Rooktopia rates the NBA Team Names — Western Conference

So who in the NBA has the best team names? Rooktopia has already commented on the L’Eastern Conference, but how about the Wild Wild Western Conference, where even the high-powered Houston Rockets (who would easily be fourth seed in the East) are struggling to make playoffs?

Portland Trailblazers — What is up with that weird logo? It looks like something for United Way, doesn’t it? Fortunately, we’re only looking at team names. The Trailblazers usually shorten their name to “Blazers,” which made them very easy to make fun of when their entire roster was filled with drug addicts. I guess it would work, too, if they were all preppies. Still, the whole pioneer theme, which I think the “Trailblazers” name alludes to, never factors in team promo materials, so I’m going to have to rate this low. Demerits, too, for sharing a name with a gas-guzzling SUV. Rating: 2/5

Sacramento Kings — Regal, opulent, vaguely Austrian — that’s pretty much Sacramento in a nutshell, isn’t it? The US may have thrown off the shackles of the monarchy in the Revolution, but it lives on in Sacramento … even if most of us associate the city as “a nice place to fill up for gas while driving down I-5 to SoCal.” Rating: 4/5

Golden State Warriors — OK … Golden State? I absolutely hate it when San Franciscans get so territorial that they get heart attacks if a team located outside of its city limits even DARES to use its city name! And, thus, the San Francisco Warriors had to change to “Golden State” after moving to Oakland. Never mind that no one in their right mind calls the Bay Area “Golden State.” It sounds like a college, doesn’t it? “Dude, I went to Golden State and majored on being a total douchebag.” “Warriors,” you can take it or leave it, but the whole “Golden State” debacle just leaves an acidy taste in my mouth. Rating: 2/5

Seattle Supersonics — Here’s a conundrum. When refered to by its full name, “Supersonics” gets unwieldy. The shorter name, “Sonics,” gets much more play and frankly is a better name, but by dropping the first part you’re admitting that the team isn’t “Super.” I guess this is all for Oklahoma City to sort out … because you STOLE OUR TEAM, you STEALING STEALERS! *spit* Rating: 3/5

Minnesota Timberwolves — I frankly like this better if they were just the “Wolves.” There’s nothing wrong with the name. Timberwolf sounds more threatening than your garden-variety species of wolf. Checking out Wikipedia, though, the timberwolf actually looks more like a husky than the snarling werewolf you see on T-Wolves paraphenalia. I was expecting something more Hound of the Baskervilles, you know? Rating: 3/5

Los Angeles Lakers — I love how the Lakers managed to transcend the meaning of the name. When you think about the word “laker,” do you think of a glitzy basketball team with the high aesthetic cheerleader squad … or do you think of something that lives in a lake, like the dictionary defines? Ever since the Lakers moved out of Minnesota (where the name was highly appropriate, Land of 1000 Lakes and all) and moved to LA, they molded the name into their own image. Where else can the regal purple-and-gold seem highly appropriate for an aquatic team name? Rating: 5/5

Utah Jazz — On the other hand, there’s the team that never transcended its name: Utah Jazz. So let’s skip the whole discussion how there’s no jazz in Utah, blah blah blah … because ESPN anchors mention it, like, every year. What team name should they use? How about the best known genre of music in Salt Lake City? I’m speaking, of course, of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Image in the awesomeness of the Utah Tabernacle Choirs. Or better yet, the Salt Lake City Choirboys. Tell me that you wouldn’t want to see this. Rating: 2/5

Los Angeles Clippers — Talk about a team name that has become synonymous with failure. And why “Clippers”? A harmless sailing vessel you imagine piloted by rich investors clad in Nautica windbreakers? P’shaw. For a truly mighty name, they should switch to Battleships or Aircraft Carriers. And then move to San Diego, because, other than the cheapness of the owner, there’s no reason for them to be in LA. The San Diego Battleships. Nice ring to it, huh? Rating: 2/5

Phoenix Suns — Along with the Miami Heat, the Phoenix Suns are part of the naming convention that try to remind you that it is unpleasantly hot down south. In fact, every Phoenix team save the Cardinals seem to want to remind you that it is arid and dry in the desert. While it doens’t make me want to book a vacation down there, I do like the commitment to the theme. Rating: 4/5

Denver Nuggets — Out of the ABA teams (Spurs, Nets, Pacers, and Nuggets), Denver’s name probably has the most personality. However, it’s a frighteningly ineffective name that no doubt has been used as a double entendre in schoolyards across the country. At its most harmless, you could liken them to Chicken McNuggets. At its most juvenile, you can liken them to boogers. I don’t even want to speculate what the most outrageous word association would be. I mean, c’mon, “nuggets.” Minus points for having a name so bad that no car will ever be named after it. Rating: 1/5

Dallas Mavericks — It’s a decent name. I don’t have much to say about it, except that the theme song to “Maverick” gets stuck in my head when I see it. This is, by the way, one of the teams that I wish could’ve been named after its very visible owner. Think of it: the Dallas Cubans. Or, the Dallas Dancin’ Cubans. Still … “Maverick was his name!” Rating: 4/5

New Orleans Hornets — The franchise seems to be cursed. They had a tough time drawing crowds in Charlotte. And right now, they’re having a hard time drawing crowds in Nawlins, eventhough they have, surprisingly, one of the best records in the West. That doesn’t matter, though, because Hornets is a kickass name. I’m frankly surprised that it took so long for the NBA to use the hornets name. Basketball is probably the sport I most associate with bug swarms. Rating: 5/5

San Antonio Spurs — Bland. Rating: 3/5

Houston Rockets — It’s weird that rockets feel so retro now, even though we’ve only scratched the surface of space exploration. Ditto the whole concept of NASA. It’s like going to the moon is some fevered dream in the past. Still, Rockets is still a wonderful, high-powered name. It’s sleek, fast, mentioned in the national anthem, and highly appropriate for a city that gave rise to the phrase, “Houston, we have a problem.” Rating: 5/5

Memphis Grizzlies — Wikipedia tells me that there are no grizzly bears in Memphis. They’re inhabitants of the North … frankly, Canada and nearby regions. It’s a great name, and it made much more sense when the team was in Vancouver. So I propose a three way trade between Portland, Utah, and Memphis. Portland can become the Portland Grizzlies. The Salt Lake City team becomes the Utah Trailblazers. Which means that Memphis becomes the Memphis Jazz. Win-win-win! Rating: 4/5


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