NBA Team Names History

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Clipper Rookie
Posts: 70
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I found this to be pretty interesting in regards to team names. I had to remove the link since I lack 95 posts. Sorry.

Team Name History

One might not know it from just a casual glance, but history has played a big part in the naming of most of the NBA franchises. Many of the NBA franchises get their names for the cities historical past, or from a city in which the team first originated in. This is especially true with the teams who entered the League after 1949, but even those teams have some history behind their names.

Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks were first called the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. Tri-Cities(Molina and Rock Island, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa) is located in the midwest, in lands which once belonged to the Kickapoo,Sauk, and Fox indians. The three tribes fought a long war against the United Stated called the Blackhawk war after their chief Blackhawk. The Teams name was shorted to just Hawks after the team moved to Milwaukee.

Boston Celtics

The name Celtics refers to Boston's Irish American population Many Irish believe they are ancestors of the ancient druid people called the Celts. The teams logo and mascot also reflect the Irish connections as it's a traditional symbol of Ireland; the Leprichan.

Charlotte Bobcats

The Bobcats is one of the few generic names in the NBA with no historical meaning to the city of Charlotte.

Chicago Bulls

On the surface the name Bulls may seem very generic, but it's not. Chicago was the hub of the meat packing industry during the late 19th and early 20h century. Texas longhorns would be taken by rail from Abilene and Dodge City to Chicago for slaughter and then distribution around the country. For a long time the city boasted the largest stockyard in the world.

Cleveland Cavaliers.

The team Cavalier refers to someone who supported the royalist during the English civil war. . The most likely derivitive for the name of the team may be a corruption of the word Chivalier, which is a French Cavalryman. One very famous Cavalryman was a George A Custer, leader of the massicred 7th cavalry at the little bighorn. Custer was born in Ohio.

Dallas Mavericks

Despite popular belief a Maverick is not a horse. The team was first given to stubborn longhorns, but then was quickly applied to those who wrangled the beasts. Texas has a long important history of cattle drives and this is where the Mavericks get their name from; The lone cowboy on the prarie.

Denver Nuggets

Before the Modern team there was an original NBA team called the Nuggets. Both teams take their name from the Colorado Gold rush of 1859.

Detroit Pistons.

Originally the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons, the teams name comes from team owner Frank Zollners piston manufacturing company. Though, by some strange twist of fate the name still greatly applies to the team as Detroit is one of the leading manufacture of automobles in the world.

Golden State Warriors.

Previously known as the San Francisco and Philadelphia Warriors the teams name is likely just a generic name. But it may have a historically connection with the Delaware Indians who inhabited the area before British Colonist displaced them.

Houston Rockets.

One of the most ironic name twist in sports history belongs to the Rockets. The Rockets were originally the San Deigo Rockets, which was just a generic name. But the team got a new twist on its name when it moved to Houston; home of NASA's Mission control.

Indiana Pacers.

Not many people know what a Pacer is, but the name is very important in the history of Indianapolis. A Pacer is the car which comes out and sets the pace during a red flag in the Indy 500.

Los Angeles Clippers.

A Clipper is a long sailing ship from the 19th century. The team got its named after it moved to San Diego from Buffalo in 1979. San Diego is a very important port city and has been for centuries. Many Clipper ships from South America docked in San Diego and other California ports during the 1849 gold rush.

Los Angeles Lakers.

To the casual fan this name makes absolutely no sense. But once you realize the team originally played in Minneapolis it starts making a lot more sense. Lakers are large ships found on the Great Lakes. Minnesota has a coast line with Lake Superior. Another variation of the name may be from Minnesota being known as the land of 10,000 lakes.

Memphis Grizzlies.

Mostly a generic left over from when the team moved from Vancouver. But the pacific northwest was a popular place for bear hunting in the past.

Miami Heat.

A generic name referring to the warm tempatures of the South Florida region.

Milwaukee Bucks.

A generic name with little historical significants

Minnesota Timberwolves.

Wolf hunting was a popular sport in the early 20th century but this name appears to be mostly generic.

New Orleans Hornets.

The team originated in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Carolinas were invaded by the British in the Revolutionary war, and during one such invasion the British stepped into a trap laid by the Americans and the British general said it was like a Hornets nest. The name Hornets won out of a contest held to name the team in 1987.

New Jersey Nets.

A generic basketball term

New York Knicks.

Not many people know what Knicks really means. Knicks is a shortening of the work Knickerbockers; which where a type of pants worn by Dutch immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Orlando Magic

The Magic got its name after the Disney world theme part located in Orlando.

Philadelphia 76ers.

Named in honor of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia.

Phoenix Suns.

A generic name referring to hot tempatures of Arizona.

Portland Trailblazers.

Portland was the end of the Oregon trail, a trial which brought millions of people into the American west. A Trailblazer was someone who opened up the route for the wagons to travel upon. This name was usually a former fur trapper who knew the area well.

Sacramento Kings

A generic term referring to a monarch, but no real American historical connections.

San Antonio Spurs.

Spurs are sharp objects worn on boots to control horses. While it doesn't have any historical connection to San Antonio and is mostly generic it does have a connection back to Texas cattle days of the 1860s, 70s and 80s.

Seattle Supersonics.

Named so because of the large Boeing aircraft plant in the area.

Toronto Raptors.

Named after the Dinosaur in the Jurassic Park movies. No historical connection at all.

Utah Jazz

The name Jazz stuck with the team when it moved from New Orleans. New Orleans is the jazz capitol of the world. Most is not all great jazz musicians begin their careers in New Orleans.

Washington Wizards.

Wizards is a generic term picked after public pressure forced the team to change its name from Bullets to Wizards. Bullets had no historical meaning either.

Clipper 6th Man
Posts: 108
Location: Stanton, CA
votes: 0

Cool post. Many of the modern names (Wizards and Raptors, to name a few) were chosen via fan contests.

Looks like New Orleans may have a new name for the 2012-13 season.....and really wish the Clippers would do the same...

Clipper Starter
Age: 36
Posts: 689
Location: In the heart of Clipper Country
votes: 3

A lot of these team nicknames came from "name the team" contests.

The Bullets nickname dates back to the team's days in Baltimore (1963-73), and they kept the name when they moved to a new arena roughly halfway between Washington and Baltimore (nearly 40 miles apart) in '73. There was also a Baltimore Bullets franchise in the NBA's earliest years (1946-54); the name came from from an athletic shoe brand called "Bata Bullets"--that piece of info came from Wikipedia, so take for what it's worth. The pressure to change the name of present-day Bullets/Wizards came more from its late owner Abe Pollin than public pressure. From what I read elsewhere, Wizards fans (how many are there left) want the team name changed back to the Bullets, but with there was at least a happy compromise with the new uniforms and colors.

The Hornets' new ownership does indeed want to change the a perfect world, there should be a three-way swap between the Hornets, Jazz, and Bobcats (whose nickname actually derived from its original owner, Robert Johnson). Charlotte Hornets, New Orleans Jazz, and Utah Bobcats (or whatever else they want to use). It'll never happen because the Jazz name has been so firmly entrenched in Utah (33 years and counting), it's going to take an offer that the Miller family can't refuse.

Clipper Rookie
Posts: 70
votes: 0

Diagoro: I thought it was pretty interesting myself. It's one reason why I decided to post it.

MrHill: that is some fantastic info you gave about the Bullets/ Wizards. I live here in the Maryland area and have never heard anybody say that. Of course no one claims to be a Wizard fan out this way. The redskins can be 0-16 and they still have diehard fans but no one ever mentions they're a wizard fan, lol.

Clipper 6th Man
Posts: 108
Location: Stanton, CA
votes: 0

Or a Senator's fan? DC has some unfortunate sporting legacy, aside from the Redskins and DC United.

Posts: 7377
Location: Laughing at irrational Laker morons
votes: 22

Notice how expansion teams in the 90s in sports (not just basketball) are named after animals, with a few exceptions.

Clipper Rookie
Posts: 70
votes: 0

Lol, yeah, you're right but that's probably because they're not out here anymore Didn't they become the Texas Rangers?. The Capitals get love though.

Clipper 6th Man
Posts: 108
Location: Stanton, CA
votes: 0

I should have said 'Senators/Nations'. I believe the Senators played in DC one and off. The only thing consistent was their futility.

Clipper All-Star
Posts: 2344
votes: 7

Washingtons owner is tempted to move the teams name back to the Bullets which I think would be RIGHT. They already have the old uniforms basically. Bullets don't refer to any sort of violence, gang-terms etc it referred to something else entirely.

I bet 75% of NFL fans don't know why the Cleveland Browns are named the Browns, and it's not because they have african-american athletes on their team. Team was named after their first owner. Packers were named after the Indian Packing Co. which supplied the team uniforms way back when.

Clipper 6th Man
Posts: 108
Location: Stanton, CA
votes: 0

Would be a heck of a lot better than 'Wizards'!!! Geez, the day that name was chosen, would have been a dark day as a fan.

Clipper Rookie
Posts: 52
votes: 0

Clipper Ships all day!

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