The process of choosing a team name can be tedious, with owners opting to hear several opinions before deciding on a name. Over the years, there have been downright ridiculous suggestions, but so far, so good, most team names in the NBA are pleasing to hear. Fans across the globe have gotten used to the current names but many do not know what could have been if not for the ingenuity of a few.
It may seem random, but most of the NBA franchises get their names from the histories of the cities. While that does not take away from some of the epic misses in naming teams, several teams chose to retain their nicknames even after moving to new cities. A great example is the Los Angeles Lakers, who have nothing to do with lakes but stuck with the nickname after moving from Minneapolis, a city in Minnesota popularly called the land of 10,000 lakes.
1. Boston Unicorns
The Celtics was a personal choice by the team owner, Walter Brown. He contemplated several names in 1946 including the Unicorns and the Olympians but ultimately stuck with the Celtics. Although there was a bit of unease as most did not think the Irish name would be welcome, Brown was committed to sticking with the name because it has a rich basketball tradition. The New York Celtics were a successful franchise during their run from 1914-1939.
Per NBA.com, Walter Brown wanted Celtics because of basketball tradition:
"Various nicknames were batted around, including Whirlwinds, Olympians and Unicorns. But Brown wanted Celtics, explaining, 'The name has a great basketball tradition from the old Original Celtics in New York (1914-1939). And Boston is full of Irishmen.'"
The Boston Celtics have long been accepted as the official name and is one of the most successful NBA franchises in league history. They are tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for 17 championships, with their most dominant run being in the 1960s.
2. Chicago Matadors
The Chicago Bulls is one of the most popular franchises in NBA history, thanks to the brilliance of Michael Jordan. But in 1966, Richard Klein needed a nickname for his new franchise and was seriously considering the Chicago Matadors. He aimed to correctly portray Chicago as the hub of the meatpacking industry in the US, but the Matadors wouldn't have cut it. Fortunately, he settled on the Bulls, and the name has since resonated with Chicago residents.