The Top 10 Worst Team Names In Professional Sports

Paul M Baxter@thesmellymittenContributor ISeptember 17, 2010

The Top 10 Worst Team Names In Professional Sports

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    An old Chinese proverb says that "The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names."

    For those who run the following 10 franchises, wisdom seems to be in short supply, as the names affixed to their team's jerseys, hats, and so forth, are anything but right.

    What follows are, in my humble opinion, the wrongest of the wrong what it comes to the names of professional sports teams...

10. Washington Wizards

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    In 1997, Washington Bullets owner Abe Pollin thought it necessary to change the name of his NBA basketball team, given the implied violence inherent in the name Bullets, which he deemed inappropriate for a city that at the time was suffering with high crime and homicide rates.

    While this name change was done with the best of intentions, I have to argue that Mr. Pollin could have settled on a better name, one that would resonate better in a city with a large African-American population.

    That is to say, don’t name your team after a bunch of dorky white guys in pointy hats casting spells or what is an official rank in the Ku Klux Klan.

9. Denver Nuggets

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    In 1974, playing as a charter member of the American Basketball Association (ABA), the Rockets of Denver, Colorado changed the name of their franchise via a fan contest in anticipation of the ABA’s merger with the NBA, who already had a team in Houston with the nickname Rockets.

    They would settle on the name Nuggets, a reference to the Rocky Mountain State’s rich gold mining history.

    While the name had been used in Denver’s first foray into the NBA in 1949, it doesn’t, in my opinion, sound any less ridiculous the second time around, my immature mind going straight to chicken nuggets, as well as other things I won’t get into.

    Seriously, how does a Denver ball player say “I’m a Nugget” and not feel like they've lost at least a touch of their dignity?

8. Nashville Predators

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    Nashville’s hockey team actually had a logo before they had a name. That seems a bit backwards to me but, you know, each to their own.

    In the fall of 1997, Nashville owner Craig Leipold revealed his new team’s logo, which the team has used to this day and which is a reference to the 1970s discovery in the midst of downtown Nashville construction of the skeleton of an extinct saber-toothed cat.

    Based on the logo, a vote was held to choose the name, fans given the choice of Ice Tigers, Fury, Attack, or Predators. The last name on the list had been Leipold’s idea and, lo and behold, it won.

    Perhaps I’ve watched Dateline NBC one too many times but the name, in my opinion, sounds just a tad creepy.

    How about a name more fitting the city of Nashville? I hear they’re quite fond of country music there and, as we all know, hockey and country music go together better than peanut butter and jelly.

    Just ask Carrie Underwood.

7. Los Angeles Lakers

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    In 1959, the Minneapolis Lakers of the National Basketball Association moved to the City of Angels, Los Angeles, California, having spent 12 years in Minnesota, the “Land of Ten Thousand Lakes”.

    There are few lakes in the Los Angeles region, save for that big salty one, yet the franchise decided to keep the name Lakers, and though the team would go on to achieve nearly unparalleled success, the name still makes about as much sense as a David Lynch movie.

    I myself would suggest a tribute to L.A.’s most well known body of water outside of the Pacific Ocean, the Los Angeles River.

    Ladies and gentlemen, meet your Los Angeles Big Ugly Concrete Ditches.

6. Anaheim Ducks

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    To the left, you will see Ducks in a row. Indeed, ducks float, while this name doesn’t.

    Yes, it’s better than the team’s previous incarnation, The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, a name based on a series of children’s movies from then-team owners Disney, tantamount to a Major League Baseball team going by the name of the Bad News Bears, but the new name still feels wildly out of place in a sport and a league that is based on grit and toughness.

    What creature in the animal kingdom is tougher than a duck?

    Uh, pretty much all of them.

5. Utah Jazz

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    Like the Los Angeles Lakers, this is simply a case of a franchise moving to a different city and not changing their name, even if those two names, the name of the franchise and the name of their new hometown, go together worse than pickles and ice cream.

    The Jazz were founded in New Orleans in 1974 but played only five seasons in the Crescent City before hightailing it to the desert and Salt Lake City, Utah, where apparently the Jazz brass (that was a pun, I think) were too lazy to think of a new name for the team.

    Meaning we’re left with a name that evokes dimly lit smoky clubs where the alcohol flows freely and there’s always a tinge of sexuality in the air, and a city that revolves around a religion that makes the family from Leave it to Beaver look like a bunch of degenerates.

4. Chicago Sky

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    If you’re looking for a league where the team names are blander than a plate of rice cakes, you need to look no further than the WNBA, which features such winning and weirdly solar-centric names as the Connecticut Sun and Phoenix Mercury.

    The blandest of the bland though would have to be the Chicago Sky, who are a recent addition to the WNBA, their name and logo apparently trying so hard to not offend in any way that it contains about as much excitement as an afternoon of watching grass grow or paint dry.

    When the name and logo were revealed at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium in the Fall of 2005, Team President and CEO Margaret Stender remarked that the team’s colors of yellow and blue were to represent “A beautiful day in Chicago between the blue sky and bright sunlight to highlight the spectacular skyline.”


3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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    It’s certainly not Angels that makes this team name more of a clunker than an old Ford Pinto but rather the litany of words surrounding it.

    All together, a name that consists of five words, three more than the majority of most teams.

    Part of me thinks more names in sports should be like the Angels. For instance, the Phoenix Coyotes of Glendale, the Detroit Pistons of Auburn Hills, or the New York Giants of New Jersey.

    Here’s the funny thing, when the Angels were founded in 1961, they were known simply as the Los Angeles Angels but, then again, they actually played in the city of L.A.

    When owner Gene Autry moved the team to Anaheim in 1966, he changed their name to the California Angels, which they would go by for the next 31 years, until 1997, when the team was bought by the Disney Corp. and major renovations were undertaken on the Angels’ home ballpark.

    Per the city of Anaheim donating thirty million dollars towards the stadium renovation and renegotiating the Angels lease, the team promised to include “Anaheim” in both the team’s name and the name of the ballpark.

    The team was thus known as the Anaheim Angels until 2005, when new owner Arte Moreno wished to better tap into the L.A. market by including Los Angeles in the team’s name.

    The only problem though was that he was still bound by the Angels’ 1997 agreement with the city of Anaheim, leading to the monstrosity that is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

    The city cried foul, going as far as to take Moreno to court, but the name was eventually held up.

    But here in the Court of Crappy Names, it’s a definite guilty verdict.

2. New York Red Bulls

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    A member of Major League Soccer since its founding in 1993, the New York Red Bulls were originally known as the New York/New Jersey MetroStars and then simply as the MetroStars.

    They were sold to Austrian beverage company, Red Bull GmbH, and the team’s name was changed in the most shameless bit of advertising since they made Fred Astaire dance with that vacuum cleaner.

    Really, in the end, it’s a matter of respect. You play in world soccer’s D league, you tend not to get much. You run around as a billboard for some crappy energy drink, you get even less.

    Coming next season to the MLS…the St. Louis Budweisers.

1. Washington Redskins

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    Even the most politically incorrect person has to admit that there’s something just a bit off about the name of this team.

    While studies have shown that at least ¾ of American Indians don’t object to the name of Washington D.C.’s pro football team, I have to believe that a little bit of racial sensitivity is due from a franchise that only integrated its ranks after having been threatened by the federal government to be kicked out of their stadium, which was owned by the U.S. Department of Interior.

    A clue that some might find the name of your team just a tad offensive?

    They take you court and don‘t let you leave for 17 years.