To a designer, the world is a canvas, one big opportunity for improvement–and a favorite part of that canvas for designers who spend a lot of time thinking about American sports is the football helmet. We’ve seen helmets reimagined for the NFL teams in the Star Wars universe, helmets remixed with bigger, bolder, brighter logos and colors, and more–but until now, we hadn’t seen helmets repurposed for a sport that has no use for them. Hence: James Politi and Luke Daly’s “If The NBA Had Helmets” project.
Politi introduced the project on Reddit without due fanfare: “I’m an unemployed graphic designer who misses the NFL and has to watch basketball with his friends,” he explained, offering a link to 30 different helmet designs that have no utility because basketball does not require them. (Indeed, part of the game’s marketability involves the fact that you can see the players’ faces on the court.) Politi’s designs include not just the helmet itself, but also an updated logo, as well as a brief rationale behind the choices for each team–the Orlando Magic, for example, feature the team’s star logo and an explanation for how it was arrived at. “We didn’t want to speckle the helmet with stars, and we wanted to set them apart from the Cowboys,” he writes, “We did that through the use of pinstripes.”
Politi and Daly set out some rules for themselves at the onset of the project–every logo had to be modified to fit the helmet, so no copy/paste jobs, and because NFL team logos rarely feature footballs, NBA team helmets couldn’t feature basketballs. Within that framework, there turned out to be a lot of opportunities for creativity–not to mention the creativity of creating 30 helmets for a sport where head injuries are so rare that there is literally no point to them whatsoever.