This is a lesson that pretty much everybody seems intent on teaching us these days. The most discussed examples, perhaps, come from the MLS, where Americans try to turn European-style soccer into an American-style spectacle, but they don’t quite have the confidence to act like Americans about it, so instead they adopt team names that say “God we wish we were European,” such as the farcical “Real Salt Lake” (literal translation: “Royal Salt Lake”). Yet for all their testicle-free Euro-envy, they still can’t stand to live without an NFL-style postseason, and they evidently don’t know what relegation is. Do I sound contemptuous enough? I assure you, I’d show them all the scorn they deserve if I knew how. Here’s one man’s valiant effort.
Next, most of you are probably unaware that there is a thing called the IBL, or “International Basketball League.” One reason you’re unaware of it is that if you do a Google search on IBL, you’ll get a page full of hits for the Indian Badminton League, which also has awful names. Consider that for a moment. Getting beaten at marketing on your native soil by the Indian Badminton League has got to hurt like hell, don’t you think?
So, what do you suppose are the chances that a basketball league as inept as the IBL has decent team names? If you said “pretty rancid,” you’d be right. Teams that have come and gone in this league include the East Bay Pit Bulls, which seems to me like a great way to say “we are jerks”; the Lake County Lakers; and the delightful (to list compilers like me) Shanxi Zhongyu. East Bay, incidentally, is Pig Latin for “beast,” and in my opinion “East Bay Beasts” would have been a pretty cool name.
But the Worst Franchise Namers Prize doesn’t belong to the MSL, the IBL, or the other IBL. Instead, it has to be awarded to the IBL. Yes, there was yet another International Basketball League, once upon a time. This IBL existed from 1999-2001. It boasted a team called “The Cincinnati Stuff,” and for that I think it deserves to be remembered forever. I was alerted to this by a guy who now wishes fervently that he owned a “Stuff” jersey, and now that I think of it, so do I. That league also had such insipid names as the Grand Rapids Hoops, and the Sioux Falls Skyforce. That last one would not be so bad if Sioux Falls was not so easily mistaken for Sioux City, whose airport code is SUX. If the name of your city includes the word “Sioux,” it’s probably better to keep away from the concept of air travel.