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Are the Grizzlies the worst team name in the NBA? (Nuggets/Grizzlies Preview)...

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Most NBA pundits will tell you that the worst team names in the NBA are the Los Angeles Lakers (because the Los Angeles area has very few, if any, lakes) and the Utah Jazz (the Mormons may be known for their Tabernacle Choir, but certainly not their proficiency with the saxophone, trumpet, trombone or clarinet). Anyone who knows anything about the NBA knows that the Lakers were originally based in Minneapolis (hence the name "Lakers") and that the Jazz originated in New Orleans (hence the name "Jazz"). There have even been rumors in the past of a possible name swap between the two franchises.

Given their geographical locations, the Lakers and Jazz are certainly two of the worst named teams in professional sports. But given that Los Angeles and Utah decided to retain their original team names since 1959 and 1979, respectively, I give the Lakers and Jazz a pass.

The Memphis Grizzlies, on the other hand, have no excuse to be named the Grizzlies. Yes, they originated in Vancouver, but so what? Were the trademark fees so cost prohibitive that they had to retain a name that makes no sense in Memphis whatsoever? (On a side note, the Grizzlies were originally going to be named the "Mounties." Would they be the Memphis Mounties today?) And when the NBA shot down the Grizzlies organization's attempt to be named the Memphis Express - because Memphis is the home to Federal Express - they didn't have another name as a backup?

I know its not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I can't shake it: why the @#$% is a team based in Memphis named the Grizzlies? Not only do grizzly bears only live Alaska, western Canada, Idaho, Montana, Washington, Wyoming and possibly even Colorado, they don't live anywhere near the state of Tennessee and never have. This offends me as both an NBA fan and a former attendee of the Denver Zoo Camp.

Even the Seattle Supersonics and their karmically rotten ownership group had the good sense to rename their team the "Thunder" upon moving to Oklahoma City. Otherwise, the Oklahoma City Supersonics would have shared the worst-team-name-in-the-NBA honor with the Grizzlies.

Fortunately for the Nuggets - who face off against the Grizzlies at Memphis tonight - the current incarnation of the Grizzlies are playing as poorly and incoherently as their team name. At 11-32, the Grizzlies are on the verge of losing their 10th straight (they better lose their 10th straight tonight) and sixth straight game to our Denver Nuggets. Making matters worse in Memphis, the Grizzlies rank 29th out of the NBA's 30 teams in attendance.

Maybe a third franchise move is in order to a metropolitan area that can actually support an NBA team like San Diego, St. Louis, or, dare I say, Las Vegas. But of course, grizzly bears aren't indigenous to any of those areas, either.