The promise shown by Oklahoma City’s young talent nucleus (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green and, possibly, James Harden) combined with the ongoing outrage aimed at team owner Clay Bennett for hijacking the franchise from Seattle has, for the most part, moved the comedy of errors that is the team’s name and logo to the backburner.
Let’s start with the name. Obviously, nonplural sports team names are dumb. The Jazz are probably the closest to not being cringe-inducing, but it’s still unpalatable to say. Even worse is reading the variation in subject/verb agreement when nonplural teams are discussed in written form. Logically, the Jazz, Heat and Magic should all be treated as plural nouns just like the Celtics, Lakers and Bulls. By the rationale of context, they should become like deer, moose or fish in that the singular and plural forms are the same word. “The Magic ARE on a four-game win streak,” for instance, not “The Magic IS on a four-game win streak.” Still, two decades after Orlando and Miami entered the League, there is no consistency, and you will see the names handled differently depending on the publication.
Moreover, even for a nonplural, the name Thunder is just weak. Dogs and 12-year-old girls are the only things scared of thunder. Lighting is a little scary, sure. It can kill you. But loud noises are not intimidating. There are certainly thousands of other nouns that Oklahoma City could have chosen that would have been better, but, for my money, the Oklahoma City Outlaws would have been the ideal choice.
See, the only two things Oklahoma is widely known for is being the title of a simple musical I was forced to watch in elementary school and being the nickname for the notorious gunslinger The Oklahoma Kid, who was played by bonafide tough guy James Cagney in the 1939 film of the same name. (It should be noted that legendary badass Humprey Bogart starred in the film as well.) Throw in the alliteration benefit and calling a team the Oklahoma City Outlaws is a no-brainer.
Then all you have to do to have a great new franchise is steal the phenomenal Arizona Outlaws logo from the defunct USFL. But that would have been way too easy, I guess. Instead, the powers that be in OKC opted for a lame name and a logo that looks more fitting of an internet browser. Or worse, a WNBA team.
This doesn’t belong on a jersey. It belongs on a KFC Famous Bowl.