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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Run Like the Wind, Kevin Durant

Well the unofficial list of potential names for the Oklahoma City NBA franchise are public, and for the most part, they are hideous.

Let's break 'em down:

The Wind
First off, I stand opposed to any and all singular words as team names (with the exception of soccer clubs, because "United" just sounds cool).

As if that wasn't enough... know what else is called "The Wind?" The album Warren Zevon wrote and recorded while he was dying of cancer. And farts. Neither is a great association for a basketball team.

And isn't Oklahoma City right in the middle of "Tornado Alley?" Why remind fans of weather conditions that are -- at minimum -- really unpleasant and at maximum can kill you? That'd be like naming a New York Team "The Humidity" or a New Orleans Team "The Flood" or a Miami team "The Hurricanes."

Wait. Forget that last one.

All most of my objections to "Wind" apply here as well. Plus, "Thunder" was the name of the incredibly lame St. John's horse mascot.

Animal nicknames are usually pretty good... and I believe "Bison" is technically both singular and plural. But people might have a hard time getting past the "Ted Turner's restaurant chain" connotation.

Ye gods... the worst of the bunch, by a fair piece. Where do I begin?

It's a singular name, which is just awkward.

It's not something that can be represented easily in a logo... which opens the door for really horrible uniforms and such.

It's tailor-made for a stunning variety of punny headlines whenever the team loses. Just off the top of my head,

"Energy Displays None in Listless Loss to..."
"Power Outage"
"Energy Futures Take a Beating"
"Energy: Enron-Esque"
Perhaps worst of all, it really sounds like the name of a WNBA team.

Henry Abbott at True Hoop has reported that the trademark application on this one is very specific with the alternate-but-still-acceptable "one l" spelling. I can get behind that... alternate spellings are OK. Purposeful mis-spellings for branding purposes (i.e., Starzz) are not.

Aside from that, you could do far worse than to use cowboy imagery for your team.

A lot to like with this one. It plays up the regional oil industry history, without being yet another team called "The Oilers." And "Barons" as a team name has a pretty rich history in and of itself, going back to the Birmingham Black Barons of baseball's Negro Leagues.

Potential negatives: a whole lot of "There Will Be Blood" references in game stories... and a subtle-yet-constant reminder of Snoopy as World War I flying ace.

Despite all that, put my vote in the "Barons" column.

Not that I get a vote.


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