Saturday, May 23, 2009

Six NBA Teams that DESPERATELY need to be renamed

1) Utah Jazz- The Utah Jazz kick off this list with an unfortunate trend present across sports but particularly evident in the NBA. I refer of course to the fact that the Jazz were once based in New Orleans, where jazz is a quite distinct aspect of their society, then kept their nickname after being moved to a place where the nickname no longer carried any meaning. Anyways, with the team apparently losing money in New Orleans the owner, Sam Battistone, understandably chose to move the team to a much better market for a professional basketball team. I’m not quite sure what made him think that Salt Lake City Utah was that market, but the team was moved to the Mormon capitol of the world. Battistone apparently was too lazy to rename the team, despite the fact that Utah and Jazz go together about as well as Compton and Bluegrass. Honestly, would it have been that hard to name the team the Avalanche, the Blizzard, or the Polygamists? The organization now even seems to be taunting us, as in 1996 the Jazz changed their logo from a music note to the word Jazz superimposed over snow-covered peaks. All that said, it’s hard to be too critical of the people of Utah for having such an inappropriately named basketball team, as they don’t exactly have a penchant for original choices in naming. Verily, these are the same people who built a city next to a giant lake distinguished by its high concentration of salt and named it Salt Lake City.

2) New Orleans Hornets- In a twist of poetic irony, basketball returned to the Big Easy as a result of George Shinn (one of the biggest jerk owners ever) moving his Charlotte Hornets franchise to New Orleans. For those not well-versed in the history of Charlotte (shame on you), Charlotte was once referred to as “a veritable nest of Hornets” by British general Charles Cornwallis during the Revolutionary war. However just to slap the city in the face as he was making the way out the door (one of his many admirable qualities along with being accused of raping a woman), Shinn decided to keep the name in New Orleans despite a plethora of possibilities (one suggestion I really like is the Crawfish, which is definitely relative to New Orleans culture, and would result in some pretty amazingly hideous uniforms, credit to the ESPN board on that one). Now the team is named the Hornets, and since there is no longer any historical significance to the name, they basically are named after an annoying insect whose biggest threat are a few stings and can be anhilliated with a can of Raid. Although to be fair, the results could have been a lot worse if he had chosen to move the Carolina hockey franchise to New Orleans.

3) Oklahoma City Thunder- I don’t have a huge problem with the choice of the “Thunder” nickname for Oklahoma city per se, rather I just am angry they did not choose a to name the franchise the Oklahoma City Bandits instead. While “Bandits” may not at first seem to be that amazing of a nickname, allow for some brief explanation of why it is by far the most appropriate for the franchise. First, and less importantly, Oklahoma was part of the western frontier where the thieving ways of the cowboys was present. More important however, is the circumstances under which the franchise was moved. In 2006, a group of investors bought the Seattle Supersonics. Despite a huge public outcry of loyal Sonics fans, the investors mercilessly yanked the team from Seattle and relocated it to Oklahoma City. Given these circumstances I feel it is a sin not to name the team the Bandits. I mean come on people, it’s not that friggin hard.

4) Toronto Raptors- After conducting extensive research (aka Wikipedia) concerning the origin of the Toronto Raptors nickname, I discovered that the main influence for the choice of the name Raptors was the movie Jurassic Park. While Jurassic Park is a great film, I have a hard time respecting the people who figured naming the team after a dinosaur that was misrepresented in Jurassic Park (the real velociraptor was less than 2 ft tall). What is even more hilarious is the list of the top ten other nickname options alongside Raptors: Beavers, Bobcats, Dragons, Grizzlies, Hogs, Raptors, Scorpions, T-Rex, Tarantulas, and Terriers. I really don’t know where to start with that list. Apparently, the franchise really wanted to compensate for the fact than an NBA team had no business in Canada by choosing what they must have felt were intimidating mascots; Scorpions, Tarantulas, and my personal favorite T-Rex (apparently only one, because multiple T-Rexes would just be too intimidating). While many Canada-related nicknames would have been better choices, I really just can’t get away from what I feel is the best nickname on the list, the Toronto Terriers. The diminutive stature and relative harmfulness of these small dogs would have been an excellent metaphor for a team that has contributed basically nothing to the league since their inception, eh?

5) Charlotte Bobcats- The Bobcats mascot in and of itself is pretty standard really. However, there is a fairly well-founded suspicion that the team is named after owner Bob Johnson, which, if true, would put Johnson somewhere between Paris Hilton and T.O. on the oversized ego scale. Think of it this way, assuming that the Bobcats name was intentional, Johnson basically decreed that all of his players had to wear his name on their jerseys. Regardless, this attitude, along with the choice to draft Adam Morrison, has understandably led to a less than enthusiatic response from the city. However, the Bobcats did show some promise late this season and perhaps a new nickname (and good draft) would help push them over the edge. While recent news has suggested that Johnson is looking to sell the team (making the name-insertion point moot), I still think the best course would be to just rename the team the Charlotte Hornets and just pretend that the whole thing never happened.

6) Washington Wizards- The Wizards are unique among this list in that they experienced a name change without actually moving (though they were not originally located in Washington). As some of you may remember, the Wizards were originally named the Bullets, but in 1995 the team was renamed the Wizards because of the "violent overtones" of the Bullets name. While not entirely surprising in this age of overzealous (to the point of absurtity) political correctness, I feel this name change was amazingly asanine. If the team had been named the Uzis, Armor-Piercing Rounds, or Rocket-Propelled Grenades, then I could see where a change would be necessary. But I think most competent sports fans would understand that name Bullets was meant more to refer to speediness on the basketball courts, rather than an endorsement of voluntary manslaughter. Furthermore, as far as overtones go, "Wizards" isn't exactly the epitome of innocence. For those of you who don't know (and I only do thanks to high school history), "Wizard" is a high rank in the Ku Klux Klan. So congratulations Washington you went from murder to racism, that's not exactly a big step in the right direction. The Wizards really haven't won anything since the name change so I think a name change is once again in order. I understand if the "Bullets" nickname is not a prime choice, so I think the Washington Generals might be a nice name (after all, Washington was a much better General than he was a president).

So there you go. There are plenty of other less than stellar team names in the NBA, but to me, the aforementioned six were the ones who most needed a change. If you have some passionate feelings about another team either comment on the post or contact me via the Facebook Group, and I may add it to the post. A quick note: I know the Lakers name makes no sense (the team moved from Minneapolis, which is close to the Great Lakes, to Los Angeles which is close to the Pacific), however, given their legacy of success (9 since moving to the city of angels) and the nice alliteration, I think they have earned the right to keep a meaningless name.

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