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The History of Your Favorite Sport Team's Name: NBA Western Conference

Updated on September 30, 2017

West Siiiiiiiide!

Yes I'm back. My previous article went through the history of NBA team names, with the focus being on the Eastern Conference. This time we are going to the West.


Dallas Mavericks

This is another name the team contest, this time sponsored by a Dallas radio station. The team owner at the time, Donald Carter, settled on Mavericks over wranglers and Express. Carla Springer, one of the winners of the contest, said the nickname "represented the independent, flamboyant style of Dallas people". Hey I guess having a team named after a Tom Cruise character in a movie (Top Gun), is better than having a team named after some tight blue jeans.


Houston Rockets

San Diego we have a problem?

The Rockets called San Diego home and the name was chosen via a name the team contest (again). The name referred to the city's theme of "A city in Motion" as well as the fact that rockets were being built in San Diego at the time. The interesting thing is when the team moved to Houston the name made even more sense because of, duh the NASA space center. This was meant to be I guess.


Memphis Grizzles

Off the top of the head I don't get this one. I am guessing that there are a lot of grizzly bears in Memphis. Lets get to the bottom of this.

When Vancouver....Oh yeaaaaaa. I forgot, they used to be the Vancouver Grizzlies. Wow that seems like a long time ago. I probably wouldn't have remembered anyway. All I paid attention to back then was My Knicks and the Bulls. Anyway, this one is interesting.

Team owners wanted to name the team the Mounties (horrible), but thankfully The Royal Canadian Police force (those funny looking cops on the horses) put that idea to rest. So blah blah blah another name the team contest and they pick the name Grizzlies. I guess Grizzly bears have houses out there and they wanted there own team. Here's where it gets interesting...

The team relocates to Memphis (where there are no Grizzly bears as far as I know) and FedEx offers the team $120 million to change the name to the "Express", but the NBA rejected the proposal. Ahahahaahahaha. The Express? The Memphis Express. Wait lemme let that sink in for a sec. Yea that's horrible. Sound like an old train from a western movie. I'm getting images of the two 7 ft. tall men in black trench coats and cowboy boots staring each other down at high noon. One of them says, "this town ain't big enough for the two of us". Now I'm kind of wishing they let the name change go through I could do something with that name. Either way I think they need to change the current one. The name wasn't meant for Memphis. How about the "Memphis Blues"? Yea I like that. I like that a lot.


New Orleans Hornets

Not this time. No memory lapses here. I remember when this team was the Charlotte Hornets. When they had Grand Ma Ma and Alonzo Mourning on the same team. This was an exciting team back then.

Interesting one here;

  1. The team spent some time in OKC.
  2. The original name was the Spirit, but fans voiced there displeasure because there was a Charlotte based Christian television program that was being accused of fraudulent activities. So Spirit wasn't flying well with them.

So what do we do when the name we came up with is not a hit? Hmmm. I don't know what can we.....hey I've got it!!!! A name the team contest!

After all ballots were cast Hornets won by a huge margin. Prospective names included, Knights, Cougars (another cat), Crowns, and Stars. No dogs again. George Shinn, owner at the time said that the nickname had a historical significance; "during the Revolutionary War, a British commander reportedly referred to the area around Charlotte as a nest of hornets.


San Antonio Spurs

In 1973 a a group of investors bought the Dallas Charparrals from the ABA. They renamed the team the San Antonio Gunslingers. Really. But unfortunately for us they renamed the team the Spurs before the team played its first game. Once of the main investors, Red McCombs, was born in Spur, Texas. Hmmm.


Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets ABA team was named the Rockets, but of course when they moved to the NBA that name had already been taken by Houston. One name the team contest later and they come up with the Denver Nuggets. Of course this is a hat tip to the Colorado Gold Rush during the late 1850s. People used to say, "there's cold in them there hills", to bad there's none around Carmelo Anthony's ring finger courtesy of the NBA. Sorry Melo, I just need you to bring a championship back to NY. I'm getting a little testy.



Minnesota Timberwolves

A name the team contest recipient, the Timberwolves are named after the free-roaming pack of wolves that only reside in Minnesota. Other names included Gun Flints (?) and Blizzard almost won. The Minnesota blizzard. Nah. Okay for High School or college, but not the NBA.


Portland Trail Blazers

I never liked this team, but damn the name is cool, especially for a basketball team. After a name the team contest Pioneers was the most popular, but a local college was already usuing it. Trail Blazers won out after that. interesting fact; "the logo is supposed to represent five players on one team playing against five players from another team. Look at the logo.....see it? Cool huh? Now look at the FedEx logo and tell me if you see the arrow. Thank you, thank you. For my next trick I will be trying to keep you reading to the end of this article.


Oklahoma City Thunder

I don't know why, but I kind of like this name. This team used to be the Seattle Supersonics. Remember Shawn Kemp? He was the man back then. No big deal here. Fans overwhelmingly choose Thunder over 63 other possibilities which included, Twisters, Renegades, and Barons. I guess thunder is just cool.


Utah Jazz

What the hell does Utah have to do with Jazz? Nothing other than a name.

The name made sense when the team was in New Orleans, the home of jazz. When the team relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah, the club officials decided to keep the name. Why? I have no idea. This name was picked in a contest as with most of the names. Here are some of the runners up: Dukes, Crescents, Pilots, Canjuns, Blues, Deltas, and Knights. I like the name "Pilots" but Cajuns doesn't work for me. How about you? Do you like any of the runner up's?


Golden State Warriors

The Warriors originated in Philadelphia and relocated to Oakland after the 1961-1962 season. The name came from the Philadelphia Warriors of the American basketball League of 1926.


Los Angeles Clippers

I like the name Los Angeles even though I am a New Yorker for life. I just like the fact that it's in America, but the name is Spanish and it's easy to understand. Basically it means the angels. Cool.

This team originated in Buffalo where the team name was the Braves. In 1978 the franchise moved to San Diego and they settled on a new name, Clippers. A clipper is a popular type of ship from the 19th century.


Los Angeles Lakers

The Golden boys of the NBA. Who can forget the "Lake Show". Hollywood can still be seen on the sidelines with court seats up to this day. And the team is trying to make sure that they hold on to that glow they have possessed for so many years.

Now you may be thinking to yourself; there aren't really many lakes in L.A. You are right. The name Lakers was given to the team after it jumped from Detroit to Mineapolis, The Land of 10,00 Lakes. When the Lakers came to Los Angeles in 1960 the owners decided to keep the name.


Phoenix Suns


It is hot as hell in Phoenix. Nuff said right?

The team name makes obvious sense so lets go to something else, like the fact that the first general Manager, Jerry Colangelo, was only 28 when he got the job. Other names included: Scorpions, Rattlers, Cactus Giants, Sun Lovers, and Dudes. Yes I said Dudes. I wonder how old the owner was.



Sacramento Kings

This is a name that carried over from the Kansas City- Omaha Kings of 1957.


There you have it folks. The history of your favorite sports team name's. I will be doing NFL next I think. See ya then.

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