No Bull About It! The True Story Behind The Chicago Bulls Legendary NBA Logo An Iconic Bull For The Ages As sports fans joyously relive Michael Jordan’s basketball legacy over the 10 hours of Netflix’s “The Last Dance” documentary, they’re re-immersed in the world of…
No Bull About It! The True Story Behind The Chicago Bulls Legendary NBA Logo
An Iconic Bull For The Ages
As sports fans joyously relive Michael Jordan’s basketball legacy over the 10 hours of Netflix’s “The Last Dance” documentary, they’re re-immersed in the world of the NBA, Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen, and that singular period in the 90s when the Chicago Bulls dominated the culture.
If people were previously exposed to the Bulls’ memorable insignia, they now found it everywhere they looked. That furrow-browed 2-D bull face glared at them from posters, billboards, sweatshirts, sportscasts, and basketball souvenirs the world over.
During this period, Dean Wessel, the Illinois designer who created the iconic trademark, couldn’t have been more thrilled. When he created the logo back in the late 60s, it looked as though promoting a struggling Chicago basketball team was a losing proposition.
Before his death in 2004 at the age of 84, Wessel described the team in 1967 as “a bunch of castoffs.” At the time, the team was only attracting about 2000 fans per game, and Wessel essentially took the design assignment for a lark. His total payment for that now legendary mascot image? A handful of free game tickets.
Wessel was surprised as anyone by the heights of the team’s success years late — and only jokingly embittered to receive no royalties from the famed logo. According to Wessel’s daughter Karen, money wasn’t what drove his passion for art and design. He simply loved it from the moment he picked up a crayon at the young age of only 2.
“It’s why I love watching the games at the United Center — there he is, right in the middle of the court. I love it,” Karen has stated. “Just seeing that Bull and watching those guys play, I really can feel him.”
Legacy + Pride Over Fortune
She goes on, “He never saw a dime, and he kicked himself in his older age and wished he would have done something to make his life easier, but really when it gets right down to what one’s legacy is — if you’ve lived a good life and have been a good man, it’s a lot better than to make a lot of money.”
Over the decades, Wessel always felt extensive pride that the Bulls never felt a need to alter his original rendering. To this day, one of the only major updates came in 2016 for the team’s 50th anniversary when they added six golden stars to commemorate that astonishing winning streak at the end of the last century. But the bull itself — that glowering horned animal remains unchanged.
However, Wessel did make one notable revision to his work before it debuted. He reminisced that it “was right after I first submitted it to [Bulls owner] Klein. Dick looked it over and sent it back to me, saying, `I want blood on the horns. Blood!’ I, of course, obliged him.”
Perhaps that final touch was an early intimation of the victories to come. At the very least, it was enough to make sports journalist Zach Lowe rank the Bulls logo the best of the entire league. “Look at that glare and those flaring nostrils. This thing is perfect, right down to the red tips of the horns!”
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