When pondering the whole Sonics/Oklahoma City debacle, one is hard-pressed to find any positive developments that have emerged as a result of that whole sordid mess. However, following weeks of tortuous cogitation, I was finally able to come up with one. The news that the City of Seattle was able to retain the rights to the Sonic name helps to further the precedent set by the City of Cleveland who prohibited Art Modell from taking the Browns’ name when he moved the team to Baltimore. This is a good thing. It sends a message to those greedy, carpet bagging owners that says “You may steal my team, but keep your filthy hands off our unique, regional identity.”
This further got me to wondering as to ways in which the league might redress those instances of team identity theft that predate the Cleveland precedent. More tortuous cogitation led me to formulate a few modest ideas that I’d like to share with you here.
Let’s start with the most egregious case of all: The Utah Jazz. Did I miss something here? When did the Mormon Tabernacle Choir start getting’ all jiggy with blue notes, modal improvisation and syncopated beats? No, this name can not - must not - stand. Accordingly, I hereby entreat league officials to mandate that Utah immediately trade the name back to its city of origin: New Orleans. Y’know, the land where jazz was born. In return, the New Orleans franchise will send the naming rights of its NBA franchise – the Hornets - to Utah, whose state nickname conveniently happens to be “The Beehive State.” Now, what could be more fitting than that?
That one was easy. Unfortunately, other instances don’t readily lend themselves to such a neatly packaged solution. But forge on we must. We’ll now consider the case of the Bedge’s most collectively detested team. Other than the Utah Jazz, is their any more inappropriately named NBA franchise than the L.A. Lakers? I mean, c’mon, L.A. scarcely has a drop of freshwater that it doesn’t steal from either Northern California or the Colorado River. Lakes? What lakes? Other than Veronica, this town has never had one of their own that I can think of.
Unfortunately, returning the name to its place of origin in Minneapolis may not prove so simple. Yeah, Minnesota’s got lakes. I’ve seen the license plate; they got like 100,000 – or is it 1,000 - or maybe it’s 10,000… hell, I can never remember. Anyway, they got lots of ‘em. So many that they probably don’t need one more. Especially not one that’s been polluted by all those years in L.A. I’m guessing the people of Minnesota will opt to pass and stick with their Timberwolves – more Lake Woebegone than Lake Show - but hey, at least they won’t be assuming responsibility for a Superfund site that’s been thoroughly contaminated with Kobalt Selfate. For the scientifically challenged, that’s a known carcinogen.
OK, we’ve determined that the Laker moniker shouldn’t remain in L.A. and it can’t go back to Minny, so where do we send it? How about to Milwaukee, a city which rests on the shores of one of America’s most polluted lakes already! And in exchange, the good people of Wisconsin can reciprocate by shipping the Bucks name to a city where the ostentatious display of wealth is regarded as one of the paramount virtues. It would also be an apt name for a franchise who’s never been averse to spending its way to success.
Finally, there is one more situation that is just crying to be addressed. This one concerns the team that once played its home games in Vancouver. No, not the place that Portlanders go to avoid paying Oregon taxes, but the one up in Canada. I’ve heard it’s pretty wild up there and there they still got savage beasts roaming around. Y’know, like the grizzly bears that their erstwhile pro hoops team was named after. But then that team moved to Tennessee where I think the most recent grizzly sighting occurred on the day that Daniel Boone shot the last one. So, yeah, the Memphis Grizzlies name? Gotta go.
I’m thinking a suitable destination would be Sacramento. Not exactly grizzly country either, but there is one on the State flag. That’s more than you’re ever gonna find in Memphis, chum. In exchange, Memphis gets to honor Elvis, perhaps their most famous native son, by renaming their hoop team with the appellation by which he was commonly known. The real problem here lies in persuading the Sactos to relinquish that Kings nickname. Given the growing acceptance of the “unitary executive” concept as well as the sitting governor’s somewhat autocratic tendencies, the California capital may be loath to part with a name that so neatly encapsulates the current zeitgeist. The league may just have to step in here and convince them that a name swap would be for the greater good. If that don’t work, David Stern can go all “unitary executive” on ‘em himself. In the end, I’m pretty sure the Governor would understand.
Well, I’ve prattled on long enough. There’s surely some Darius Miles news breaking somewhere that requires my immediate attention. But I just wanted to put these ideas out for your perusal and possible discussion. I am in the process of drafting an online petition on this matter that I will eventually be forwarding to the Commissioner’s Office. I hope that once you’ve read this, you will consider signing it.