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Nickname Misfits

By Paul Donaldson -- January 28, 2013 8:19 PM EST

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In spirit of the much maligned new nickname of the New Orleans Hornets (the Pelicans), Stadium Journey compiled a top 10 list of nickname misfits which were created by franchise relocations. As a nickname gains strength and turns into a brand, many owners are hesitant to make a change even though they've changed the location of the team and the name no longer makes sense. See if your favorite team made the list below:

1. New Orleans / Utah Jazz - NBA (1979)

If you want to identify a culprit to blame for the selection of "Pelicans" as a new nickname for the New Orleans NBA franchise, point your fingers directly at Utah. New Orleans fell in love with the Jazz nickname and Pistol Pete Maravich in the late 70s. Though the Jazz were born in New Orleans, they only spent only five seasons there largely due to issues securing a home-court. When Utah came calling, the brand built around the name "Jazz" was strong that the name remained. Since then, the question "what's jazzy about Salt Lake City" remains unanswered.

2. Minneapolis / Los Angeles Lakers (1960)

Los Angeles seems to the capital of nickname misfits including the Lakers which were originally named for their location in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes. Though the Lakers brand has never been stronger, Los Angeles isn't exactly known as the land of lakes.

3. Brooklyn / Los Angeles Dodgers (1958)

The Dodgers were originally the affectionate name for the "trolley-dodger" city of Brooklyn. As Major League Baseball stretched to the west coast, the Dodgers packed up from Brooklyn and headed to Los Angeles with a nickname that didn't quite fit in with the City of Angels.

4. Houston / Tennessee Oilers (1997)

We don't recall many oil strikes in the great state of Tennessee, but we do recall in 1997 when the Houston Oilers headed east to Tennessee and retained the Oiler name which personified the rich petroleum industry of the Houston region. After a couple of years, the franchise eventually dropped the oil rig logo and name to become the Titans.

5. San Diego / Los Angeles Clippers (1984)

Originally renamed from the Buffalo Braves (1978) upon relocation to San Diego, the franchise donned the name "Clippers" to represent the boating and sailing found in the San Diego bay region. Though Los Angeles is located on the Pacific coast, we wouldn't exactly argue that the city is famous for boating and sailing.

6. Chicago / St. Louis / Arizona Cardinals (1960/1988)

The Chicago Cardinals were given the nickname of the Illinois state bird and retained the name when moving to St. Louis in 1960. Coincidentally, the name still applied as Missouri's state bird is also the Cardinal. However, one more move by the NFL franchise brought the Cardinals to Arizona. Arizona Cactus Wrens, anyone?

7. Vancouver / Memphis Grizzlies (2001)

Upon relocation from Vancouver, Memphis retained the Grizzly name. Though the eastern side of Tennessee is known for black bears, there aren't any grizzly bears that I'm familiar with in Memphis. Many franchises are named after animals that aren't found in the region, but the Grizzlies were originally named as such due to a large population of the bear species in British Columbia.

8. New York / San Francisco Giants (1958)

The nickname the "Giants" became famous in New York. Legend has it that a general manager for the New York Gothams exclaimed in the locker room after a big win, "My big fellows! My giants!" and the nickname was born. It became so popular that both the baseball and football franchises in New York donned the name. As with the Dodgers, when baseball expanded westward, the Giants left for San Francisco and retained the name that became regionally famous in New York.

9. Minnesota / Dallas (North) Stars (1993)

The North Star nickname was derived from the Minnesota states motto "L'Étoile du Nord", meaning "The Star of the North" in French. Though the relocated Dallas franchise would drop the "North" and retain only the star, the significance of the name was lost in the move.

10. Charlotte / New Orleans Hornets (2002)

Though hornets can be found across North America, the New Orleans area is known for nicknames that closely relate to the region. As the Hornets left Charlotte for New Orleans, keeping the nickname and colors left many in the New Orleans region to feel like they were only renting an NBA franchise.

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