered by their municipal brethren, the Bills. That sort of ends now, but it also isn’t as if Buffalo hasn’t suffered against Massachusetts teams in both football and hockey. That the Sabres so convincingly beat the Cowboys and their star came as a bit of a surprise, while the Red Sox had a virtual bye in the first round before pulling away late from the Bears. Note that the Red Sox logo here is their official logo, not their cleverly cheeky quarantine logo.
Packers: d. (100) Philadelphia 76ers, 53-47; d. (36) Phoenix Suns, 68-32
Whalers: d. (4) Boston Celtics, 76-24; d. (68) Nashville Predators, 90-10
The Whalers might be the favorite in the entire tournament now, having destroyed both an iconic NBA logo and a new-school NHL logo in the first two rounds. What does the Packers logo offer that any of Hartford’s competition hasn’t so far? Green Bay’s logo is a classic, for sure, but the Packers, even in handily taking down the Suns, haven’t generated the kind of groundswell to make you believe they’ll derail the Whale here.
Expos: d. (3) Las Vegas Raiders, 72-28; d. (67) Cincinnati Bengals, 91-9
Bulls: d. (99) Indiana Pacers, 86-14; d. (35) Seattle Seahawks, 66-34
The reason to believe that the Whalers might be the favorite now, and not the Expos, is that as beloved as Nos Amours might be, and as powerful as nostalgia is, their draw is tougher, including this matchup against the logo worn by every frontrunner in school in the ’90s. And if nostalgia is a hell of a drug, then it certainly applies for a team that’s relied on it for the last two decades.
Blues: d. (83) Florida Panthers, 80-20; d. (19) Minnesota Vikings, 56-44
Tigers: d. (115) San Antonio Spurs, 75-25; d. (78) San Francisco 49ers, 72-28
The Blues had Detroit as a Norris Division rival for years. The Tigers have faced St. Louis in three World Series, most recently 2006. In this matchup, one logo is a classic for its league, but the other is emblematic of an entire city. The Tigers haven’t faced a real challenge yet in this tournament, and while the Blues might be the defending Stanley Cup champions, it’s fair to wonder if their logo is up to the task of battling the Olde English “D.”
Flames: d. (118) Los Angeles Clippers, 89-11; d. (54) New York Giants, 76-24
Rangers: d. (107) Minnesota Twins, 72-28; d. (86) Baltimore Ravens, 72-28
The Rangers probably won’t be posting a third straight 72-28 win here, in a battle of two teams that haven’t won the Stanley Cup for more than a quarter-century. Yeah, 1989 and 1994 are that long ago. Congratulations, you’re old! Both of these logos are great. One of them is a jersey mainstay. The other isn’t, although it did look good in that format.
Yankees: d. (102) Seattle Mariners, 60-40; d. (38) Cincinnati Reds, 71-29
Cardinals: d. (123) Washington NFL, 87-13; d. (59) Buffalo Bills, 57-43
The Cardinals have beaten the Yankees in three of their five World Series matchups, and now baseball’s two most decorated teams meet up here. Just by the way the draw has worked out, this is the third straight all-baseball matchup for the Bronx Bombers, but the first for the Redbirds. The simple act of being the Yankees seemed a hindrance in their opening matchup, while the Cardinals benefited from being the team with the not-racist logo in their first vote. What happens here in a vote on Twitter between two teams Twitter generally can’t stand?
Canadiens: d. (122) Chicago NHL, 62-38; d. (71) Pittsburgh Pirates, 79-21
Warriors: d. (103) Houston Astros, 80-20; d. (90) Los Angeles Chargers, 67-33
The road to the finals for the Habs is a fascinating one in which they could wind up facing the Bruins and Nordiques, and then an all-Montreal showdown with the Expos, and wouldn’t that be something? Well, something is what the Bay Area might have to say about that. There’s a reason that the bridge logo is one of just three NBA insignias to reach the Round of 32 — that is a reason beyond starting against a universally despised franchise before a matchup with Donald Trump’s hairpiece.
Orioles: d. (109) Toronto Raptors, 67-33; d. (42) Colorado Avalanche, 62-38
Bruins: d. (119) Cleveland Browns, 83-17; d. (55) Charlotte Hornets, 73-27
You kind of have to feel for the Orioles. All these years of struggling with Boston, and finally when it looks like the Red Sox are set for a down year, the world shuts down and they wind up in a matchup here with what looks like a juggernaut in the Bruins. It’s a tough matchup, for sure, but the cartoon bird is a lot of fun.
Steelers: d. (114) Tampa Bay Rays, 79-21; d. (79) Chicago White Sox, 59-41
Blue Jays: d. (111) Brooklyn Nets, 92-8; d. (82) Miami Dolphins, 79-21
The Steelers struggling with the White Sox until pulling away late was a surprise, showing that maybe support for this classic logo isn’t as strong as expected. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, have been dominant, owning the most lopsided win of the first two rounds, as well as a thorough dismantling of the Dolphins in their last matchup. How much of a factor is it that the Blue Jays logo almost looks like it could be one of the color flares in the Steelers’ logo?
Jets: d. (98) Washington Nationals, 76-24; d. (95) Chicago Cubs, 54-46
Nordiques: d. (2) Miami Heat, 74-26; d. (63) Carolina Hurricanes, 81-19
It’s a classic WHA battle! Except it’s not, because these Jets aren’t those Jets, and these Jets don’t have that Jets logo. This Jets logo is pretty impressive, but does it really have a chance here? The domination by the Nordiques so far has been something to behold.