The Name Game: What to Name the Team Formerly Known As the Sonics

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The Name Game: What to Name the Team Formerly Known As the Sonics

Yesterday the verdict came in. The city of Seattle needed a payoff to allow the team to move to Oklahoma City. For $45 million up front and possibly $30 million later, the Seattle Sonics are no more. The previous owner is suing current owner Clay Bennett, saying he broke an agreement between the two to “make an honest effort” to work out a deal with the city of Seattle. This is nothing more than a publicity stunt. If the previous owner wanted the team to stay in Seattle he would have sold the team to someone not from Oklahoma City. Since there is no deal in writing this will be thrown out of court and Oklahoma City will enjoy NBA basketball in 2009.

Now, as part of the agreement between Seattle and Bennett, the green and white colors and the “Sonics” will stay in Seattle. So what should they name this “new” team.

The name of a team can go a long way towards success or mediocrity. It should be a name that makes sense for the city that hosts it while causing some level of intimidation. Here are some NBA teams that didn’t get it right.

"Charlotte Bobcats" – This name is just weak. The Bobcats sound like a middle school football team. The name came from the owner’s name, Bob. With that kind of reasoning it’s understandable how they hired Michael Jordan to make their basketball decisions. And how they’ve struck out.

"Memphis Grizzlies" – They faced a move from Vancouver to Memphis and took the Grizzly Bear with them. Outside of the Memphis Zoo it’s unlikely a Grizzly Bear has ever roamed the streets of Memphis. Thus the team has no identity.

"Washington Wizards" – They used to be the Washington Bullets, which was a perfectly good name, especially with the crime rates at times in D.C. No one likes to see bullets coming at them. The team struggled over the long haul so they booked the Wizard before he went to Alltel. Wizards make people laugh; they don’t intimidate anyone. It’s no surprise that after the first round of the playoffs the Wizards magically disappear.

"Los Angeles Clippers" – There are many definitions of a clipper. None of them have anything to do with basketball. The one the team inherited was the old 19th century ships that “were generally narrow for their length, could carry limited bulk freight, and small by later 19th century standards”. So they were fast but weak little ships that could get blown all over the place. I guess that explains why the Clippers are being blown away by the rest of the NBA every year in quick fashion. If they changed their name to “Stars” maybe they would turn into something

Now, Oklahoma City will have to make their decision on their colors and name. They can’t name the team the Sooners because another team in Oklahoma might have an issue with that. The name “Cowboys” is out too; otherwise the franchise will be chastised by a 40 year old man. Since Oklahoma is a big time college state I say they should have white and red-orange as their colors. That makes the most sense. The color could be like those red-orange jerseys the Sonics used to wear. That would keep a little of the old franchise alive. The name is a little trickier

They could just make up a name and call themselves the O.C. but I don’t think Oklahomans take kindly to Hollywood types around there. They need a name that has something to do with basketball and that natives in the area can relate to. One of the major industries (for lack of a better word) in Oklahoma City is the military. Therefore I think in 2009 the Sonics should transform into the Oklahoma City Shooters. It’s relevant to basketball, has something to do with the city, and rolls off the tongue nicely. And you can have Yosemite Sam as a mascot

That’s what I’ve come up with. Feel free to chime in.

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