Everything started in 1961 with the first attempt to develop basketball in Chicago, where baseball and soccer were the favorite games. Unfortunately, the attempt was unsuccessful. The team that played the first season was called Chicago Packers (it was named in honor of the Chicago meat industry), and the second season was represented by Chicago Zephyrs (zephyrs is a kind of wind, also known as a harbinger of both sunny and rainy weather – it depends on the direction). In the summer of 1963, the team moved to the warm territories.
Being in Baltimore, the city with a rich military history, the club changed the name to Bullets. It was made in memory of the old team from the BAA league played in the former weapons storehouse. Also, Baltimore was once a kind of armory capital, where the ammunition for the US Army was manufactured. So the name was more than appropriate.
In 1969 the bullet from the team’s emblem was replaced by hands stretching to the ball. In 1973 it was time to go somewhere again. Thus, the team moved to the neighboring Washington, where it was first renamed to Capital Bullets, and only then to Washington Bullets.
Regardless of the team’s success, Washington’s residents, especially those far from basketball, couldn’t discuss the “problematic” name. According to the activists, it was one of the main reasons for the escalation of armed violence in the region. It should be noted that the District of Columbia has been holding a confident advantage in this indicator to this day.
In 1995, Aby, the owner of Bullets, announced changing the club’s name. He admitted discontent because his team was essentially propagandizing the murder weapon, especially in Washington, the city with a high crime rate. After the murder of his longtime friend, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Pollin finally decided to say goodbye to the gunshot tradition. The competition for a new name was announced, where the “Wizard” became the winner. At first, African Americans were not satisfied at all (and they are the absolute majority of Washington residents), because Wizard is one of the highest titles in the Ku Klux Klan. Pollin, a far from this organization, just chose the appropriate name that would be nice to children.
Meaning and History
The basketball team’s incredibly rich history is reflected in its logos, and since 1962 it has had fourteen of them. The franchise debuted when it was called the Chicago Packers. Then she went through a series of transformations, as she took turns in Chicago Zephyrs, Baltimore Bullets, Capital Bullets, Washington Bullets, Washington Wizards. Together with it, the format of individual identification signs changed.
The team, now known as the Washington Wizards began playing as the Chicago Packers, whose name was a nod to the city’s meatpacking industry. The opening version consists of a basketball with characteristic lines forming an inner oval and a central strip that divides the circle into two symmetrical halves. In the middle, there is a contour depicting a bull’s head with long horns resting on the outer edge.
After only one year, the team changed its name to the Chicago Zephyrs (a Zephyr is a westerly wind and Chicago is the windy city), which naturally led to presenting a new logo. The updated club received a radically new emblem. It consists of the single word “Zephyrs” stretched diagonally from top to bottom. The inscription is golden, with a black and white border. Near each letter, there are small strokes that indicate the speed of movement when wind resistance is formed during running.
1963 – 1968
After moving to Baltimore, Maryland, the franchise changed its name and logo. Since 1963, it was called Baltimore Bullets for some period. This is precisely what is reflected in the individual symbolism: a bullet piercing space against a sketchy ball’s background. On the trajectory of its flight is the word “Bullets,” starting with a capital letter. “Baltimore” is written in small print just above. The colors of the logo are red and blue.
1968 – 1969
In 1968, for a short time, a new emblem appeared, consisting of the orange word “bullets.” Two letters “l” are graphically played in it: they form two hands trying to catch a basketball. The first part of the team’s name is slightly higher on the left and is colored blue.
1969 – 1971
In this version, the designers changed the palette of the logo. They removed the orange color, made the word “bullets” blue and “BALTIMORE” blue. The artists repainted the basketball yellow.
1971 – 1972
The color change was also undertaken in the next version of the logo. Then both parts of the club’s name turned dark blue, and the ball turned brick red.
1972 – 1973
It was the end of the Baltimore era. The image didn’t change pretty much, yet the “Bullets” wordmark was scripted in light blue, and the basketball was light orange now. The designers returned the 1970 logo.
1973 – 1974
The franchise was uprooted from Baltimore to Landover, Maryland, and played a season as the Capital Bullets. The name change led to a logo redesign that took place in 1973. In this version, the text color is cobalt, the ball is brick red, and instead of the word “bullets,” “capital” (the first part of the new club name) is used.
1974 – 1987
After the relocation, when the franchise was relocated to Washington DC, management revised the logo. As a result, the name of the city where the team moved – Washington, appeared above the base inscription “bullets.” It is executed in uppercase. The color of the text and the ball has been slightly enhanced.
1987 – 1997
In this version, the creators of the logo decided to move away from the concept of hands with open palms and simplified the visual identification structure. They also made the letters cobalt, enlarged the “B” and turned the basketball so that the lines on it were not horizontal, but vertical.
1997 – 2007
In 1997, the sports club and its symbols began a new era: they had a different name – Washington Wizards and, accordingly, a magician. In the first version, the body and beard of the wizard form a black letter “W.” With one hand, the magician holds a ball with characteristic lines, while the other points to a star. In this case, the right arm is extended in the throw, and the leg stands behind the sickle of the crescent. At the bottom is the word “WIZARDS.”
2007 – 2011
During that period, the changes were minor: the developers lightened the color of the logo with a few tones.
2011 – 2015
In 2011, the color scheme was redone again on purpose to match the color of the American flag completely. The palette got a different scheme. The designers made the torso, palms, and face of the sorcerer blue, and the pants, sleeves, star, and cap – light red.
2015 – present
In 2015, the leadership introduced the new version of the team logo to fans, made based on the Washington Wizards alternative emblem (2011-2014). The current version consists of a circle made based on the classic rondel. The print-shaped logo contains a centerpiece, a wide border, and thin dividing lines. In the middle, there is a ball with a star. Two more stars are to the right and left of it. Above in the red box, it says, “Washington,” at the bottom on the blue side, it says, “Wizards.”
At the same time, the branded Washington stripes appeared on the logo. Three stars were reflecting Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
Anyway, the peculiarity of the new Washington Wizards logo is not in the appearance (there is nothing special, to tell the truth, it’s one of the most boring designs in the league). The point is at the time of its launch. It’s a rare, almost unique case: the team changed the logo right in the course of the season, exactly under the playoffs. In the basketball tradition, this is perhaps the first time the NBA logo was replaced, not in the off-season.
Font and Color of the Emblem
Despite the wide range of designs, each version of the logo has one thing in common: basketball. In some cases, it is the central detail; in others, it serves as a background. The current version contains the deepest symbols: three stars represent the three locations of the team – Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland.
The text on the updated emblem is reminiscent of Friz Quadrata Bold, a serif glyph typeface designed by Ernst Friz and Victor Caruso. A similar font is used in the mage and crescent logos. In the previous variations of the logo, the inscriptions were smooth, smooth, without abrupt transitions. Nowadays, narrower, strict characters are used with miniature half-notches at the ends of individual letters.
The official Washington Wizards palette list includes PMS 877 Silver, PMS 289 Navy Blue, and PMS 186 Red. White is also available as a secondary color.