A modest, sensible, reasonable proposal that is certain to fail

April 17, 2008 | 61 comments
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Utah’s NBA team needs to change its name, period. The name is silly. There is no jazz in the state of Utah. They should give the Jazz name back to the good folks of New Orleans, for whom the moniker actually makes sense, and pick a new one that actually makes sense for Utah.

Which new monikers might work? Avalanche and Rockies are already taken. Skiiers or snowboarders is probably infeasible. Green-Jello-eaters instills fear, but in the wrong direction. Cougars is of course out of the question. Utah Saints is catchy but maybe too exclusionary; also, it evokes 90s techno music that is better forgotten. Templers (Templars?) is too Dan Brown.

If only there were an important and unique geographical feature, something particularly Utahn, that the team could style itself after.

Oh wait, there is.

And so, in honor of that local geographical feature, the team really ought to call itself . . .

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. . . the Utah Lakers.

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61 Responses to A modest, sensible, reasonable proposal that is certain to fail

  1. Kaimi Wenger on April 17, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    p.s. Go Suns!

    :)

  2. Russell Arben Fox on April 17, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    I will support the Utah Jazz being required by law to give up their ridiculous name as soon as the equally riciculous Memphis Grizzies are similarly charged.

  3. Martin James on April 17, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    In honor of Larry Miller, how about the Millstoners?

  4. JT on April 17, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    \”The Salt\” (a la Sidney Rigdon).

    While \”Jazz\” may not make much sense for Utah, I think the biggest franchise-name-gone-wrong-when-team-moved would have to be the former Minneapolis Lakers from the land of 10,000 lakes becoming the Los Angeles Lakers of the land of…how many lakes?

  5. Eugene V. Debs on April 17, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Broker a trade with the New Orleans Saints. Yes, its mixing sports. Yes, not everyone in Utah would like the name. But it would be much more accurate.

  6. Marc Bohn on April 17, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Is it bad to have grown attached something so ridiculous?

  7. Mark IV on April 17, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Partial list of sports franchises which have moved and ended up with idiotic names:

    1. New Orleans Jazz – Utah Jazz
    2. Minneapolis Lakers – L.A. Lakers
    3. Vancouver Grizzlies – Memphis Grizzlies
    4. Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers – L.A. Dodgers
    5. New York Giants – San Francisco Giants
    6. Kansas City Kings – Sacramento Kings

  8. Jason J on April 17, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    As one of the five or six people from Utah who absolutely loves jazz music, I object to this whole exercise. There may be no good jazz clubs in Utah, but at least the “Jazz at the Hilton/Sheraton” series brings in some big names in jazz 7 or 8 times a year. I saw Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Wayner Shorter and plenty of others right there in Salt Lake.

    Hey, it’s not much. But it’s gotta top the number of grizzlies in Memphis.

  9. Jeremy on April 17, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    1) The sports guy on NPR suggesting having Utah and LA trade names long ago. Beat you to it.

    2) I know lots and lots of jazz musicians in Salt Lake that would be personally offended by your characterization, Kaimi. I would suspect that Utah actually has more jazz going on, per capita, than it should–not hard to find at all, if you know where to look. Not to mention the jazz artists it attracts: during my undergrad years at the U., I rode the #4 bus downtown to the Hilton Ballroom to hear Joshua Redman, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Stanley Turrentine, Milt Jackson, Clark Terry (who sucked on an oxygen mask in between solos because of the altitude!), and many others. Sure, New Orleans has us beat, calling the team the Jazz is no travesty in Utah.

  10. Sam B. on April 17, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Plus, thanks to Ray Smith, BYU has a very strong jazz program. Utah may have very little jazz, but there is some. (Plus, at least 8 years ago when I was there, NPR played traditional jazz (not the post-Miles version of fusion) after 7:00 pm.)

  11. JimD on April 17, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Doesn’t New Orleans still have a football team called the Saints?

    Maybe we should set up a trade.

  12. Mark IV on April 17, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Far be it from to to brag, but next weekend I will be here:

    http://www.nojazzfest.com/cubes/index.php?day=2008-04-26

  13. Mark B. on April 17, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Isn’t it a violation of T&S blogging policy to have huge amounts of dead air in your posts?

  14. Last Lemming on April 17, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Give Jazz back to New Orleans, which would then give Hornets back to Charlotte (there is historical significance to the name Charlotte Hornets), which would then give Bobcats to Utah. Not as cool as Grizzlies or Lakers, but still an improvement.

    New Orleans would not part with Saints because then their team could not “come marching in” at opportune times.

    I don’t get why Giants and Kings are any less appropriate in their current cities than in their original cities.

  15. Raymond Takashi Swenson on April 17, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    But what would we do without all the sports names with “ZZ” at the end? (Representing the way they put us to sleep?) (And don’t tell me that the Buzz became the Bees again. That’s just more of the problem.)

    I guess I don’t get the name of the soccer team: REAL Salt Lake (like someone is trying to impersonate us?) ;-) REAL sounds too . . . concrete, and you know how fast concrete is.

    At least for a time there was synchronicity between the JAZZ playing in the DELTA Center, since both Jazz and Delta Airlines originated in the Mississippi Delta region (which runs up to Memphis). “Energy Solutions” sounds vaguely like a powder for making a sports drink.

  16. Jason J on April 17, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Jeremy

    Sounds like we went to the same concerts. I couldn’t believe Clark Terry sounded as good as he did between hits from the oxygen mask.

    Oh, and the U certainly doesn’t have as strong a jazz program as the Y, but they have had some excellent young soloists go through their program the last five years or so.

  17. WillF on April 17, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    The statement “there is no jazz in Utah” invokes the same emotions in me as the statement “Mormons don’t use the bible.” Granted Utah is not a jazz capitol, but there is jazz in Utah if you look for it. As someone already posted, thanks to Ray Smith and his comrades at BYU, we have BYU’s top jazz ensemble Synthesis, as well as his faculty combo. In fact, it looks like we just missed a concert:

    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695269872,00.html

    Then there is http://www.jazzslc.com/.

    As an amateur jazz musician, I always hoped that having a team named Utah Jazz would bring more jazz to Utah. Changing the logo into something that looks like it belongs on a movie about the gold rush didn’t help though. That has got to be one of the strangest logos if you think about it.

  18. Raymond Takashi Swenson on April 17, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    I just had a brainstorm!

    During the 2002 Olympics (a legitimate sporting event which somehow includes all winter sports EXCEPT for basketball) there were features in the national news about how Utah has more pianos per capita than anywhere else in the country, and the stories all featured the Five Browns just before they made their act’s concert debut.

    So how about the UTAH PIANOZZ!

    This name would more accurately reflect the true musical heritage of Utah, and we could have bronze statues of Grant Johannesen and other prominent Utah concert pianists populating the plaza in front of the arena, dressed in PIANOZZ uniforms. We could even include Alexander Schreiner and the other Tabernacle Organists, sort of a theme that draws tourists from the arena over to Temple Square.

    We could have distinctive icons for all of the sports paraphernalia, and the FANZZ could yell at the team “Drop a piano on them!” The sports writers could do endless variations (pun intended) on statements like “The team was out of tune tonight” and “It came to a crashing grand finale!” And instead of the same old sports music, Utah crowds could be whipped into a frenzy by the choruses from Beethoven’s Ninth and Carmina Burana (which is on half the movie trailers ever produced). The Bear could take piano lessons.

    And then there are the crossover promotions, where we could invite PIANOZZ basketball fanzz to attend the Utah Symphony and Ballet West (“With every season ticket, get a balcony seat to our rockin’ Utah Pops series!”) and vice versa (“See the artistry of our team as they glissando across the court!”). And we would have pop concerts with PIANOZZ demonstrating ball handling to the traditional melody of “Sweet Georgia Brown”, and pre-season games between the PIANOZZ and the entire woodwinds section of the orchestra!

    NO more lousy singing of the national anthem! We would have REAL opera with our basketball!!!

  19. kevinf on April 17, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    How about the Utah Pyramid Marketers? Think of all the commercial tie-ins. Get your downline revved up to sell tickets!

  20. Jeremy on April 17, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Yeah, Energy Solutions is a horrible, horrible name for an arena. It’s almost Simpsonian. “Coming to you live, from the Radioactive Waste Arena…”

    And REAL Salt Lake has a weird, postmodern ring to it. It at once nods to Baudrillard, who criticized the pervasive and relentless fakeness of American culture, and insists on its own exception to the rule. Which makes it even more impertinently phony as a marketing/branding strategy. Real WHAT? They should call themselves the “Salt Lake REALISHNESS…ISM.”

    I am submitting this comment as an abstract to the the next Modern Language Association meeting.

  21. Mark IV on April 17, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    LL,

    The KC basketball and baseball franchises both got their names from the American Royal, held annually in KC since 1899. Obscure to be sure, but it nonetheless makes sense to the local yokels, of which I am proud to be one.

    NY Giants were named for the sprawling metropolis which they called home. SF is about the same size as Indianapolis or El Paso, and the El Paso Giants just doesn’t sound right.

  22. kevinf on April 17, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    REAL Salt Lake, apparently lost to all you non-soccer fans, is a nod to Real Madrid, one of the premier European professional football franchises, arguably right up there with Manchester United.

  23. Mark IV on April 17, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Isn’t Real Salt Lake a lame attempt at cosmopolitan affectation? Real Madrid (pronounced ray-all, means royal, I think) is one of futbol’s best franchises. I just assumed that the SL team was aiming high. Please, please tell me that y’all don’t say Reel Salt Lake.

  24. California Condor on April 17, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    The name Jazz has to stay in Utah. If a poorly-named team stays in a city long enough, its name becomes an adopted icon.

    Exhibit A: The Los Angeles Lakers. They are an American cultural touchstone not to be tinkered with.

    The real problem with the Jazz is their uniforms. They need to go back to the purple, green, and yellow that they wore in the Eighties. Their 1980s logo was iconic: A “J” formed by a stylized basketball – music note combination.

  25. Not into soccer but... on April 17, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    #22 – Thank you for pointing this out! The name Real is not pronounced like the word “real.” Example – I wish the Utah Jazz at a real name. It’s pronounced Ree Al.

  26. Not into soccer but... on April 17, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    #22 – Thank you for pointing this out! The name Real is not pronounced like the word “real.” Example – I wish the Utah Jazz at a real name. It’s pronounced Ree Al.

  27. Raymond Takashi Swenson on April 17, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    #21, Mark IV: I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for five years, arriving just in time to be caught downtown in the 1989 earthquake just before the opening game of the Bay Bridge World Series between the SF Giants and the Oakland As.

    Since the Golden Gate Bridge is what everyone associates with San Francisco, I thought the team should have been named The Bridgers. It’s a perfectly good name, and it even has an historical tie to San Francisco. Jim Bridger found the Great Salt Lake, and THOUGHT it was the Pacific Ocean (I can see why Brigham Young didn’t take his advice), sort of like the fictional wagon train leader who was the namesake and founder of the little town of Blaine, Missouri, which was established when he told the people who hired him that the Missouri River was the Pacific Ocean. Blaine’s history is celebrated in its 1997 sesquicentennial (where did they get that idea?) pageant in the Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy movie “Waiting for Guffman.”

  28. Kim Siever on April 17, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Utah Peaks

  29. Sean on April 17, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Agreed Kaimi, on 2 points:

    1. Go Suns!

    2. The name Utah Jazz makes no sense logically. But it’s ingrained in the culture now. (See LA Lakers, from someone’s comment above). It’s unlikely to get changed. If it were, I like the ideas of the Saints or the Lakers.

  30. Clark on April 17, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    There is a fair bit of Jazz in Utah. Sundance has a pretty good Jazz and Blues festival over Pioneer Day weekend. There’s an other Jazz fest in Park City. And while the clubs go up and down you usually can find reasonable Jazz if you look. Not New Orleans quality of course – although I think you’d find more in LA, NY, Chicago and so forth than New Orleans. At least when I was in that region.

  31. Clark on April 17, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Aarrghh. After bragging about the Snowbird Fest I went to their website only to find they dropped the Jazz part a couple of years ago. Now it’s the Rock and Blues fest. Ugh. (Don’t get me wrong – I like rock. But I had a blast in my single years at the Jazz and Blues fest)

    They did have Jazz at one of their lounges but that ended with the ski season.

  32. manaen on April 17, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    As a native of Los Angeles, I grew up thinking that our round-ball team’s named derived from our initials: “L-A-kers” — similar to how we got the keenly revealing symbol for our airport: LAX.

  33. Scott Fife on April 17, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    There are many pro sport mascots, that don’t match-up with the city. Are there bears, bulls, and little bear cubs roaming the streets of Chicago, and lions and tigers in Detroit? I doubt there are many Indians living in Cleveland or Atlanta. Also, I have never seen Bighorn Sheep climbing and living on buildings in St.Louis, or previously LA.

    I think it would be great if Utah, New Orleans, and Charlotte could work out some kind of arrangement to transfer mascot names, but I am not holding my breath.

  34. Raymond Takashi Swenson on April 17, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    #26: Are you sure it’s not pronounced “re (short e) al (rhymes with “all”)”? I thought Spanish was like Italian and Japanese, in pronouncing the five vowels a-e-i-o-u as “ah, eh, ee, oh, oo”. The Spanish textbook my friends used in my junior high was titled “El Camino Real” (the royal road). I took German, which cannot be pronounced.

    I just think it is odd that in trying to introduce professional soccer to Utah they would use a name that can be so easily mispronounced by the soccer novices whom they need to entice into buying tickets. The name sets up an immediate hierarchy of those who are soccer fans and those who are not, and allowing the former to embarrass the latter, which is a big disincentive to hang out down at the stadium in Sandy.

  35. Left Field on April 17, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    The list of teams with names appropriate to their former city, but not to their current one should include the stolen NFL franchise that currently plays in Indianapolis. You’ll notice that I refuse to acknowledge their ill-gotten name.

    The former Washington Bullets turned out to be appropriately named, but for a very different reason than gave the franchise its name in Baltimore.

    The short-lived Tennessee Oilers also deserve a mention, as do the California / Anaheim Angels, which hasn’t actually played in the City of Angels since they abandoned Dodger Stadium and LA’s Wrigley Field.

  36. StillConfused on April 17, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    The Tabernacle
    The Polygamists (hey why not…. certainly would make news)
    THe Missionaries (think of the fun you could have there)
    The Aryans (why are there so many blonds in Utah)
    The Flats (Salt Flats that is)
    The Society
    The Winers (or whiners)

  37. rjamesh on April 17, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    I got it folks – The Utah Golden Spikes

  38. California Condor on April 17, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    The Jazz must stay the Jazz. The case is closed.

    But if Salt Lake ever got another team, a good name would be “Pioneers.”

  39. JT on April 17, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Just to confirm Mark IV’s thought in (23), and for those of you who don’t habla espanol, Real (pronounced RAY-all) does indeed mean “royal,” and “el nino” is spanish for… “the nino.” Man, I miss Chris Farley.

  40. Jeremiah J. on April 17, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    As a Jazz fan and a jazz fan and a huge fan of the city of New Orleans I totally disagree with Kaimi. The fact that my team used to have Pete Maravich (on both the N.O. and Utah *Jazz*) on it is a lot more important to me than the fact that my team resides in a city with mountains, copper mines, snow, Mormons, Sea Monkeys or what have you. The history of the game, not the local tourism bureau. Avalanche; Spark; Diamondbacks; Heat; Stampede; Flash! Sports teams are starting to sound like amusement park rides.

    If they did change it I’d like to see a literary reference, like the Knicks or the Ravens. I’m sure a no-brainer will come to mind from a book or poem I actually like, but I can’t think of one right now.

    One thing I do favor is that people from Utah stop saying that “Saints” has nothing to do with New Orleans.

    “Are there bears, bulls, and little bear cubs roaming the streets of Chicago?”

    What else has both bears and bulls? Hint: It’s related to Chicago.

  41. Mark B. on April 17, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    Since I was in a meeting this past week with one of the owners of [cough, cough] Real Salt Lake, I have to be circumspect in my comments about that whole operation.

    But the choice of name is worse than ridiculous. Put it in English, folks. “Royal Salt Lake”??? What is royal about Salt Lake? And nobody there can pronounce it. And only the Mexicans who are flocking there in an attempt to make Lou Dobbs’s fat head literally explode as his blood pressure reaches new heights (now, there’s something to cheer for) know what it means.

    And any resemblance to Real Madrid is a mirage.

    Which gives me an idea: the Utah Mirages. Ever driven across the Salt Flats? (But don’t call the cheerleaders the Salt Flats.)

  42. Jason J on April 17, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Although I do oppose any change to the Jazz name, if Utah is ever in need of a new team name, why not bring back the Trappers? I loved that team. Beats the Sting/Buzz/Beezz/whatever they are now. Not only was it a great team name, but the team set the record for consecutive wins for professional baseball and Bill Murray was a part owner. Why come up with a new name when we let such a great one go?

  43. bnice on April 17, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    i remember an article in sports illustrated a long time ago that listed all the silly franchise names that didn’t make sense after a team moved from one city to another. in talking about the Utah Jazz, the writer noted that, in Salt Lake, “there is is a lot of honky, but no tonk.” i didn’t know if i should laugh or be offended, but it was a good point.

  44. Stein on April 18, 2008 at 12:08 am

    Your subject does more to reveal your lack of awareness than addressing why Jazz doesn\’t fit for the B-ball Team. For those of us who were in college during the 60\’s who will ever forget the KSL Jazz program each night with Wes Bowen from 9:00 PM until midnight. Not to mention visits to Utah by Dave Bruebeck, George Shearing and many others who were mentioned in post number 9. I also had the opportunity to tour Scandinavia in 1992 with Ray Smith and BYU\’s Synthesis. These young college kids brought the house down at many of the well known Jazz festivals in Sweden, Norway and especially in Finland. You ought to do your home work next time before making such an uninformed recommendation.

  45. Jeremy on April 18, 2008 at 12:23 am

    Okay, I’ve come up with three excellent options:

    The Utah Jetties (with a spiral logo…)

    The Downwinders (with a mushroom cloud logo…)

    The Salt Lake Salt Licks

    Trademarks pending.

  46. Peter LLC on April 18, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Hello, people. Any name suggestions should have a “zz” in there somewhere to be considered seriously.

  47. Hans Hansen on April 18, 2008 at 11:25 am

    If they keep the team in Salt Lake it could be The Salt Lake Sand Flies or The Salt Lake Brine Shrimp.

    Of course you could move the team to some other city in Utah.

    Ogden Railroaders, Ogden Spikers

    Logan Cheesemakers

    Bear Lake=Utah Bear Lakers

    Heber City=The Heber Creepers

    Park City=The Silver Miners

    St. George=The St. George Dragons

    Hurricane=The Hurricane Hurricanes, or the Hurrikun Hurrikuns

    Hilldale/Colorado City (Women’s Basketball Team)=Utah Wives (although it might be a bit hard to play in pioneer dresses!

  48. Ken on April 18, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    In a weird way, the Utah Jazz moniker is actually a testament to the team\’s staying power. When asked why the powers-that-were didn\’t change the team\’s name after the Jazz moved from New Orleans to Salt Lake City, then-Jazz coach (and later team president) Frank Layden quipped (probably only half-jokingly, given the fact that the team used to trade players for cash), \”Nobody thought the team was going to be around that long anyway.\” I love the Jazz, incongruous moniker and all.

    Go, Utah!!!!!!

  49. MrBlue on April 18, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    What about the Utah Danites? ;)

  50. AH on April 18, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Rename the Utah Polygs. Go Polygs!!

  51. AH on April 18, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Rename them the Utah Polygs. Go Polygs!!

  52. Hans Hansen on April 18, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    #49. “What about the Utah Danites? ;) ”

    Or the Utah Rockwells.

    How about the Utah Avenging Angels? Kinda like that one! :-)

    Or, split the team between Salt Lake and Rexburg, Idaho.

    the Mountain Marmons!

  53. jsg on April 18, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Utah colts.

  54. Gene O'Grady on April 19, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    On the San Francisco Giants name, my understanding (doubtless derived from an ancient SF Giant publication) is that the New York Giant nickname had nothing to do with the size of the Gotham metropolis, it referred to the size of the players on the team ca. 1880. So it’s not particularly appropriate or inappropriate to the current team, which has always done a fairly decent job of emphasizing its ties to its pre-SF history.

  55. AF on April 20, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    The Utah Sister-Wives? The Utah Spazz? The Utah Oxen? Utah Salt? Utah Golden Spikes? The Utah Millenials? The Utah Beehive? Utah Zionists?

    I agree with the trade with N’Orleans. Great idea.

    Did anyone catch Ric Bucher’s take on why Jazz fans are so loud? Funny stuff

  56. Aaron C. on April 21, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    I like that the Jazz name has had staying power in Utah, even though I’m all for an organization changing its name when it changes locations. I think its unusual for teams to bring their name with them with big fan support so most owners choose not to do it.

    In Arizona the Cardinals (a holdover name from St. Louis) are definitely the 3rd team behind the Suns and the Diamondbacks (two teams that have very Arizonan names, but both were expansion teams). I hear all the time that “Diamondbacks” is a hokey name. Its a perfect name for Arizona baseball. baseball+ baseball diamond+rattle snake = diamondback – and its shortened down to D-Backs.

    Yes, there are cardinals in Arizona – but no one really associates the name with the place. If the owners had changed the name to something “local” I think the people would have embraced the team more. (Warriors – non-pc native american name, Sting – think Scorpion, Wranglers/Bandits (old USFL teams), or RoughRiders (John Campbell Greenway – one of Roosevelts RoughRiders) I’ve always been a New Orleans Saints fan – I’d be extremely disappointed if the name were traded to Utah.

    And does no one else see the Tennessee/Grizzlies connection?(think Davy Crockett)
    Or the Clevland Indians? Or Atlanta Braves?

  57. jjackson on April 21, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    I was at a game a couple of weeks ago. Should definitely be called the …

    Utah \”Vanilla\”

  58. Bob on April 22, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    I’m down with the Utah Phariseezz. And let’s rename the Lakers as the Los Angeles Slackerzz.

  59. Tony on April 23, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Re. #21- Sorry Mark IV, but you’re a little off on the reasoning behind the naming of the one-time KC (-Omaha) NBA franchise. The Cincinatti Royals relocated to the midwest in 1972 and since the “Royals” name was already taken by the expansion baseball team the NBA team became the KC-Omaha Kings.

    Just sayin’…

  60. Sean on April 23, 2008 at 10:49 am

    The Sports Guy on espn.com proposed yesterday that if the Jazz play the New Orleans Hornets in the Western Conference Finals (a big “if”), the winner should get the Jazz name. See here, point number 8.

  61. Aaron C. on April 24, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    #60 – I love the idea of the two cities battling it out for rights to the name.

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