At 27-9, the Utah Jazz owned the league’s best record heading into the All-Star break. Will it translate to a championship run? Probably not.
Lebron and the Lakers pose a big threat within the conference, especially if AD comes back. The Phoenix Suns may even push a playoff team or two to the brink. If Utah somehow gets by them, the loaded Nets roster likely awaits in the Finals. If not, early MVP candidate, Joel Embiid may prove a tall task to complete the mission.
All those things are legit obstacles, but another reason Utah can’t be considered a serious contender is their team name. Jazz In Utah? It makes no sense. Surely, this article isn’t the first to point this out, but Utah’s professional hoops team needs a new name.
By the way, the Jazz aren’t the only NBA squad with a weak moniker. A quick scan down the NBA standings and you’ll notice that a few others need updating as well.
The Utah Jazz
Utah is known for a few things—ski resorts, national parks, religious fanaticism, and… jazz music? Utah and jazz go together like peanut butter and tuna fish. It would be like renaming the New York Knicks to the New York Nice Guys or the Los Angeles Lakers to the Los Angeles Great Commutes. How about the Minnesota Heat Waves?
The team name—of course— goes back to their origin in New Orleans, where they played from 1974-1979. New Orleans, of course, has a rich and storied history of jazz music as part of its culture. The team name was appropriate for the region.
When the team moved to Utah, however, could they not have taken an extra minute or two to change the name? Jazz music in Utah is about as clearly present as a velociraptor in Toronto. Toronto gets a pass, however, because about 65 million years ago, it’s at least possible that one stepped foot in the area.
Admittedly, finding something sexy enough or at least memorable enough for a team name in a state with such a purveying blandness is challenging. Otherwise, the University of Utah’s sports teams would be called something other than the Utes. Really? That’s the best you could come up with?! When I think of the Utes, I think of “My Cousin Vinny,” not a college sports team. “I’m sorry. The two y-o-u-th-s.”
The Memphis Grizzlies
Here’s another case of a franchise being too lazy to change the team name when they moved. Yes, when the team was in Vancouver, naming them the Grizzlies was an accurate representation of a ferocious animal that existed in the area.
Last time I checked, the Grizzly Bear had not yet ventured far enough south to become part of the ecosystem in the entire state of Tennessee, let alone the bustling metropolis of Memphis.
Memphis is famous for barbeque, music, and a lot more. Elvis lived there! There has to be something better to call their basketball team. What about the Memphis Flying Elvises? Think of the merch!
The New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans could have as many pelicans as New York City has pigeons, it still doesn’t sound right. Too many syllables, maybe? Or just too gangly and weird-looking of a bird?
Maybe the Pelicans could arrange for a draft-day trade with Utah where they get their team name back. I feel like New Orleans would owe a second-rounder as extra compensation, because the Utah Pelicans sounds almost as ridiculous as the Utah Jazz.
Theoretically, the pelican is an impressive bird. It can spot prey below the water’s surface from more than 60 feet above, perform a high-speed dive, stun their victims upon impact, and fly away with dinner. In that way, the pelican is a total badass.
Tigers are impressive; so are mountain lions; but if they were called ‘Flufsnoogles’, they wouldn’t make for good sports team names. If they can’t arrange to acquire the rights to the Jazz back from Utah, maybe they can take a page out of the Utes playbook and become the New Orleans New Orls’.
The Washington Wizards
First of all, kudos to previous team owner Abe Pollin for aligning with an anti-violence campaign of the time to change the name from Bullets to Wizards. It’s not often that a professional sports team owner gets in front of an issue like that, so high-fives all around for Abe. BUT…
Couldn’t he have come up with something better than the Wizards?
When I think of the Wizards, I expect to see a starting five of Gandalf, Dumbledore, Yoda (Yes, a jedi counts as a wizard), Harry Potter, and Glinda the Good Witch (yes, a witch is a female wizard).
I’m thinking Yoda plays the point. His diminutive size and deceptive jedi quickness make him the logical choice to facilitate and drive to the basket. Plus, the one-time superstar recruit from the mean streets of Degobah has developed sick ball-handling skills. “Posterize you, I must, hmm?”
Potter likely plays shooting guard. Based on his ability to score on the quidditch “field” at his alma matter Hogwarts, Potter is equally dangerous from anywhere on the basketball court. Similar to Dame Time, when Potter is feelin’ it, feed the beast.
I see Gandalf patrolling the rim at the center position, rejecting shots Mutombo style while taunting his rivals with, “You shall not pass!”
Glinda the Good Witch is mostly useless at small forward, except for when the team is playing a road game in a hostile environment. In that situation, her unique ability to instruct her teammates to click their heels together and transform themselves to a home game is huge. In 2004, the Pacers surely could have used Glinda during the Malice at the Palace.
Rounding out the front court at power forward is Albus Dumbledore. His experience with Harry likely forms a formidable two-man game. Watch for Harry to feed Albus with alley-oops early and often, as the old man still has crazy ups to throw it down when he wants to.
Merlin probably provides a potent sixth-man option, but it’s tough to be sure if his skills from Camelot will translate well to the pro game.
If we’re allowing evil wizards on the team, Darth Vader would be a great defender with his ability to choke opponents without actually touching them. Lord Voldemort might make this roster as well, but his hatred for teammate, Harry Potter, would likely create a rift within the team. Although, Kyrie Irving is still playing for the Nets and they haven’t self-destructed yet.
Bring Back the Supersonics!
While we’re on the topic of fairy tales, folk lore, and other things that will never happen, somebody needs to bring back the Seattle Supersonics. I don’t care that the team moved to Oklahoma City many years ago. The Supersonics was one of the greatest team names ever created in any sport.
Maybe update the colors to get away from that awful green with red and yellow, but the Seattle Supersonics need to make a comeback. If we must add another team for scheduling purposes, bring back the Sheboygan Red Skins (1949-1950). Oh, right; sorry about that. We can call them the Sheboygan Basketball Team.
David Caissie is a Freelance Professional Writer/Ghostwriter.