What's in a NBA nickname?: Make a decision, make it work for Oklahoma City

by Berry Tramel Published: August 25, 2008
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Any day now we'll have a name for our NBA franchise. Promise.

I'm pretty sure.

I hope so.

The name, Thunder I presume, will be met with mixed reviews, as it should be. There are better names out there. There also are worse.

Yes, Thunder sounds a little silly. But what nickname doesn't sound silly if you think about it? What nickname passes any kind of smell test?

Mets, Jets, Nets? If those hokey-at-first names can be launched in New York, why couldn't Oklahoma City have played off Sooners and gone with Boomers?

89ers seems a little cartoonish. But do you think 49ers in San Francisco or 76ers in Philadelphia sounded any better? Now those names are bedrocks of their leagues.

Think about it. You can't imagine your Lovable Losers being anything other than Cubs. Or Johnny U. being anything other than a Colt.

But a cub is a baby bear, and a colt is a young horse. Trot out a team called the Tadpoles, or the Joeys, or the Hatchlings, and we'd hoot them off the stage. But Cubs and Colts survived early scrutiny and now are national icons.

Orioles. Blue Jays. Cardinals. Not birds of prey. Not majestic creatures like Falcons or Eagles or Hawks. Little birds that go cheep-cheep-cheep. Yet beloved names that their cities would defend to the death. So why would Scissortails be disastrous for OKC?

You want a name that depicts Oklahoma, how about the Baptists? Won't go? OK, then explain how Angels, Padres and Saints were born not in the Eisenhower '50s, but the counter-culture '60s and still thrive today.

The point is, most any name works. Some franchises realize that and didn't even try. The Reds. The Blues. The Browns. White Sox. Can you imagine the outrage if Clay Bennett says the name will be the Oklahoma City Greens? But it would be accepted quickly and revered eventually.

Thunder? Absolutely no different from Heat. Miami's NBA team has avoided the name police for 20 years.

Marshals seemed weak, but how is Marshals worse than Cowboys? A marshal is a cowboy with a badge. Dallas Cowboys probably seemed a little goofy in 1960. Now it's as American as New York Yankees.

Barons has negative connotations.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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Dwayne Wade and the Heat have made the nickname work for Miami. Now Oklahoma City's NBA team must embrace whatever nickname it chooses. ASSOCIATED PRESS

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