When it comes to naming a team in the National Basketball Association, in my opinion, the name can fall in any one of five categories. Unbeknownst to many so-called “fans” of basketball, there is an unspoken hierarchy among the various team names. Well, unspoken until now. In a “Paints in the Point” exclusive, we go…
INSIDE THE NAME
In Part One of “Inside the Name,” we looked at animal team mascots in the Association.
In Part Two of “Inside the Name,” we looked at the assorted alliterative team names found within the Association.
In Part Three of “Inside the Name,” we looked at team names in the Association that actually make sense, given their geographic location.
In Part Four of “Inside the Name,” we looked at team names that didn’t bother to change their name (and in some cases, their logo) after relocating their team to a new city.
Another week has passed, and now we move on to…
Part 5: Unacceptable
At last, we’ve reached the end of our journey through the various team names within the Association (for those who had problems viewing the images associated with Part Four, the images have been fixed, so feel free to read it again). The reason that these last four names have been saved for the last part is because they are simply “unacceptable.” They’re Kwame Brown to Michael Jordan, the player to be named later to a player actually named in a trade, the Product 19 to your Lucky Charms, the Rocket Power to your Hey Arnold!, the quality of my articles to the quality of The Custodian’s articles.
These “unacceptable” names are the ones that confuse, perplex, and otherwise make people go, “huh?” if they think about the name.
Look at the Phoenix Suns, for example. Why is their logo a plural of the noun “sun?” Does Phoenix have some strange weather phenomenon that entitles them to multiple suns? I understand that Phoenix is ridiculously hot during the summer, but this isn’t due to multiple suns beating down on them, to the best of my knowledge. To investigate this further, I did a quick Google Image search, and this is what I came up with:
Another odd choice for a team nickname is the Miami Heat. While Miami is typically hot and humid, it is nowhere close to the average temperatures of Phoenix, which is, on average, 15° warmer than Miami during the summer months. A secondary reason why the “Heat” is not a good name for a team is because it dangerously teeters on the fine line between a name in the NBA and a name in the WNBA. If someone was more familiar with the estrous cycle than the climate of Miami, they might assume that the team was a member of the WNBA. Or, perhaps, team owners would vote to banish the Heat from the Association to the women’s counterpart, as they did with the Minnesota Lynx in 1998.
In fact, Orlando considered the “Heat” nickname as their franchise was coming to fruition, but was eliminated from the shortlist because it “left a negative connotation to the area.” So how did Orlando’s franchise end up being called the “Magic?” Their website explains:
Williams’ 7-year-old daughter, Karen, paid a visit to her father from the family’s home in Philadelphia. After spending some time together… Pat took Karen to the airport for her flight home. As she waited for her flight, Karen said…
“I really like this place. This place is like Magic.”
In all fairness, a lot of things appear to have some magical qualities when you are seven years old. Many parents tell their kids that items are “magic” if they don’t know how it really works. In fact, I was under the belief that wizards made elevators go up and down until I was seventeen. Imagine my shock when I discovered the elaborate pulley system that makes elevators work!
This is not the first time that a team has taken a suggestion for a team name from the daughter of an owner. In fact, after the owner of the Denver Nuggets was looking for a new direction after they joined the NBA with this logo after the ABA merger:
Then, his daughter suggested the “Denver My Little Ponies.” He almost adopted the name, going as far as creating prototypes of the new jerseys:
In the end, he ended up keeping the Nuggets name, but went with a similar color scheme:
But, anyways, back to the Magic. The “Magic” most commonly found in Orlando is the “magic brownie,” sold by a raptor named Vince in the back alley of a Chili’s:
People also mistakenly assume that Walt Disney World is in the Orlando city limits, which would give credence to calling their team “the Magic” (e.g. Disney’s Fantasia, for instance). But some legal wrangling by Disney allowed them to become essentially autonomous in municipal law. In fact, Disney World is approximately a half hour away from the Orlando airport!
Another factor working against the “Magic” name is the fact that the term is intangible. Why would any team choose a name that is tough to represent with a pictorial logo? No one really knows why, but teams still select intangible names.
When the Seattle SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City, many wondered if they’d exhibit laziness and keep the “SuperSonics” name, or come up with their own. Oklahoma City missed a golden opportunity to capitalize on great corporate sponsorship by changing the “Sonics” name. “America’s Drive-In” has its headquarters in Oklahoma City, creating perfect sports team and corporate synergy. Just take a look at an “Oklahoma City Sonics” jersey:
Instead, Oklahoma City opted to name their team after a sound. I think upon telling their graphic designer the name they chose, the conversation went something like this:
“We’re going to be the ‘Oklahoma City Thunder.’ Make us a snazzy logo.”
“You realize that’s a sound, right?”
“Yeah, you can do something with sounds. We’ll have the first audible logo in the NBA!”
“You’re not listening to me. You cannot draw a sound. It’s impossible!”
“That reminds me – you can’t draw lightning to represent thunder. They’re not the same. Plus, we don’t want to get in trouble with the Tampa Bay Lightning.”
“Do you really want me to just throw some colors on something and give it back to you?”
“Ooh, I like colors!”
The graphic designer toiled away, and came up with this logo…
…which was quickly trounced by graphic designers and fans alike. One person even took the time to break down every part of the new logo to explain their hate for it.
There’s just nothing right with the Thunder’s name or logo. It is unequivocally unacceptable.
Alas, we’ve reached the end of “Inside the Name.” It’s been a nice six-week journey through the Association. If you liked this series, let us know! Eventually, all five parts will be available on one page, for those who don’t feel like clicking on links. (08/31/2009 Update: You can now view all parts of “Inside the Name” here. You’ll still have to click on links, since it took too long to load if it was all on one page.) Thanks for reading!
- Wildcat: Bobcats
- “Creature I don’t want to meet in the back alley of a Chili’s:” Raptors, Bulls, Timberwolves, Grizzlies, Hornets
- “Generally harmless, can cause major damage to car:” Bucks
- “Classic” Alliteration: Cavaliers, Wizards
- “Wannabe” Alliteration: Lakers, Nets, Spurs, Knicks
- Names That Make Sense: Celtics, 76ers, Pacers, Trail Blazers, Nuggets, Rockets, Mavericks
- “Creative Laziness:” Pistons, Warriors, Hawks, (Lakers, Rockets)
- “Unemployed-uncle-who-can’t-be-bothered-to-even-pry-his-fat-butt-off-of-his-couch-to-defecate Laziness:” Clippers, Jazz, Kings, (Hornets, Grizzlies)
- Unacceptable: Suns, Heat, Magic, Thunder