Few people have probably ever heard of Dean P. Wessel, but he was the creative genius behind one of the most iconic logos in all of sports.
Wessel was an advertising graphic artist, who was just trying to help out a friend.
From his Chicago Tribune obit in 2004:
As the story goes, in the 1960s Mr. Wessel agreed as a favor to Dick Klein, a fellow Little League coach, to design a logo for the fledging basketball team Klein had just founded and named the Chicago Bulls. Mr. Wessel sketched the logo, coloring its face red at Klein’s request and then, also at his request, adding the same color to the tips of the bull’s horn to represent blood.
Wessel, according to the story, never got paid for his work but received some free tickets.
Grantland’s Zach Lowe (as only he can) ranked every NBA team logo.
The bottom five: 30. Thunder; 29. Clipper; 28. Pistons; 27. Timberwolves; 26. Knicks.
Top five: 1. Bulls; 2. Hornets; 3. Heat; 4. Bucks; 5. Grizzlies.
Here’s what Lowe said about the Bulls’ logo:
This was never going to end anywhere else. This thing is perfect, right down to the red on the tips of the horns, which suggests that this mean [mother——] just gored some poor sap. Look at that glare, and those flaring nostrils! The most enjoyable forms of entertainment tiptoe to the border of kitsch without crossing over, and that’s right where this logo stops. Add another color, and that blaring red might lose 5 percent of its power. Depict a full head-to-toe bull, and you’ll end up with a children’s cartoon character.
This is a cartoon, but it’s not quite cartoonish. It’s simple and clear, and it depicts exactly what the team wants to be: a tough group about to shove the ball down your throat. Thank god the franchise didn’t pollute it with the awful balloon letter font that tars the court design.
The Bulls know what they have. Chicago is the only team that has never changed its primary mark, and the only partial or secondary logo it has used is this exact bull head without the wording above it.
Check out the video below, which shows every NBA logo changing over time except for the Bulls.