The NBA logo is among the most iconic emblems in sports. Using that as inspiration, one artist reimagined its likeness for a new campaign in partnership with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), and it’s already gaining a significant amount of attention inside and outside the bubble.
Set Free Richardson is the creative director of The Compound, a creative agency that develops content in the art, music, fashion and sports industry. His latest venture, the “Play for Change” initiative and design, aims to bring awareness to racial injustices nationwide.
“The Black Lives Matter movement is important, and it was necessary for the players to have their own logo to represent that,” Richardson told Yahoo Sports.
While designing the image, a silhouetted player holding the ball with their first raised, Richardson was constantly reminded of this quote from late rapper Tupac Shakur: “I’m not saying I’m gonna rule the world or I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee you that I will spark the brain that will change the world. And that’s our job. It’s to spark somebody else watching us.”
The logo and campaign is not an official NBPA trademark, but rather an idea from The Compound, in partnership with the NBPA. To bring more attention to the campaign, Richardson personally hand-printed 300 “Play for Change” shirts and sent them to both individuals and team representatives in Orlando to be distributed to NBA players. Select teams — like the Celtics — even went a step further and wore team-inspired “Play for Change” hoodies, green with a black silhouette. Outside the bubble, Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving has lent his support for the cause.
Throughout the development of this project, Richardson emphasized that he was not looking to replace the NBA logo, but instead “connect imagery to personal experience.”
“Silhouettes in the NBA have been iconic for so long,” he explained. “Think of the Air Jordan logo, LeBron James’ crown. For me, it’s about progression. My hope is that we can build off this design and continue developing content that highlights the need for societal change.”
Richardson and the NBPA are also working on a charitable tie-back beyond social justice endeavors, spotlighting players’ charities in addition to supporting organizations that focus on minority health, housing and small business. No matter what they debut next, Richardson promises it will all focus on community outreach.
“There are a lot of things plaguing the Black community right now. Though we don’t have all the answers, we are doing everything we can to give back.”