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 that played in the former weapons storehouse. In addition, 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 who were far from basketball, couldn’t stop discussing 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 according to the fact that 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 man who is far from this organization, just chose the appropriate name that would be nice to children.
Washington Wizards logo history
Started in 1962 with an attempt to develop basketball in Chicago, where baseball and soccer were the favorite games, the franchise changed 14 logos and 6 team names. For a long time, the logo featured “Bullets” wordmark, the team’s former name. Then it included an iconic image of a wizard with a white beard. Moreover, the team moved from Chicago to Baltimore, and then to Washington. In 2015, the team got away from a bearded magician twirling a basketball and leaping over a crescent moon in their logo.
The team now known as the Washington Wizards began playing as the Chicago Packers, whose name was a nod to city’s meatpacking industry. So the original logo featured an orange basketball with a bull’s head on it.
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. It included the gold-scripted “Zephyrs” wordmark aligned across diagonally. The capital letter “Z” also had a thin blue outline.
1963 – 1968
Moving to Baltimore, Maryland, the city with a rich military history, the franchise changed the name to Bullets. The team employed a logo depicting a dark blue basketball with a large red-scripted “Bullets” wordmark. It also featured a blue speeding bullet piercing a basketball to symbolize the name of the team. The city of Baltimore wordmark was located in the upper right corner in dark blue.
1968 – 1969
In 1969, the team abandoned the previous logo in favor of something far more contemporary. It unveiled their first logo with a recognizable “Bullets” wordmark. Double “l” looked like a pair of hands stretching to the orange basketball. The team name was written in bright orange as well. The blue-scripted “Baltimore” wordmark was moved to the upper left corner of the logo.
1969 – 1971
The 1970 logo was a slightly altered version of the previous one. The “Bullets” and “Baltimore” wordmarks were scripted in light blue. The basketball, thrown up by the pair of hands, remained orange, but of a paler and lighter hue.
1971 – 1972
The sixth logo changed its color combination. The central wordmark was written in a bright dark blue color, while the basketball became more reddish.
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. Actually, 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 logo used the key elements of the 1972 logo, including the same color scheme, yet the “Baltimore” wordmark was replaced by “Capital”.
1974 – 1987
In 1975, the team changed its name in favor of the Washington Bullets. Their new logo underwent slight alterations to be employed for the next 12 years. The pair of hands, standing for “ll” in the dark blue “Bullets” wordmark, was still tossing a red basketball. The name of the city was located in the upper left corner of the logo.
1987 – 1997
The 1988 logo incorporated the redesigned image and lettering. The font of the main wordmark was changed. Furthermore, the name of the city was removed from the logo. Hands throwing the ball changed their shape and design to look more lifelike. However, the key concept of the logo remained the same.
1997 – 2007
As Pollin, the owner of the club decided that the former club’s name Bullets wasn’t suitable to the criminal capital of Washington, in 1997 it was renamed into the Washington Wizards. The team’s first year as the Washington Wizards brought about an overhaul to the logo. An iconic bearded wizard with a “W” for his torso was wearing blue clothes and a blue hat. He was spinning a golden basketball on his finger while lighting a golden star with the other hand. He stood on a basketball crescent moon. The blue-scripted “Wizards” lived beneath the logo.
2007 – 2011
The 2007 logo was almost identical to the previous one. The given logo just served minor updates to the color details. The white-bearded wizard in the blue hat still held a golden basketball.
2011 – 2015
In 2011, the color scheme was redone again on purpose to completely match the color of the American flag. Now the Washington Wizards logo has become blue and red. The team also changed the second alternative logo, where a figure resembled a ball, painted in blue and red colors. In addition, there was a silver star.
2015 – till now
In 2015, the leadership introduced the new version of the team logo to fans, made on the basis of the Washington Wizards alternative emblem (2011-2014). It was a basketball ball, stylized in such way that one of the seams turned into a famous granite obelisk resembling The Washington Monument.
At the same time, the branded Washington stripes appeared on the logo. There were three stars 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 say the truth, it’s one of the most boring designs in the league). The point is at the time of its launching. It’s the 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 of the replacement of the NBA logo not in the off-season.