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How Important Are Team Names?

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How do team owners and managers decide which names to carry? There are certainly some procedures involved in choosing a name. Some do not seem to make an impact or represent the team. Take a look at the long standing Lakers of L.A. Why are they called such when the city does not have a lake? The name comes from the old city where the Lakers played, Minneapolis. The state where the city belongs to, Minnesota is known to have a thousand lakes. It fits perfectly with the Minneapolis Lakers but not with Los Angeles which could have taken ‘Stars’ when they bought the team. ‘Stars’ refer to the Hollywood celebrities the city is known for. By virtue of familiarity, the team has stuck to the name for decades.

Another NBA team that has a name that does not represent the city is the Utah Jazz. The city where the Jazz play, Salt Lake City is not known for Jazz music. The same can be said of the state. Upon closer research, the original team was located in New Orleans where Jazz was the music of choice. It made sense because for centuries, Orleans has been known to have the best Jazz musicians in the country. Since the team transferred to Utah, the name does not make any sense.

In the case of these two teams, the owners thought against changing their names since NBA fans are already familiar with these even though it does not represent the city or state the teams play at.

There is a lot of sensitivity regarding naming teams after various Indian tribes. Most say it is insensitive and not right to use their tribe name. On the other hand, some people think that it is just right to give honor to these tribes. The first group says that these teams should change their names because of the disrespect they give to the tribes. On the other hand, some say that these teams should just stick to it since people are already familiar with the identity on their basketball uniforms. Besides, there seems to be no malice in using them for decades now.

The best example would be the University of Utah whose teams have gone with the name Utes and still plan to do so but with just a little debate from those who want it taken off. Utes are a tribe located in Ouray and Uintah reservation. This name represents the state in contrast to Jazz. The school and the tribe signed a deal that allows the use of the name.