Seattle’s Basketball Name Game

We could do worse than "Hornets."

The SuperSonics may now be the Thunder, but not all NBA teams change names when they change locations. Hence the Lakers of relatively arid Los Angeles and the Jazz of not-so-relatively square Utah. This week, when rumors first started flying that the New Orleans Hornets might soon be Seattle-bound, our first thought was that if the team were to move here, they’d have to do so without the stingy nickname. But it turns out we were very wrong.

“Actually, that would be a very appropriate nickname,” says Washington State University entomologist Steve Sheppard. “Hornets are predatory wasps, and there a ton of ’em in Washington.”

Though Sheppard admitted it would be more fitting to name the team after a different, though similar, insect: the bee. “The Seattle Bees,” he says. “Because honeybees are so important to apple production. And because of all the recent PR.”

When we asked Sheppard what he meant, he talked excitedly about colony collapse, a recent phenomenon threatening the nation’s bee population. But confronted with the conjecture that the subset of people knowledgeable about and excited by colony collapse probably doesn’t overlap with basketball fans, Sheppard admitted it’s been a while since he watched a game.

Excitable entomologists aside, the Hornet/Bee question is probably a moot point, since any team that moves here would be silly not to call itself the SuperSonics. Still, one can dream of a day when Seattle gets its own inappropriately nicknamed basketball team. The Seattle Heat? No, my friend, here they’re known as the Lukewarms.

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