NBA Proposal: Rebranding the New Orleans Jazz and Finding Sanity in Franchise Names

 (Michael DeMocker, Nola.com / The Times-Picayune)
(Michael DeMocker, Nola.com / The Times-Picayune)

I am going to propose a four-team trade in the NBA. This is not a swap of players, coaches or picks. This is a trade of franchise names. The first move has already taken place, between New Orleans and Charlotte. The next three should happen by the beginning of the next season.

Of the many welcomed changes in the NBA for the 2014-2015 campaign, few are as pleasing as the return of the Charlotte Hornets. The original Hornets franchise still resides in New Orleans since moving from Charlotte before the 2002 season.

Charlotte-BobcatsBut the name was returned to North Carolina, along with the Charlotte era history and stats, and given to the team that had been playing since 2004 as the Bobcats.

Nobody seemed to like the name Bobcats. In fact, the fans of Charlotte voted to name the team the Flight after the Wright Brothers. Granted, that is also an absolutely terrible name. But Bobcats had the stigma of egotism. The new owner Robert L. Johnson was known as “Bob.” Essentially he named the team after himself.

And the Bobcats did not leave much of an impact on the NBA. Despite having Larry Brown as a coach and Michael Jordan as an owner (or maybe BECAUSE of his ownership) the team did not win a single post season game, let alone a series.

new orleans hornets 183 logoThe Hornets have a more pleasant history, winning 4 different playoff series in Charlotte.

But with the Hornets name back where it belongs, let’s turn our focus to New Orleans. Their franchise is now called the Pelicans. No offense to those beautiful birds, but that is a dumb sounding name. That sounds like a CBA team from the 1980s. Or maybe a team in a movie about basketball where they couldn’t get the rights to actual NBA team logos.

thAs with Charlotte, New Orleans once had a great team name. They had the New Orleans Jazz. As “teams without an S in the name” go, New Orleans Jazz is about as good as it gets. (Much better than the Heat or Magic for my money.) It perfectly describes the feel of the city and what it is known for. Seriously, how far down the list would Pelicans be for Nawlins’ iconography?

Of course the Jazz still exist. They are in Utah. Truth be told, Pelicans could probably be found more frequently in Utah than any jazz musicians. The name Utah Jazz is so bizarre and contradictory that it is almost beautiful. I could try and think of a more absurd combination of team and city/state name, but I am at a loss. Even the Denver Mariners or Kansas City Dolphins would make more sense.

Utah_JazzThe Jazz have their great Stockton and Malone history along with a pair of trips to the finals. But that name belongs in New Orleans. It will bring back memories of Pistol Pete Maravich who brought his sweet moves across the state from LSU to the Jazz. Sure it would mean the New Orleans team would have three different names in four seasons. But think of how valuable the Pelicans jerseys would be for collectors.

With Charlotte and New Orleans taken care of, what should happen in Utah? Is there an NBA team name that could be a perfect fit for the Beehive State?

It is just sitting there and is North of the Border.

utahraptor_p1Take a look at this dinosaur. It is pretty ferocious and scary looking, isn’t it? Do you know what its official name is for paleontologists? It is the Utahraptor ostrommaysorum. Commonly, it is called the Utah Raptor.

They were fast, violent killing machines with giant claws that could grow to the size of a polar bear.

The Raptor name exists in Toronto basically because they were founded around the same time that Jurassic Park was super popular and everything Isaiah Thomas, the team’s original president, did was bonkers.

If he was putting together a team last winter with Frozen cleaning up at the box office, he would named the team the Snowmen.

toronto_raptorsBut the name makes scientific sense in Utah. It would be a scary mascot with links to the region instead of a reflection of what film was popular at the moment the team was made.

Where does that leave the Toronto team?

When Isaiah Thomas was reading the weekly movie box office grosses coming up with a team name, Toronto fans suggested several other names. The Grizzlies were one, but that is now taken. The Beavers were another one, but that would yield too many obscene jokes.

Guess what was another popular suggestion? The Bobcats. And if I am not mistaken, that name is now available.

So with this proposal, the 2015-2016 season would feature the Charlotte Hornets, the New Orleans Jazz, the Utah Raptors and the Toronto Bobcats.

What happens to the Pelicans? No doubt a D-League franchise could use a new name.


Paul “Sully” Sullivan is a Sports Contributor at The Scoop, and is also a successful baseball podcaster and stand-up comedian. Follow him on Twitter at @SullyBaseball.

 

 

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