The Evolution of the Philadelphia 76ers Logo

Philadelphia 76ers logo header

Though you might know and root for the Philadelphia 76ers today, the franchise joined the National Basketball League as the Syracuse Nationals in 1949 before relocating to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from upstate New York in 1963. In over 50 years they’ve called the City of Brotherly Love their home, the 76ers have delighted fans with 33 appearances in the playoffs and two NBA championships.

Given their deep connection with the city and its populace, we decided to delve deeper into the team’s history to examine how the 76ers logo has evolved over the years.

Give Us Basketball or Give Us Death

After their relocation, the team needed a new name (continuing to be called the Syracuse Nationals in Philadelphia wouldn’t endear the locals). The organization ran a naming contest, which was eventually won by Walter Stahlberg from West Collingswood, New Jersey, in 1963. Thus the Philadelphia 76ers were born. They brought their first title to the citizens of Philadelphia in the 1966–67 season, when the 76ers bested the Boston Celtics and San Francisco Warriors en route to their second franchise championship.

This was made possible by the addition of one of the 76ers’ greatest players, Wilt Chamberlain. A native of Philadelphia, Wilt only stayed with the team for three incredible seasons before being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers and entering into the next chapter of his career away from his hometown. He earned the highest individual honor – Most Valuable Player – in all three of his seasons with the 76ers.

Life, Liberty, and Logos

Philadelphia 76ers logo evolution graphic

The Philadelphia 76ers have used five different primary logos to represent their team since 1963. Each logo uses the number 76 in addition to stars and circles (mostly in the form of a basketball). The logo draws inspiration from the city’s roots as a significant setting in America’s fight for independence from the U.K. in 1776. Philadelphia hosted the Second Continental Congress where the Declaration of Independence was adopted – the inspiration for the team’s name.

Let’s look at how the 76ers have paid homage to the amazing history referenced by their name throughout their logos.

1963–1976: The number 76 takes on the colors of the American flag. Above the number 7 is a circle of 13 stars, which represent the 13 colonies that eventually became the country’s first states.

1977–1996: The “ers” is added after the 76. A blue and white basketball is added behind the logo for additional effect.

1997–2008: This logo constitutes a massive shift away from the prior two logos. While it keeps some of the red and blue, gold becomes a prominent color in the text and basketball, which has a blue trail streaking behind it.

2009–2014: The 1977-96 logo is restored and surrounded by a red background, like a postage stamp. Beneath this is a blue box with the name of the city in white text.

2015–2016: The postage stamp format is dropped for a blue circular framing. The blue border contains the city name and six stars in white.

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