Terrible NBA Team Names That Doomed Extinct Franchises

Ethan Sherwood StraussNBA Lead WriterDecember 5, 2012

Terrible NBA Team Names That Doomed Extinct Franchises

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    No offense, Oklahoma City Thunder fans, but your team has a terrible name. Same goes for you fans out there in Miami. Or, as Deadspin framed the plural issue per these teams, "The Thunder Are a Matchup Nightmare For Copy Editors. So Is the Heat."

    Considering that these might be the two best teams in the basketball, a bad name might not be such a harbinger of doom. If you happen to be a New Orleans Hornets fan who hates the "Pelicans" name change, take comfort in this.

    Before our current era of poorly named team success, many badly named franchises sunk into the swamp. Every other ABA team might qualify for such a distinction. So click with me and relive some of terrible monikers of NBA past. 

5. Chicago Stags

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    Stags? Really? Maybe it was different back in 1946 and people just used "stag" as opposed to "dear" when referring to members of the Cervidae family. But to my ears (and by extension, the ears of sports fans) it sounds like a moniker taken from Middle English prose.  

    The Chicago Stags did have some good fortune, though. Back in 1950, they acquired the rights to a young Bob Cousy. Of course, this was followed by the franchise folding and the (well-named) Boston Celtics getting Cousy in a dispersal draft.

    The Stags were crucial to Celtics lore and legend. Without their lack of business savvy, Boston would have been deprived of its first great point guard and possibly the six championships attached to his play. Go Stags!

4. Virginia Squires

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    In keeping with the odd Middle Ages theme (see: Chicago Stags), the ABA saw fit to name its Virginia franchise the "Squires." The Squires, despite their odd, feudal name, should have been a powerhouse. At a time, they boasted both George Gervin and Julius Erving, whom they drafted.

    Instead of finding glory, financial woes led the team to sell Erving to the New York Nets and Gervin to the San Antonio Spurs. Yes, the ABA was the wacky kind of place where you actually sold Hall of Famers for cash, as opposed to compensatory talent.

    It should be no surprise that, after parting with greatness, the Virginia Squires got swallowed up by the 1976 ABA merger. Perhaps if they'd held on to their superstars, they could have survived well into the NBA days. 

3. New Orleans Hornets

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    That's right, I'm jumping the gun on this. Now that New Orleans is going with the "Pelicans" moniker, we can bury the Hornets name. 

    It wasn't so bad when the Hornets played in Charlotte. There are few associations the common man makes with the Queen City, so the name might as well have been an annoying insect. But in New Orleans? After the Jazz had already been stolen and given to Utah?

    The Big Easy has too many associations to just idly go through decades as the Hornets. There's music, food, historical battles and, apparently, birds. While the Pelicans might not be the ideal choice among available names, I applaud the effort to move away from an insect.

    After all, pelicans are pretty intimidating: 

    When pelicans attack: Pelican devours pigeon (video): youtu.be/eaBQTb_XynA

    — Royce Webb, ESPN NBA (@RoyceWebb) December 5, 2012

2. Indianapolis Olympians

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    Indianapolis? Olympians? There has not been an Olympics held in Indiana, though The Onion made a funny video about a pretend Indianapolis bid for the five-ring honor: "Indianapolis Announces Really Embarrassing Bid For 2020 Summer Olympics."

    So the Indianapolis Olympians were prescient when it comes to comedy. They also weren't entirely a bad team, with two of their four seasons ending in winning records. So why did they fade away into oblivion?

    Well, the Olympians have the dubious distinction of being the only NBA team that suffered a major point-shaving scandal (via New York Times).

    You could argue that the NBA's tanking plague amounts to an annual point shaving scandal, but I suppose they took that tomfoolery more seriously back in 1950s. The scandal actually related to NCAA gambling, but it implicated two Olympians. In 1953, the team folded, partially as a result of the scandal. 

1. The Miami Floridians

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    You know what the worst team name in the NFL is? It's easily the Houston Texans. Nothing screams "lazy" like naming a team after your state. I don't care how fantastic your state happens to be. 

    In the case of Florida...well, let us not offend our Florida readership. Suffice it to say that our Southeastern most state is a low-tax place in which many enjoy residing, but it also happens to be a convenient joke target.

    Perhaps this wasn't true of Florida back in 1972 when the Floridians played their final ABA game. Regardless, Miami's pre-Heat team had a unimpressive five-season run after starting off with 50 wins in 1966-1967.