Team Nickname Mega-poll Part 2: NBA & NHL

As promised, here is Part 2 of the Sport Change team nickname mega-poll.  Please take the time to read through and make your picks.  If you haven’t had the chance to vote in mega-poll Part 1, here’s the link.

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Background

For several months, Sport Change has been conducting a ridiculous amount of research on sports team nicknames, or monikers.  Please view The Moniker Monitor, our collection of posts on the subject.  We’ve scoured through the Big Four pro sports leagues, all of NCAA Division I, and Minor League Baseball, among other sources.  There have been rankings, visions of reversion, and gazes directed to the past as well as the future.

Much of this work has built to a series of posts that are forthcoming in the next month or two: the Ideal Leagues.  This series will focus on how the Big Four professional sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL) would look if Sport Change ruled the world.  There will some reimagining, relocation, expansion, and yes–name change.  While piecing these posts together, there were several name changes that could go a number of different ways; with many new choices roughly equal.  As such, it’s time to poll the audience.

An upcoming Sport Change post will share the top fifty sports team monikers that Sport Change has deemed most worthy of consideration for pro sports use.  Many of these are used in the polls below, but each poll has one or two unique choices thrown in to reflect the specific geography.  Each poll below also has an introduction to put it into context, and multiple choices.  Please place a vote in each poll and leave comments.  Each poll box has it’s own separate comment box, and there is also the comment box on the bottom of the post.  Overwhelming poll results will likely be used in the Ideal Leagues, though Sport Change reserves the right to veto power.  Happy polling!

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NBA Poll #1: Should the Pacers get a new name?

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Let’s be honest: the Indiana Pacers have a highly questionable nickname.  Pacers.  Supposedlyit’s a reference to both horse-racing and pace cars at the Indy 500.  What could be more exciting that pace cars?  Let’s make this a two part poll.  1.) Should the Pacers seek a name change?  2.) If so, to what?  Here are a few suggestions–mostly retreads from our two polls in part 1 that dealt with teams in Indiana.  Knights and Stallions are two solid monikers that are surprisingly absent from the Big Four.  Both would seem to work here.  I’ll also add in Racers–a reference to the Indy 500 that isn’t the most boring car on the track.  It should be noted that while the Pacers have a devoted fan base, they’re right in the basement in terms of ticket sales.  A nice new brand would likely help, and now would be the time to change.  Here goes:

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NBA Poll #2: What about the Nets?

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The Brooklyn Nets are certainly an interesting brand.  The team moved from Newark, New Jersey to Brooklyn amid much fanfare.  In the process, they changed their place name, got new uniforms, and rebooted their roster.  The rebranding experiment has been a big success thus far, but one obvious change was noticeably ignored: the team nickname.  Nets is a very questionable pro team moniker, and was ranked 95th out of 122 unique monikers in the Big Four.  It’s cute how it rhymes with Jets and Mets, but it’s an inanimate object with an air of passivity.  Would you like to be a net?  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Balls would be a better nickname than Nets.  At least you’re the object doing the scoring and not the reverse.  We’ll run this the same way we did with the Pacers.  Other existing teams that play in Brooklyn such as the LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds and the Mets A-ball affiliate Brooklyn Cyclones have terrific names, and the NBA team should follow suit.  The Cyclones are a reference to the Cyclone roller coaster in Coney Island–visible from the ballpark.  Here are suggestions from the Sport Change 50 unused potential pro nickname list: Knights, Barons, Legends, Bulldogs, Comets, and Arrows.  I’m tempted to throw Balls in there too, but I’m worried that it would win the poll.

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NBA Poll #3: A new identity for the Washington Wizards

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When the Washington Bullets changed their name in the mid-nineties, it seemed like a welcome switch.  ‘Bullets’ was once a moniker celebrated for the players being as fast as speeding bullets, but rising murder rates in DC coupled with nineties political correctness made the name seem dated and dangerous.  Then the Wizards were born.  It was unique, to be sure, and it seemed to fit with the nineties trend of gimmickry and goofiness in the NBA–Wizards lining up next to Hornets, Magic, and (sigh) Raptors.  Shortly after the rebranding, the Wizards came under fire for the KKK connotation.  Oops.  The Wizards team seemed relevant at various times.  Chris Webber and Juwan Howard (40% of the Fab Five) were some of the first to don the Wizard apparel, and then Michael Jordan came out of retirement again.  The team never made it to the top, and as of this writing has hit a new low.  Washington Wizards has terrific alliteration, but it rides alliteration in much the same way as the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Both of those would be outstanding minor or developmental league nicknames, but the Big Four?  Not so much.  The Wizards have attempted to tweak their brand recently, but it’s the name that really needs changing.  But to what?  In this lengthy article on the genesis of the Wizards brand, many names that bubbled up from the name-the-team contest were revealed.  The five finalists were Wizards, Dragons, Stallions, Express, and Sea Dogs. The Portland Sea Dogs baseball team owns that name, so it’s off the table.  I despise ‘Express’ for a nickname, and it always seems to come up in name-the-team contests.  Dragons and Stallions are both nicknames that are on (or near) the Sport Change top fifty unused by the Big Four list, so we’ll carry them along.  Other discarded suggestions from that article include two that are on the list: Cobras and Generals.  Other goofy suggestions that we will not use include Antelopes, Astronauts, and Geckos.  Stars was also brought up, so we’ll include it even though the Dallas hockey team has the name.  I’m tempted to throw Washington Wolves in there, but the T-Wolves claim that moniker.  From our top fifty list, I’ll add two more: Grays, in reference to the old Washington-based Homestead Grays of the Negro Leagues.  The Washington Nationals were nearly called the Grays a few years ago.  I’ll also add a wildcard: the Washington Whirlwinds.  Now that’s riding alliteration!

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NBA Poll #4: When the Grizzlies moved to Memphis

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This is certainly a topic that will be covered in the Sport Change Ideal NBA post, so let’s look at this historically.  The Vancouver Grizzlies were an iconic and terrific brand for a city that was not able to support an NBA team.  When they moved, Memphis was an exciting new choice for a host city.  Rather than hold on to the regionally irrelevant Grizzlies moniker, Memphis should have decided to get a brand of it’s own.  We’ll pretend that happened.  The first question is whether to use Memphis as a place name or to go with the whole state of Tennessee like the NFL’s Titans.  Blues is a good suggestion, but is unavailable due to the NHL’s St. Louis franchise.  If the hockey team changed brands, that could well….change.  To use another wacky color-based nickname, we’ll go with Tans since it sounds like the ABA’s old Memphis Tams.  Memphis is a bit of a cocky city, so names like Dukes and Monarchs seem appropriate.  Renegades is an energetic nickname that seems to fit with the region.  Tornadoes represents the weather phenomena.  To top it off: Catfish, Turtles, and Bees make up the novelty animal nicknames.

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NBA Poll #5: a move to Baltimore

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In the Sport Change Ideal NBA, the Orlando Magic will be relocating to Baltimore, Maryland.  Once upon a time, Baltimore had the Bullets–then they shot off down the Beltway to DC.  With the successes of the Colts and Orioles, the Charm City has proven that it’s a first tier sports market with good potential for supporting an NBA franchise.  In the Ideal NFL, the Colts never moved from Baltimore, of course.  Of course, the Magic moniker has seen better days.  It was very rad twenty years ago, but Shaq and Penny are long gone.  The Charm City needs it’s own identity.  What about Charms?  It’s a small step up from Magic.  Baltimore is the city that inspired the Star Spangled Banner, so let’s suggest Stars and Banners.  If St. Louis gave up on Blues, this could be a good reference to the blue crab–a regional delicacy.  Since the NFL’s Colts remained in place, the clever Poe reference–Ravens–remains available.  As a final thought, we’ll trot out the trusty old Stallions.  Baltimore has a rich history of horseracing, and the Canadian Football League once had a team in Baltimore called the Stallions.  No joke.  They even won a Grey Cup.

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NBA Poll #6: an expansion team in OKC

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In the Sport Change Ideal NBA, the Supersonics never left Seattle.  Rather than attempt to steal a franchise from another city, Oklahoma businessman Clay Bennett whines and pleads until David Stern allows an expansion team for Oklahoma City.  Some fans like Thunder, but Bennett must be careful.  Without any young stars on his team, they could flounder with a poor-quality nickname like that.  Entertaining the weather aficionados of OKC, he offers up Cyclones and Tornadoes as possible choices.  To fit with the Wild West imagery, Aces, Barons, and Mustangs are suggested.  One more alliterative nickname, the Owls, is thrown in for good measure.  What’s it gonna be?

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NBA Poll #7: an expansion team in Pittsburgh

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To balance out the NBA conferences, David Stern also grants Pittsburgh, PA an expansion franchise.  Many nickname suggestions were dug out of the past.  The NBA once had a team in Pittsburgh called the Ironmen, the ABA had the Pittsburgh Condors, and the CBA had the Piranhas.  Presently speaking, the new ABA has a team called the Phantoms.  Stars is suggested as a reference to the iconic Pittsburgh symbol of the four point star.  Another suggestion, the Vipers, has teeth and cleverness.  The Pitt Vipers.  Let your voice be heard now!

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HOCKEY TIME

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NHL Poll #1: a new identity for the Islanders

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It was recently announced that the New York Islanders would be relocating from Long Island to Brooklyn in a few years.  This came as good news, since the Islanders are unable to sell any tickets in their current locale.  However, much to the chagrin of Sport Change–it was announced that the complete New York Islanders nickname would continue to exist.  I’m all for preserving history (however minimal) but this is like the Colorado Rockies moving to Nebraska and keeping their nickname.  Islanders was a specific reference to Long Island, and their logo even has a rendering of the island.  Moving to Brooklyn is a terrific chance to keep the team alive, but it’s something even more rare: the chance to be the ideal Big Four brand.  So…the Islanders need a new nickname.  The ‘New York’ place name can remain in place, or it can be Brooklyn.  Both are acceptable.  To rhyme with the Jets, Mets, and Nets; I humbly suggest Vets–which can be used as a reference to both war veterans and animal doctors.  (half kidding)  A legitimate name, Knights, would work nicely here.  If the New York-Penn League’s baseballers changed their name, Cyclones would be nice as an allusion to the famous Coney Island roller coaster.  Monarchs has a nice air of authority to it, and would be a counter to the L.A. Kings.  Cockiness can be taken to a whole new level with Legends.  To top it off, Arrows and Comets would work well, and how about an outlier–Griffins.  What do you think?

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NHL Poll #2: There’s an NHL team in Kansas City

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In the Sport Change Ideal NHL, there is an NHL team in Kansas City, Missouri–either via expansion or relocation.  The NHL once had a team in Kansas City called the Scouts, so would that be a logical name choice?  A defibrillation?  Monarchs is a nice authoritative name that references the old Negro League Kansas City club.  But would that be a misuse of history?  Kansas City Cyclones has a nice ring to it, and that region is certainly famous for twisters.  The television graphic that gives a tail of light to the hockey puck looks like a comet, so how about Comets?  Let’s throw an animal in there, too.  Cobras, it is.

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NHL Poll #3: There’s an NHL team in Saskatchewan.

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Let’s finish this off with another from the Ideal NHL.  In the Sport Change world, the province of Saskatchewan has a new NHL franchise located in either Saskatoon or Regina.  It seems like a long shot, and probably is, but there’s more of a chance than you might think.  All will be explained in that upcoming post.  For now, we need a name.  The place name will be Saskatchewan; to represent the entirety of the province much in the same as the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders.  Saskatchewan is known for agriculture and wildlife.  I’ll throw in Ranchers for the ag side of things.  Animals are interesting here.  The Saskatchewan coat of arms features a whitetail deer and beaver, among other animals.  Both are fair game.  We’ll also throw in Huskies and Bobcats, which seem to fit the region somewhat.  Let’s mix in two generic names that work for hockey–Arrows and Comets.  What would be the best fit for our neighbors to the north?

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And that, my friends, concludes the Sport Change two-part mega-poll.  If you haven’t voted Part 1 yet, here’s the link.  Thank you for participating, and stay alert for more great upcoming posts.

SPORT CHANGE

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2 comments
  1. Maria Maccamini-Cowan said:

    Mets-Jets-Nets, back to Bullets, Brooklyn Dodgers

  2. Yes, Maria—Mets, Jets, Nets. I’ll assume you voted for Vets in the NY Islanders rebranding poll.

    Bullets will not come back, despite that being a very classic nickname. LA would have to let go of Dodgers, and they’ll do that the same day they let go of Lakers.

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