rise wrote:The Pelican is the state bird of Lousiana. I've lived in Charlotte for almost 17 years now. There aren't many bobcats near Charlotte.
Granted, though the point still stands that they are at least named after a real animal, albeit one that allowed the original owner to slip his name in there.
That article makes a fair point about pelicans and given their connection with Louisiana, it's certainly not inappropriate. Still, my first impressions is that it just doesn't strike me as a great name for an NBA team. The same does go for the Bobcats and Thunder, though I have grown used to those monikers. With that in mind I think we'll all probably get used to it. It's kind of hard to put a finger on what makes a name appropriate for an NBA team or not. I guess it comes down to ties to the city/state, mental image and "coolness"; a name that sounds good or impressive to say. However, it's hard to say why some names seem more appropriate for one particular sport and not another.
Taking a look at the other names around the league, I think that's something the animal based names strive for. Bulls, Grizzlies, Timberwolves, Bucks, Hornets, Bobcats, Hawks, Raptors...the first four are large animals, easily associated with power and/or ferocity. The Hornets name sounds cool, was appropriate to the Charlotte area and implies danger; a dangerous foe. Bobcats aren't exactly the most imposing member of the cat family, but it's still a predatory animal. Hawks are also predatory, have a pretty cool image and it's kind of a classic name for a sports team as far as bird-inspired nicknames are concerned, up there with "falcon" and "eagle". "Raptors" fits a ferocious image, or at least the one that's perpetuated by popular culture. It's probably safe to say it was a little more fashionable when dinosaurs were more in vogue in the 90s.
Warriors is another classic sort of name, evoking images of battle, power and conquest. Spurs and Mavericks are good western-themed nicknames that fit a common image of Texas. The Rockets' name fits Houston because of NASA's presence there, while also referring to something big and powerful. The Kings: royalty, dominance, ruling...it doesn't exactly describe the team's success, historically speaking, but it's a good image and another classic name for a sports team. "Nets" may be a little cliche, but it's certainly appropriate to basketball, probably the most marketable name if you're going to name a team after equipment of the sport. "Jazz" doesn't exactly fit Utah, but as mentioned before it's well-established at this point, with an obvious cool image. "Pistons" suits Detroit's image as the Motor City and can be associated with powerful engines.
The Knicks/Knickerbockers, Trail Blazers and 76ers names all have historical significance. The Celtics acknowledges Boston's Irish-American heritage and the nickname had already been established for basketball by the Original Celtics, the barnstorming team from New York. Nuggets and Cavaliers aren't necessarily great fits or the best names, but they've been around long enough to establish themselves as viable team names. The Pacers, Suns and Heat are appropriate names with connections to their respective cities, culturally or otherwise. Magic and Wizards are perhaps a little out there, but there's a whimsical nature to them and "Magic" fits with Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
"Thunder" gets a bad rap, which is fair enough for the most part as it's not the best name in the league, but naming teams after meteorological phenomena isn't unprecedented (names like Tornadoes and Hurricanes are usually more popular though). The booming sound of Thunder at least tries to convey a cool/powerful image and sort of ties in with their history as the Seattle Supersonics (the sonic booms of the supersonic jets the team once took its name from), in a loose and subtle manner.
Finally, the Lakers and Clippers names probably aren't that great when you think about it. "Lakers" actually sounds quite antiquated (and fair enough, seeing as the team was founded in the 40s) and hasn't suited their host city since they left Minneapolis. However, they've been around for so long and been so successful, you don't really think about it. I also think the meaning/reference behind the Clippers name has become somewhat obscure over the years, but it too has been around long enough that it's just kind of accepted.