What if all expansion franchises were named after movies?

If the Hornets can change their name, why can't the NBA's most embarrassingly named franchise, the Raptors? Robert Wheel delves into what would happen if every team had been as shortsighted as the Raptors and named themselves after a top-grossing movie.

Last week David Roth brought up an excellent point at VICE: the Raptors have the worst mascot in sports (non-racist division). That got me thinking, what would happen if teams in the three major sports (call me when you have a season, NHL) named their teams after tropes or motifs from popular movies at the time?

The Raptors debuted in 1995 but Jurassic Park was released in 1993; there is a bit of a lag time because it takes a while for a team to start playing once it is formed. So I looked at the most popular movies from two years prior to these expansion moves (post-1960 because I'm not a goddamn film historian).


Most popular films of 1959: Ben-Hur and North by Northwest

Expansion teams in 1961: The Texas Chariots and the Los Angeles Biplanes of Anaheim

Hey, these aren't so bad! Chariots and Biplanes are nice and fight-y.

Most popular films of 1960: Spartacus and Psycho

Expansion teams in 1962: The New York Gladiators and the Houston Stabbers

One home run and one strike out (get it? because they're baseball teams.). Also I bet those fascists at the FOP wouldn't like a team named Stabbers.


(All graphics from @LSUFreek, who's a goddamn warrior-poet sent from the future)

Most popular films of 1967: The Graduate, The Jungle Book, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and Bonnie and Clyde

Expansion teams in 1969: The Montreal Plastics, the San Diego Dancing Bears, Seattle (later Milwaukee) Black Boyfriends and the Kansas City Outlaws

We're all over the place on this one. Still, it'd be fun to have a group called the Plastics 35 years before Mean Girls.

Most popular films of 1975: Jaws and The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Expansion teams in 1977: The Toronto Sharks and the Seattle Crossdressers

Have you ever been to a Halloween screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show? This would make baseball games way more fun.

Most popular films of 1991: Terminator 2 and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Expansion teams in 1993: The Colorado Death Robots and the Florida Bad Accents

Best get on Skynet's good side while you can.

Most popular films of 1996: Independence Day and Twister

Expansion teams in 1998: The Tampa Bay Spaceships and the Arizona Tornados

"Welcome to Tampa Bay!" doesn't have the same ring as "Welcome to Earf!"



Most popular films of 1964: My Fair Lady and Goldfinger

Expansion teams in 1966: The Atlanta Cockneys and the Miami Assassins

I have seen one of these movies and I had to look the other one up on Wikipedia for ideas. Guess which is which.

Most popular film of 1965: The Sound of Music

Expansion teams in 1967: The New Orleans Nazi Haters

Hey, a name that holds up!

Most popular film of 1966: The Bible: In The Beginning

Expansion teams in 1968: The Cincinnati Gods

Cincy is a pretty churchy town but even then this is pressing it. Also, they might run into some Fourth Commandment issues.

Most popular films of 1974: Blazing Saddles and The Towering Inferno

Expansion teams in 1976: The Seattle Beans and the Tampa Bay Buildings

"Excuse me while I whip this ball down the field," yeah these don't work.

Most popular films of 1993 (non-Jurassic Park): Mrs. Doubtfire and The Fugitive

Expansion teams in 1995: The Jacksonville Crossdressers and the Carolina One-Armed Men

So in my alternate reality we don't have teams in two leagues named the Rangers but we do have teams in two leagues named the Crossdressers. America knows what it likes. Also, they should have been the Carolina One-Armed Men during the Delhomme era.


Most popular film of 1994: The Lion King

Expansion team in 1996: The Baltimore Scars

FACT: Jeremy Irons is the star of every movie that he's in.

Most popular film of 2000: Mission Impossible: II

Expansion team in 2002: The Houston Spies

Still better than the Texans.


Note: I only did this for teams that joined after 1970 because there was a ton of expansion in the '60s and you don't want me naming teams after Doctor Zhivago.

Most popular films of 1968: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Funny Girl and The Love Bug

Expansion teams in 1970: The Cleveland Hals, the San Diego Streisands and the Portland Beetles.

And once the Streisands move to L.A., Billy Crystal will go to all their games!

Most popular film of 1972: The Godfather

Expansion team in 1974: The New Orleans Mafia

Three 6 Mafia > The New Orleans Mafia > The Utah Mafia.


Most popular film of 1978: Grease

Expansion team in 1980: The Dallas Beauty School Dropouts

Don't worry, Dallas Beauty School Dropouts eventually become Dallas Widows To Wealthy Oilmen.


Most popular films of 1986: Top Gun and Crocodile Dundee

Expansion teams in 1988: The Miami Wingmen and Charlotte Knives

And if they were the New Orleans Knives now they wouldn't have to change their name unless some liberal do-gooder made them.

Most popular films of 1987: Three Men and a Baby and Fatal Attraction

Expansion teams in 1989: The Orlando Infants and the Minnesota Rabbits

I didn't think you could get any worse than "the Magic" but that's pretty close.

Most popular films of 1993: Jurassic Park and The Firm*

Expansion teams in 1995: The Toronto Lawyers and the Vancouver Other Lawyers

Remember how the dinosaur ate the lawyer in Jurassic Park? Highlight of the movie.

Most popular film of 2002: One of the Lord of the Rings ones

Expansion teams in 2004: The Charlotte Hobbits

Hey! Say it fast enough and you can barely tell the difference.

*The fifth-highest grossing movie of the year. I already used Mrs. Doubtfire and The Fugitive and the fourth highest-grossing film in 1993 was actually Schindler's List but NOOOOOPE, not touching that.

Well, we got some mixed results here, but I think in the end we can come up with a pretty ironclad rule. Don't name your team after a movie.

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