So as I’ve mentioned before I’m big into sports nicknames and branding. I love when the identity of the team, the identity of the fans and the region, and the nicknames and uniform all come together in one big happy amalgamation of marketing love. That’s why I love the St. Louis Blues so much.
St. Louis may lose out to Memphis on the oldest appearance of the “blues” as a music genre on the American cultural scene, but the piano based blues of St. Louis, Missouri has its own vaunted place in music. Moreover, “blue” accurately describes the collective emotions of their fanbase and players over the teams 5 decades of existence, as they have repeatedly been denied postseason success (all the more painful this year after being upset by hated rival Chicago) and have never won Lord Stanley’s Cup. Plus, music based nicknames are just really cool. And I love that thing they all do with the music note in the logo. ANYWAY.
Let’s bring this back to the NBA. Relocation of teams sucks, but it happens. Fanbases give up on teams, scumbag owners steal teams, whatever. However, I think that whenever you steal a team, you shouldn’t be allowed to steal their name and their history too. I constantly root against the Thunder because those criminal owners stole that team from Seattle. I understand relocation as a sometimes necessary evil. If fans aren’t supporting a team, and another fanbase would, then fine… move them… However, in Seattle the fans DID support their team. Howard Schultz, Clay Bennett, and David Stern conspired to rip off the city of Seattle over a bullshit public funding hangup with a proposed new arena and shipped the Sonics to Oklahoma City. Now, at least they had the decency to change the team name, but whats more disgusting is that they stole the Sonics history as well. The Thunder claim to have won the 1979 NBA championship. Which is curious because they didn’t exist until 2008.So theres a couple problems with this. The first is that I personally believe once a pro sports franchise has won a title in its current city it should never be allowed to leave. If a team is able to reach the pinnacle of its league, they stay put. This is why I had to give up my dreams of moving the Tampa Bay Lighting to Quebec City to bring hockey back to Quebec. The 2004 Stanley Cup makes the Lightning a permanent fixture in the NHL. So ok… OKC broke a golden rule of franchise movement… but then to steal the team’s history as well??? Come on… If you’re going to steal a team you should start from scratch.
The books should be wiped clean. As it stands now, even if Seattle managed to get a new team (something the other 29 owners refuse to do. Chris Hansen has offered double for both the Kings and the Bucks when they recently went up for sale AND offered to pay the league a relocation fee, but was turned down both times in favor of owners who would keep the teams where they were) they would not be free to name the team the Sonics (the scumbag Clay Bennett and his Thunder still own the rights to the name and any Sonics branding and merchandise) and they would not even be allowed to hang a banner for the 1979 title that that city won (because dontcha know… the THUNDER not the SONICS won that title).
In short it is absolutely despicable for teams to steal names and history from another city in addition to stealing their team. Its also terrible when guys like Vincent Tan come out of the blue and buy a 120 year old football club and unilaterally decide to change the team colors from blue to red which have been the same for those 120 years (and promptly drive the team into the ground as well).
Anyway, to return to the Seattle point I can’t be totally mad when Hansen gets blocked by other fanbases trying to save their teams. I like the idea of the NBA allowing Vivek Ranadive but the Kings instead of moving them to Seattle. Ranadive doesn’t care if he’s at a permanent economic disadvantage because as the NBA’s first Indian owner he things his real market will be back home in India, the same way Yao Ming made China Rockets fans. I for one am skeptical as a big reason basketball took off in China was their general orientation toward America (vs. an orientation toward England and the Commonwealth nations in general for India) and the presence of a legitimate superstar Chinese national (Yao) in the NBA. If Vivek can create enough interest now to get Indian kids to start picking up basketballs instead of cricket bats and push for an Indian NBA player in the next 10 years, then I think he’ll really have something, but for now I’m skeptical. The other owners don’t care if his franchise succeeds, however, because they’re just desperate for another massive marketplace to peddle their goods like they now have in China. Globalization in sports is huge now.
ALSO I’m not mad that the Bucks stayed in Milwaukee cuz, again, they’ve won a title in Milwaukee and I think that earns them to right to keep their team. They’re building a new arena so the Seattle excuse can’t be used against them. And Wisconsin is secretly a state that loves basketball. Marquette University and Wisconsin play top level college basketball, and the Bucks are honestly a fixture in the state.
So Seattle will need to wait for their team. But thats not the real issue here. To turn back the clock to 5 sidetracks ago, lets talk about New Orleans Basketball. The Jazz was one of the best fitting nicknames in sports. It was so perfect. And then the Mardi Gras colors on the logos and jerseys? It was a beautiful site to behold. Look at it!
Just perfect. However, things began to go south after the teams first 5 seasons in existence. New Orleans is honestly too small for 2 professional sports team, and if forced to choose, 80% of New Orleans residents would pick the Saints (another perfect nickname by the way) over the Jazz/Hornets/Pelicans/FightingAnthonyDavises.
So long story short it didn’t work out and the team moved to Utah. HOWEVER a cardinal sin was committed! Utah kept the name Jazz! Now, the nickname is still awesome. I still love the jerseys. But this is a terrible match! Jazz has nothing to do with Mormon Mountain Country! Over time the issue has become somewhat complicated I suppose by the fact that the Malone – Stockton – Sloan Jazz had some real success and now the name has become attached to Salt Lake City for a lot of guys 40 and under. But they haven’t hit that golden threshold of winning a title yet so I think changing the name is still fair game.I’d much rather root for Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Jazz than the freaking horrorshow pelicans…
However, I think there is one excellent solution to this whole issue. Jabari Parker.
As a Kentucky basketball fan I pay way too much attention to basketball recruiting. As such I’ve been following Jabari since his days dominating Chicago high school basketball at Simeon High. This guy is a stud and even though he chose Duke over Kentucky, I still enjoy following him. I wasn’t the only one though. The entire state of Utah, including the Jazz front office, has been following this kid. Why? Because Jabari Parker is a Mormon. Moreover, he, along with Julius Randle and Andrew Wiggins, was in the top three battle to be the #1 overall selection in this years draft from the preseason onward. Moreover, I think its no coincidence that this year of all years is the season Utah chose to tank. Utah has been a contender for the playoffs or [more often than not] a playoff team. I think its no surprise then that they chose to blow up their team (letting both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap go this offseason for nothing) tank, and rebuild this season of all seasons. They’re in this for Jabari, and they’re almost there.
So … heres what I propose we do… to the rest of the NBA I would like to say… don’t you dare draft Jabari Parker… and to Utah once we give you Jabari Parker you better freaking do the right thing and become the Utah Mormons, the Utes, the Mountains, the Rockies, or whatever the heck you want you’ll have a superstar in the making to build around and one who matches your city and state better than any other …but whatever you do, just give New Orleans back their name, and let’s set at least one Franchise history wrong, right.