Before they were the Golden State Warriors, the franchise that now resides in Oakland came from Philadelphia and made a stop in San Francisco, changing colors and uniforms along the way.
What is now the Golden State Warriors logo has changed very much as well, with a more modern, stylized look than its first incarnation in 1971. The evolution of the name and logo follow quite closely the evolution of the team and its journey across the country.
While this team has recently seen a streak of years in the basement, it was once a proud franchise that took a championship in its inaugural season in Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Warriors were established in 1946 as a member of the Basketball Association of America; their logo was a Native American dribbling a basketball, an image that would likely be considered today to be an offensive and derogatory depiction.
However, the logo lasted for almost twenty years, going through one update in 1951 to have a crisper, almost “clip art” look. During their stint in Philadelphia, the Warriors won another championship (in 1956) and signed center Wilt Chamberlain.
It was as a Philadelphia Warrior, in Hershey, Penn., that Wilt played his famous 100-point game against the New York Knicks.
Investor Franklin Mieuli teamed up with the Diners Club charge card company and bought up the majority shares of the Warriors in 1962, relocating the franchise to San Francisco. The team took the name, and the San Francisco Warriors logo began as a purple Native American headdress in a pale yellow circle, with the team’s name written around it.
Between 1962 and 1971, the Warriors courted three different arenas in the Bay Area; the majority of their games were played at the Cow Palace in Daly City, but they also played in Oakland and San Jose. The 1964-65 season saw Wilt Chamberlain return to Pennsylvania and the now-Philadelphia 76ers via a trade, and the fortunes of the Warriors took a turn for the worse.
In the meantime, they updated their logo to be a yellow circle with a purple rendition of the Golden Gate Bridge and “The City” written over the top.
In 1966, the Oakland Coliseum Arena opened for business, and the majority of the Warriors’ home games shifted to that arena. Finally, after booking almost entire seasons at the Coliseum Arena for several years, it was time to admit the obvious: the Warriors were no longer a San Francisco team. They changed their name to the Golden State Warriors, and became the only team in the NBA whose name does not include the proper name of the city or state they call home.
The Golden State Warriors logo became a yellow basketball with the shape of California overlaying it and a star roughly placed where San Francisco and Oakland exist on a map. This logo was updated every few seasons to be more and more modern in appearance until the 1996-97 season.
When Garry St. Jean became the general manager of the Warriors in 1997, the face of the franchise got yet another lift. Now the Golden State Warriors logo features a helmeted, muscled warrior gripping a lightning bolt that turns into jagged letters spelling out “Warriors.”
This much flashier design fits in with many of the league’s over-the-top exaggerations of animals, characters, and phenomenon, and was the franchise’s outward attempt to become a competitive member of the NBA again.
Since then, the Warriors have been in a nearly-perpetual state of rebuilding. They reached the playoffs in 2007, but were eliminated in the Conference Semifinals by the Utah Jazz.
Their search for the right young core of players continues; the Warriors will have a high pick in this year’s draft, so their hopes of getting a blossoming star of their own may not be in vain.