The WNBA Deserves Better Team Names

Sure the Indiana Fever just won a title, but that doesn't mean a name change wouldn't be refreshing. - Michael Hickey

Basketball has a long and storied history of terrible team names - from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Utah Starzz. These bad names usually fit into one of two categories: namely, they either do not fit the city where they’re located (I see you, Utah Jazz) or are genuinely not good at all (Connecticut Sun). I am convinced that we, the teeming masses, deserve better.

Atlanta Dream

There are a couple of things worth noting here.

-Singular team names are the bane of a sportswriter’s existence. Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, etc. It forces you to write clunky sentences like, "Angel McCoughtry was the only Dream player to score more than 10 points." It sounds stupid.

-The name was selected by fans and gives tribute to Atlanta native Martin Luther King Jr. Get it? "I have a dream?" Great speech, crappy basketball name. Not to mention saying "Atlanta" and "dream" right next to each other is ironic enough to make the 313,467,573 humans not living in Atlanta chuckle.

Should they change their name: Yes. Please.

What should they change it to: Love you MLK Jr., but shoot, the Kings would’ve been a better name if you wanted to pay tribute to the man. And don’t tell me they can’t steal an NBA team’s name -- we see you, Connecticut. The Atlanta Kings, Atlanta Peaches, Atlanta Magnolias or the Atlanta Thrashers (former NHL name, state bird of Atlanta).

Chicago Sky

This name is meant to pay tribute to the skyline of Chicago, because someone went to Chicago and was most impressed by a bunch of tall office buildings. Wait, what? Really? God why? Who wants to cheer for the sky? Not even the night sky - just the regular old blue sky that they get three months a year in the midwest.

Also: Every time someone makes a "The Sky’s the Limit" pun about this team an athlete tears an ACL.

Should they change their name: Yes.

What should they change it to: The Chicago Midways, the Chicago Deep Dish (okay, no, but mmm pizza), the Chicago Dogs or the Chicago Dead People Vote Here.

Connecticut Sun

This team gets its name from the casino that sponsors it. Go ahead and put your obligatory Pete Rose joke right here. Sweet. Good one. It’s a singular team name taken from a casino with not a dash of consideration for the local culture -- and the logo looks like it was drawn by a sixth grader to top it all off. Good try, good effort Connecticut.

Should they change their name: Yes.

What should they change it to: the Connecticut Frost, Connecticut Blizzard (the name of a WBL team that played in the city), Connecticut Patriots.

Indiana Fever

This name likely originated from the state of Indiana having "basketball fever" or something. Well shoot, I’ve always wanted to cheer for something that could kill me from the inside out. When will the Milwaukee Flu get their chance!? In all seriousness, while I think this name is a little lame -- it at least takes its roots from paying tribute to the people of Indiana, who were instrumental to the team coming into existence in the first place.

Should they change their name: Yes.

What should they change it to: If they are going with a disease related name...the Indiana Plague has a sweet ring to it. If not, the Indiana Corn (ha ha ha), Indiana Swish or the Indiana Peach Baskets. I know they didn’t invent basketball, but a state that is so closely intertwined with the sport could totally pull this off.

Los Angeles Sparks

There’s good news and bad news here. The good news: A PLURAL TEAM NAME, HALLELUJAH! The bad news: The Sparks? Goodness that makes almost as little sense as the Lakers! Is this a veiled joke about all the riots in Los Angeles over the years? Why is there a palm tree in a logo for a team that has to do with fire? This was the best L.A. could do?

Should they change their name: Yes, but they can’t because they’ve been around too long and have too much invested in the "Sparks" brand.

What they should change it to: The Los Angeles Drive would be my nomination as it both reflects the most (in)famous part of the city and can be used for all kinds of god-awful promotional puns. And can you imagine an anthropomorphic car as a mascot? That would be incredible. Even a beach-related name would do; perhaps the Los Angeles Coast or the Los Angeles Waves?

Minnesota Lynx

Okay, so this is the third category of WNBA team names: the we-were/are-owned-by-an-NBA-team-so-our-name-is-a-version-of-their-name category. Lame. Unless the Toronto Raptors bought a team and we got a Toronto Rexes or Toronto Triceratops team -- I’d be behind that 100 percent; and while I don’t like the idea of parroting another team’s name, this is a pretty strong effort. It’s a powerful animal and is sort of native to Minnesota.

Should they change their name: Eh, no.

Edit: After my wife read this post, she sent me a drawing of what a Toronto Triceratops logo should look like. Enjoy.

Edit 2: Now in glorious technicolor.



New York Liberty

I don’t know about you, but I love the United States of America. This name is cheesy, over the top and comes complete with a logo that includes the Statue of Liberty -- and I love it. While some of the WNBA’s teams suffer from being named after "ideas" (Dream, Liberty, Shock) I think in this case it works because it’s memorable. Who wouldn’t want to cheer for liberty? Sit DOWN Kim Jong Un, nobody asked you!

Should they change their name: No.

Phoenix Mercury

Interesting story: It’s extremely hot in Phoenix. The city is named after a bird that bursts into flames, which ought to give you some indication. Mercury is both a chemical known to cause cancer and is the planet in our solar system closer to the sun -- which is, you know, pretty hot. So I’m willing to give this name a pass -- in a city best known for its heat and Steve Nash, Mercury fits.

Should they change their name: No.

San Antonio Silver Stars

Originally the Utah Starzz, one of the worst team names of all time, the Silver Stars sort of kind of fits for a city in Texas. You know, cowboys and spurs and stuff. It’s certainly meant to pay homage to the Spurs and I’m not crazy about that, and I’m usually not behind two word team names (even I call them the Stars more often than not) but it’s not an awful name -- and the opportunity to make outer space puns and reference "Deep in the Heart of Texas" on a regular basis gives this name a pass for me.

Should they change their name: No.

Seattle Storm

Did you know it rains a lot in Seattle? You do? Well, then this name already makes sense to you. One of my favorite names in the WNBA, the Storm, while singular, is a memorable name that plays on the most famous part of the city the team plays in. The team does itself a disservice by making its logo and jersey so similar to the now-defunct SuperSonics, but they’re one of a few teams in the WNBA that I could never imagine going by a different name -- which ought to be the goal, right?

Should they change their name: No.

Tulsa Shock

This is not a good name. The Shock originally called Detroit their home and the name didn’t make any more sense there than it does in Oklahoma. Is it an electricity thing? Because it’s certainly not an earthquake thing.

Should they change their name: Yes.

Name replacements: The Tulsa Twisters is a great name-change candidate and would better capture local flair while including a plural nickname, the Tulsa Tornado would also fit just fine.

Washington Mystics

It’s one thing to parrot a great NBA team name, it’s another to decide you want your name to remind people of the Washington Wizards. What is a Mystic, anyway? Is that another word for a sorcerer? Certainly they couldn’t go with witches because of the negative associations that come with it, but you play in our nation’s capitol and the best you could do is the Mystics?

Should they change their name: Yes.

Some name replacements: The Washington Monuments, the Washington Memorials or the Washington Corruption (ha ha that’s a political joke).

If you could change any WNBA team’s name, whose would you change and to what?