Worst Basketball Team Names Ever Created
Naming a sports team is no easy feat. You have to find something both powerful and cool that's worth cheering on so that your players (and fans) can be proud to represent.
Unfortunately, not all team names meet these standards. In recent history, we've seen sports teams change their names because they're boring, don't make sense or are downright offensive. In basketball, there are only five that we can truly dub "the worst basketball team names ever" — but three of them are still alive and well.
Can we come up with something better, already?
5. Chicago Packers
Bottom line: The blasphemy of this name can’t be lost on residents of Chicago or Green Bay. They were the first modern expansion team in NBA history and would eventually become the Washington Wizards. While the Green Bay Packers got their name from getting their first uniforms from the Indian Packing Company, the Chicago Packers were an ode to The Windy City’s meatpacking industry. Unsurprisingly, the name was extremely unpopular across the Midwest, and the club would change its name to the Chicago Zephyrs after just one year.
4. Miami Floridians
Bottom line: Simply naming your team after your state’s demonym seems lazy — i.e., the Houston Texans and the Miami Floridians. The latter was originally called the Minnesota Muskies for its inaugural season but then relocated to South Beach. It then rebranded as the Miami Floridians because, clearly, without the “Floridians” part, people would have assumed you were talking about Miami of Ohio — not!
After two years, the club then dropped Miami from its name and was known as The Floridians as it played home games in Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville. That name made sense because it represented all of Florida, but Miami Floridians just sounds like a name from The Department of Redundancy.
3. Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Bottom line: Indiana may be the most basketball-crazed state in the country, but that passion didn’t help when the residents named Fort Wayne’s G-League team. The franchise held a name-the-team contest, and fans could select from Lightning, Fire, Coyotes or Mad Ants. The first three are rudimentary yet serviceable team names; however, Fort Wayners clearly wanted something unique. Thus, Mad Ants was chosen, although the name doesn’t exactly elicit fear from opponents.
While national fans may think the name actually refers to those little insects that bite your ankles, it’s actually an homage to the city of Fort Wayne’s namesake, General “Mad” Anthony Wayne.
2. Memphis Grizzlies
Bottom line: The Grizzlies originally entered the NBA as the Vancouver Grizzlies in 1995. They then proceeded to have six straight losing seasons, never made the playoffs during that span and finished at the bottom of the league in attendance each year. Then, the franchise relocated to Memphis but kept the Grizzlies name despite two major issues.
One would be that grizzly bears don’t exist — not only in Memphis but anywhere in the state of Tennessee. The other is that, with the lack of success they had under the name in Vancouver, why wouldn’t they want to change it, rebrand and start anew?
1. Utah Jazz
Bottom line: Of the 28 NBA cities, the one you’d probably least associate with the jazz music genre is Salt Lake City, Utah. But, of course, the name didn’t originate in Utah, as the Utah Jazz started off as the New Orleans Jazz before relocating. It was just over the last decade that the New Orleans Hornets said, “Hey, this name doesn’t fit us, and Charlotte originated it, so we’re going to hand it back over to the Charlotte NBA franchise.”
Thus, the New Orleans Hornets became the New Orleans Pelicans, and the Charlotte Bobcats went back to being the Charlotte Hornets. What’s stopping Utah from doing the same and ceding the Jazz name back to New Orleans? Then, Utah can get a name that’s more fitting to the culture of the state.