Even though the NBA does a great job of hyping its individual star players, it has been perhaps the worst of the major sports leagues with logically identifying its team images to their locales. The return of the Hornets nickname to Charlotte is at least one step in the right direction. The name “Hornets” has appeared for minor league baseball, a World Football League gridiron franchise from the 1970s, and the NBA team all in Charlotte and derives its history for the city being a “hornets’ nest” during the Revolutionary War. If only other NBA franchises were that well-conceived.
It has been a long-held position from this corner that the NBA should have held about a six-way trade of franchise names, so that the packaging logically matches the community. The changing to the Pelicans in New Orleans and the return of the Hornets to Charlotte affects this somewhat, but let’s start West and work our way East. Sacramento and Memphis should trade nicknames. The “Memphis Kings” would logically honor the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and was once a proposed name for a potential NFL franchise back in the 1970s. The “Sacramento Grizzlies” fits Northern California in a state known for its Golden Bears and what flies on its state flag.
While the Los Angeles Lakers have been one of the most successful franchises in all of pro sports, they are also among the most inappropriately named. Since “Timberwolves” serves Minnesota well these days, it would make most sense for the “Utah Lakers” to represent Salt Lake City. By turn, the land of Hollywood CGI glitz should receive the name “Los Angeles Wizards” from Washington and the nation’s capital should adopt the “Washington Warriors” from Golden State. Between the Pentagon and General George Washington himself, this name makes far more sense. We should have ended up back with the “New Orleans Jazz” out of all this exchange, but thanks to the Pelicans, now not so much.
So where does this leave Golden State? “Bobcats” certainly serves no purpose there, but I would resurrect an old ABA nickname that would make far sense than when Pittsburgh bore it back in the early 1970s. Rechristen the Golden State franchise the “California Condors” to represent the entire Bay Area. What do you know? The NBA would have something resembling logical packaging of its wayward franchises. The odds of this happening, of course, are as likely as seeing actual cardinals flying in Arizona.