Every one of us sports fans has our favorite teams. And in this age of free agency, we try our darnedest to root for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back. Who knows when/if that superstar in his contract year will be shipped away for a player to be named later?
Teams with dumb names make it a little harder on their fans. I mean, how do you cheer for a Pelican or a Brown? But teams that go beyond dumb to nonsensical make it damn near impossible to cheer for them. The NBA seems to be particularly good at bad names, though the NFL and MLB won’t be outdone.
1. Utah Jazz
The Jazz as a team name makes sense… in New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz. That’s where the team got its start. But 35 years ago, the New Orleans Jazz packed up the wagons and headed west to Salt Lake, which isn’t generally known as a jazz hotbed. To further confuse things, the team’s logo features its name emblazoned across a mountain landscape. Why not just go full bizarre-o and add clouds raining musical notes?
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles isn’t known for its lakes. The big body of water out there — for the geographically challenged among us — is the Pacific Ocean. And while the Los Angeles Oceanographers would be ridiculous, at least it would make sense (and explain Kurt Rambis’s nerd-tastic glasses). The Lakers name is a vestige of the team’s origins in Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes. Sorry, Magic, Kareem, Kobe and, of course, Kurt, your careers are permanently tainted.
3. Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis, Tenn. is grizzly bear country… except it’s not. Vancouver (and north), where the team got its start, is home to the feared predator. Memphis is known for blues and barbeque and Beale Street and the birthplace of rock, Sun Studio, but no bears of the grizzly variety, unless you go to the zoo.
4. Washington Wizards
Once upon a time, DC was the country’s murder capital. And its basketball team was called the Bullets. You see the problem. So in fan-rallying fashion, the team tapped the wisdom of the masses, who came up with five even worse options: Express, Stallions, Dragons, Sea Dogs (go ahead, clean your glasses, it will still say “Sea Dogs”) and Wizards. Apparently local basketball fans forgot that Washington is our nation’s capital. The only upside is that it could have been even worse.
5. Washington Redskins
Look at that, another team from our nation’s capital; there seems to be lots of stupidity in that part of the country. The Redskins have found themselves in the news a lot lately, and not for winning. Okay, so it’s not football season. But they generally win the same number of games in May as they do in October. The team’s name — a derogatory term for Native Americans, which offends many of our fellow citizens — is the issue. Set aside your opinion on the name and answer one question. Does it make sense for the team from the city that represents everyone to have such a divisive mascot?
6. Indianapolis Colts
Like many NFL teams, the Indianapolis Colts hail from somewhere else. Though whereas the Oilers, for example, had the good sense to become the Titans after moving from Houston to Tennessee, the Colts stayed the Colts. Alas, Indianapolis just doesn’t have the horse racing and breeding tradition that Baltimore does. They do seem to know a little something about quarterbacks.
7. Los Angeles Dodgers
Dodgers is short for Trolley Dodgers, which is what New Yorkers called Brooklynites back before the two cities combined and we started calling them hipsters. The Brooklyn Dodgers eventually moved to Los Angeles, where nobody walks and nobody has to dodge anything other than advances from less famous people. Yet the Dodgers name stuck. Go figure.
Norm Elrod likes sports and other sanctioned forms of craziness.