The NBA season approaches — no kidding, training camp in four days — and I'm worried about the change.
Not the loss of Ron Adams as the defensive guru. Not the possible lineup switch at center. Not the Thunder's status from fawned to feared. Not the transformation of Kevin Durant from budding superstar to charming Godzilla.
I'm worried about the arena name.
The Ford Center name is no more, at least officially. The contract is over between the Oklahoma Ford Dealers and the Thunder, and a splendid decade it was.
There are better arena names than Ford Center, but in this corporate-sponsorship world, there are worse. Way worse.
The Cavs play in Quicken Loans Arena, which wisenheimers would nickname the Shylock Center. The Hawks play in Times Warner Cable Arena, the Jazz in Energy Solutions Arena, the Celtics in TD Banknorth Garden.
Gone are the mystical names that suggested untold adventures. The Spectrum. The Omni. The Myriad. The Forum.
We're not going back to the regal names of yesteryear. Madison Square Garden. The Palestra. Chicago Stadium.
Too much money to be made pasting a business' name on the side of brick.
Which leads to our luck in having the Ford Center since the building opened in 2001. Ford is a classy corporate name. Energy Solutions? Time Warner Cable? A mouthful and business-come-latelys on the American commercial scene.
But Ford? A small, compact word that packs a punch. A word that stands for something.
American ingenuity. Venerable. Classic. Classy. Fiscally responsible. No government bailout for Ford.
No telling what we'll get now. No telling that we'll get. With the current economic climate, arena sponsorship remains dicey. Jerry Jones still searches for a name to slap on his spaceship.