Sports Team Names

Whether you are a fan of sports, or just marketing, the story behind pro sports teams’ names is often interesting. The recent trend of naming teams after a singular concept baffles me a little, e.g. Oklahoma City Thunder or Tampa Bay Lightning (imagine if those two teams won their respective championships simultaneously: the NBA and NHL Champions would be Thunder & Lightning), because I don’t particularly like it for a team, albeit it opens up scores of original options.

For my tastes, the three things I appreciate most in a team’s name are individuality, intimidation, and indigenous. For example, many teams are named after their residents (e.g. New York Yankees or Montreal Canadiens) but I have never found those names to embody intimidation. Both the Yankees and Canadiens have a legacy and a fanbase that may be intimidating to many, but the team name alone does not cut it.

By individuality, I mean that the team name is not shared with other teams. If you are a huge fan of the Cardinals, we may think of the Arizona Cardinals on the grid iron or the St. Louis Cardinals on the diamond. Conversely, if you are a huge fan of the Crimson Tide, then you must be cheering Alabama (unless you surf on the Red Sea).

Of the “Big Four” sports leagues (i.e. NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB), the following teams are my favorites in each, based strictly on their names:

NFL: Hard choice, because there are not many options. Oakland Raiders get my pick as I feel they do embody the intimidation and individuality that I would be seeking.

NHL: New Jersey Devils get the nod here because, although devils are largely fictional (at least in terms of popular imagery), it provides more intimidation than most NHL teams (except maybe Nashville, which was just too creepy to pick) and it is indigenous via local lore.

NBA: More slim pickings, but I would give it to Minnesota Timberwolves on the basis that it is inclusive of all the traits that I am looking. While I like Oklahoma City Thunder a lot (and Seattle Super Sonics would have been a front runner if it weren’t for OKC Thunder), as a team name Timberwolves check most of the boxes. Some others may favor shorter names (one or two syllables, in which case their disagreement is perfectly valid).

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks easily takes it, and in fact, it is my favorite team name in all sports leagues! Call me ophidiophobic, but I find snakes very unsettling. Add to that, rattlesnakes are deadly venomous, and the intimidation factor is strong. They are indigenous to Arizona’s desert regions, and no other major league sports team has the name. Furthermore, the game of baseball itself is played on a diamond, and Arizona has the best possible name for its baseball team.

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