In the second installment of Sloganalysis, we turn our attention to the NBA. Like any other league whose teams play upwards of 80 games a year, the NBA tends to suffer from attendance issues from place to place. Most teams have little choice but to deploy some sort of marketing campaign to draw people to the arena, and at the centerpiece of every marketing campaign is a slogan.
Some of these slogans are confident, some are humble, and some are unbelievably terrible. In all, I found 56 recently-used team slogans that fell into one of 11 different categories. I've charted each category below.
Many of the team slogans I found expressed optimism, but only a handful of teams were bold enough to claim that they were gunning for the NBA Championship and/or would beat all comers. Three of these five teams ended up as NBA Champions that year, so hey, it worked! Correlation and causation: synonyms forever.
- 2006-07 Timberwolves
Wait, do people associate the Timberwolves with the color blue? Like they're the Dodgers or something? I never did. Then again, I've spent almost no time actually looking at their logo. If you asked me to draw it from memory, you'd probably end up with, like, a crude sketch of a wolf eating leaves off a bush (what do wolves eat?!??), and a straight green line to represent the ground. There would also be a yellow crayon sun in the upper-right corner.
Passion 4 Purple.
- 2006-07 Kings
I bet you thought the stylizing of "for" as "4" was stupid in 2006, but now we all have iPhones that are easy to text on, and not even the 13-yearoldiest of girls text like this anymore. And this is how a stupid slogan became even stupider with the passage of time.
Not all that bad of a showing here. The Magic were only a year away from reaching the NBA Finals, and while the Rockets, of course, lost in the first round of the playoffs, they played well in the regular season.
Ready To Rise.
- 2008-09 Bucks
If you assemble all the Bucks' slogans together, they're actually just the eHow article on how to bake bread.
Just like their baseball counterparts, NBA teams are fond of this "we're all a team" thing. I meaaaaan ... I get how you could interpret the producer/consumer dynamic as a form of teamwork, but teammates don't hijack each other's tax money or charge each other 11 dollars for a beer. If this is the way you're gonna roll, I'm not really comfortable with you calling me your teammate. I'm just gonna buy your tickets with the same emotional gravitas I feel when I buy Pop-Tarts at the grocery store. Cool? Cool. Good talk, glad we had this talk.
Be Part Of It.
- 2007-08 Sonics
Organized sports are really fun, and then you enter high school and it becomes this exhaustive grind that you couldn't possibly find fulfilling unless there is something fundamentally wrong with you. The kids who stay are total suckers. If you aren't with me on this, I challenge you to walk inside a high school gym or locker room, note all the slogans you see printed on T-shirts or hanging from rafters, and ask yourself what sort of person a slogan like TEAM IS EVERYTHING or WIN IS TEAM or THE ONLY TEAM IS GAME WIN WINNY GAME is targeted at. Yes, while the rest of us are playing backyard football or Goldeneye, you are sprinting your 14th lap around the gym because an employee of the state blew a whistle. Have fun, you poor sucker, and on your 15th lap around, just tell yourself that win is the only game team hustlepride winsport.
(It should be noted that I am kind of joking, but only kind of joking.)
Love The Game.
- 2004-05 Clippers
In all seriousness, though, I kind of dig this slogan. Ideally your team finds success, but absent that, you can just sit back and appreciate the game of basketball in general and/or enjoy the raps of noted hip-hop enthusiast The Game.
Team Is Everything.
- 2007-08 Spurs
Man. The 1990s had rollerblading and laser tag arenas and Michael Buffer and speed and Speed. Adrenaline has to be the most 1990s biochemical ever. (It later fell out of vogue, of course; the most 2000s biochemical was testosterone, and the biochemical of the 2010s is probably spittle.)
The NBA, as in the brand, espouses more style than the rest of the sporting world put together, but even in this league, a few teams have had a tough time letting go of the past. While other teams have moved on, these teams are rocking a Kangol and tracksuit and yelling things like P-P-PUMP IT UP into a (wired!) microphone.
It's A Pure Adrenaline Rush.
- 2007-08 Jazz
The easy route here would be to poke fun at the usage of "adrenaline" and "Utah" in the same sentence, but that would be awfully reductive, and I'm trying to put a cap on that sort of thing these days. I'm sure that Salt Lake City is a fun city full of neat stuff to do, because that's what you can expect of any city of that size. Except for Indianapolis.
Can You Feel It?
- 2008-09 Nuggets
Yep, the Nuggets just straight up bogarted the Spurs' slogan from five years prior. At least it's a terrific slogan! Whew!
Welcome To Planet Orange.
- 2007-08 Suns
SUNS ARE NOT PLANETS
Basketball In The Carolinas.
- 2004-05 Bobcats
I like this. Obviously the NBA has had a team in North Carolina for over 20 years, but even today, it registers with me as a non sequitur when expressed like that. It's like saying "Oregon Blazers" or "Georgia Hawks." I bet the league has had a team in Nebraska since like 1985 and we just haven't processed it yet.
I wasn't able to find complete information on how, exactly, the teams came up with these slogans, but I do know that the 2008-09 Hornets actually hired an ad agency to craft their slogan:
Passion. Purpose. Pride.
It took an ad agency to come up with three alliterative words! Haha, just kidding. IT TOOK TWO AD AGENCIES. I think that there should be an annual holiday in which you are allowed to just walk into ad agents' homes and offices and steal all their shit.
Fifty seasons! That's a pretty big deal. Entering your twenties isn't such a big deal; I mean, it's just a decade full of futons and leases. But at least it's a nice, round number.
20 Years Of Heat.
This lasagna is going to turn out terrible.
I'd like to take this opportunity to give the NBA a ton of credit. Like MLB, it's home to a number of hopeless, floundering franchises. Unlike MLB, these teams will sometimes gut up and say, "yes, we were bad, and now we will try to be better than bad."
- 2008-09 Heat
That looks like a vanity license plate, but it's twice as long as will fit on a license plate. What if two cars drove side-by-side on the highway, each with one half of their slogan on their license plates? Wouldn't that be neat? Absolutely not, but it's probably your average NBA owner's interpretation of "neat."
See What They Can Do.
- 2008-09 Timberwolves
"Huh? You want to watch some basketball? Well, we have all the goals and balls and stuff right here, but we suck pretty bad ... we'll see what we can do. Okay? That's not a 'yes'."
APPLAUSE. Two of these slogans stood out as brutally frank assessments of their teams.
Back To Basics.
- 2010-11 Wizards
It's fun to read this as "Back To Asics" and imagine the Wizards rocking Asics for a season. I bet their spokesman is, like, Chris Gatling.
So! Let's round all these up:
- All in all, an NBA team that uses an official slogan has an average winning percentage of .515. (For baseball teams, it's .480.)
- Super XXXXTreme slogans portend success.
- If teams claim they're going to be good, believe them.
- If teams claim they're terrible, for the love of God, BELIEVE THEM.
For further adventures in Sloganalysis, check out my study on Major League Baseball slogans.