Thursday, May 08, 2003

Sorry it's been a while.
This article in Slate came out on the same day that Morning Edition rejected this commentary:
The NBA playoffs are into their second round and I just can’t bring myself to care. Is it the absence of Michael Jordan? The fact that every player has been arrested at least fourteen times this year alone? No. My apathy is borne of one factor: the completely lame-o team nicknames.

In one half of the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs, the Detroit Pistons are taking on the Philadelphia 76ers. While a piston certainly works hard, can anyone really get jacked up to root for a car part? And what, after all, is a 76er? Someone who lived in colonial America? A rabble rousing Declaration of Indepence signing pointy hat wearer? Or are they referring to a nineteen 76er? A Jimmy Carter voting, Fleetwood Mac appreciating, macramé sofa owner? When these two cities square off in football, it's the Lions versus the Eagles, a horrific yet compelling battle of nature. Elsewhere in the East, the Boston Celtics (who, judging by their logo, are green clad Edward G. Robinsons) are taking on the New Jersey Nets. Is anyone tuning in to see chubby pipe smokers battle interwoven pieces of string?

Out west it doesn't get much better. The Spurs of San Antonio are taking on the LA Lakers. Sharp metal boot parts squaring off against - what?- people who live by lakes? The Lakers used to be based in Minnesota but now are one of the unfortunate teams whose nickname bears no relation to their actual locale. At least the Memphis Grizzlies and the Utah Jazz are out of the race. In the final playoff match up, the Sacramento Kings are playing the Dallas Mavericks. This last one is at least a bit compelling: Long robed crown wearing old men battling the Mavericks who I like to think of as a team of James Garner doppelgangers. An admittedly odd game but still intriguing.

As a solution, I propose new nicknames for NBA teams that reflect their cities’ identities while still providing a little bit of an edge. Let’s see the New Jersey Sopranos, the Detroit Economic Conditions, or the Los Angeles Persistent Barbra Streisand Careers. If there was a championship series where the Dallas Handgun Toting Drive-Through Liquor Store Customers took on the Boston Overly Privileged Kennedy Family Members, you can bet I’d tune in for every second of the action. I’d probably even buy some replica jerseys.

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