Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The NBA fails its fans...again.

Because I have to study for my Navy E-6 advancement exam I'll be taking early tomorrow morning, I am forcing myself to stay away from baseball cards tonight. Instead, I'll speak about the new NBA franchise...well, the old Seattle franchise/new Oklahoma City franchise.

For weeks we basketball fans have been anxiously awaiting the unveiling of the "mascot" name for the franchise that has recently moved to OK City. Speculators have figured out that it would most likely have something to do with the geographic area/history of the Oklahoma people, and the "heartland" region. The Oklahoma University "Sooners" have quite possibly a monopoly on regional history having anything to do with a mascot name...but other names, such as "Bison", "Wind", "Energy" have surfaced as front runners. Nobody had any idea how horribly the NBA would screw this one up, however.

Let's revisit the most recently named NBA franchise. When the Hornets moved to New Orleans, Charlotte was told they'd have a new franchise in a few years. The aptly-named "Bobcats" took over for the fine people of North Carolina. After all, there are a ton of bobcats in North Carolina. They walk the city streets much like the moose from "Northern Exposure". They are everywhere.

Now, return to today and the franchise that the NBA moved to Oklahoma City...which is a basketball hotbed, by the way. I don't know how I can possibly build this up anymore for disappointment, so I'll just say it. The new NBA team is the Oklahoma City...Thunder.

The Thunder?

Sure, we're all fans of "weather" nicknames. The WNBA team "Seattle Storm" has a rabid fanbase - well, not really. Their average home game attendance this past season was 8,099 fans (47% capacity). Before Shaq arrived in Miami, the Heat saw attendance below 75% capacity. I'll give you reference point: the smallest media market in Major League Baseball, Milwaukee, boasts a home attendance average of 38,006...91% capacity. 91%!! And the Brewers have never won a World Series in franchise history...nor have they even made the playoffs since 1982.

Good for the NBA to choose a nickname that will entice fans, gather them in huge numbers, and allow them to cheer on their team to victory. After all, I'm deathly afraid of Thunder! I mean, the entire significance of a team's nickname is to intimidate the other team. That is why we chose many Indian-themed names to be team mascots. Ferocity. Animals are a very popular theme to instill fear...Badgers. Wolverines. The Banana Slugs of UC-Santa Cruz.


Not only is it a weak name for professional sports team, but it follows in the vein the popular team trivia question for "Name all of the professional sports teams whose nickname does not end in the letter 'S'". I myself am a hockey fan, and my team is the Minnesota Wild. Have you seen our logo? What is that? It's an animal, I'm sure, but what kind of animal? This also opens the door for gramarical issues. How do we speak about the Wild? Is "Wild" singular or plural? "It's the royal 'we', man..." Know what I mean? DOES the Wild win, or DO the Wild win?


Let's talk about the logo for a second...ooooh, I'm afraid! So intimidating!What is it? I see a basketball, clearly...well, about 30% of one side of a basketball. I also see "OKC", which clearly stands for Oklahoma City. And it's got two lines going behind the "logo", clearly indicating the visible "Thunder" that one witnesses when caught in a THUNDERstorm.

Wait a second...we can't see thunder! We see the lightning, though! But that name was already taken (Thanks, Tampa Bay).

Why choose a nickname for a team that cannot be represented in visual form? Clearly, the NBA wants this franchise to fail much like they plan on the Charlotte Bobcats (oooh, scary) failing so they can move these franchises to the next trendy sports market that pops up in the future...or China! After all, NBA commissioner David Stern was over in Beijing for the olympic games, and he said that China is part of the "future of the NBA". In fact, 2 games are going to be played there early October between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Golden State Warriors...two teams who now have absolutely ZERO players hailing from China. I can see the appeal. At least make the LA Lakers one of the teams (Kobe Byrant is the most popular NBA player in China) or Yao Ming (China's most famous basketball player).

So, what's the mascot going to look like? I admit, the "Philly Phanatic" clearly looks like absolutely nothing. What is a Philly, anyways? A female race horse, I thought. Must be wrong. A Philly is clearly a green monster with a huge nose and huge belly dressed in a baseball jersey.

May I recommend a few things, Mr. Stern? How about a big raincloud! Thunder comes from clouds! Or perhaps a lightning bold (shoot, already taken by Tampa Bay of the NHL). about, rain! A bucket of rain water would do! It could walk around posing for photos with little kids, and it could dunk basketballs during the halftime show.

Give me a break.

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