Barkley Hates the Wizards' Name. Do You? Our Take and Your Votes. [Poll] | Wizards Blog Truth About

Barkley Hates the Wizards’ Name. Do You? Our Take and Your Votes. [Poll]

Updated: November 14, 2014

[Photo via Walter Iooss Jr./SI]

[Photo via Walter Iooss Jr./SI]

Charles Barkley says the Wizards’ name is “stupid.” He thinks the team should go back to being the “Bullets.”

And he has some company.

  • Last year, Grantland’s Zach Lowe ranked the Wizards as only the 19th-coolest team name in the league. For comparison, that placed them behind the Hawks (15th), the Kings (11th), and the Pelicans (10th).
  • Grantland’s Local eater Joe House frequently references the franchise as “Washington Professional Basketball Team” or the “Almost Bullets.”
  • And a certain site, through a combination of accident and intent, is helping keep the Bullets brand alive … seventeen years since the name change.

Is Barkley right, or is he being just as dumb as he claims the Washington franchise is acting?

Two TAI writers go head-to-head over the name game.

Dan Diamond (@ddiamond): Keep the ‘Wizards’ around.

I’ll admit it: “The Washington Bullets” was a cool name. It conjures don’t-mess-with-us implications, and almost-as-fast-as-Superman speed. It just feels vintage.

But it’s the wrong name for D.C.

Here’s why.

First, it’s a Baltimore-based name. (Various origin myths have suggested that the “Bullets” were intended to reference the city’s shot tower, or the armory that the team played in, or even a local shoe company.) So every time people complain that the “Wizards” name has no connection to D.C., just ask them: what special connection does “Bullets” fire up? Other than a deadly one.

And that gets to the second reason: The name is violent. Like, no debate on this one. Bullets injure and kill, they aren’t anthropomorphic like half the league’s franchises. I don’t think any other NBA team name comes close.

And finally—don’t forget—that ‘The Bullets’ were a laughingstock for years. The “curse of Les Boulez” hung over the franchise. If you said “Washington Bullets” in the 1990s and early 2000s, you might as well have said “Lottery team.”

Washington finally, finally has a chance to make a name of its own. And the Wizards can be cool, for all the reasons that Zach Lowe teases out. (Unlike the “Magic,” they have agency! Unlike the “Bulls,” they are human! Unlike the “Heat,” they’re not meteorological conditions!) The wordplay is potentially excellent.

And now that the team may be on the edge of a magical season, it’s not time to get stuck in the past—it’s time to look forward. And if you let them, the “Wizards” just might cast a spell on you.

Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace): The ‘Wizards’ have got to go.

If you grew up as a Washington Bullets fan in the 1980s and 1990s, there were two distinct segments of every NBA season: the Washington Bullets regular season and the NBA Playoffs—and never the twain shall meet. Each new Bullets season brought an overwhelming sense of futility and inevitability. Walking up those Capital Centre steps game after game was a Sisyphean effort.

It was like the Bullets were not even a real NBA team. The franchise existed solely to allow transplanted fans of the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls or New York Knicks watch their favorite team twice a year.

It was not until 1996 that I watched a meaningful NBA basketball game with a true rooting interest. And even that experience proved fleeting.

The only positive for fans of the franchise was that the Washington Bullets had one of the best names, best logos and best uniforms in the NBA. You could wear Bullets clothing with a sense of pride.

But with one fell swoop—and an ill-conceived fan voting contest—all that was taken away. The franchise’s greatest attribute was turned into its most embarrassing.

The circumstance surrounding the name change to the Wizards is well-documented. But the justification for the change no longer exists. Even Irene Pollin has blessed a return to the Bullets.

The simple truth is that the name is not offensive. There is not one person who is offended by the name “Bullets.”  You cannot find him/her. Barkley is right. “Wizards” is undeniably a stupid name. “Bullets” is undeniably a great name. The team has already gone as far as it can to erase “Wizards” from the franchise, using “Washington” and “DC” whenever possible. Just take the next logical step, Ted. Don’t be afraid. Nobody will be offended. I promise.  


What do you think?

Dan Diamond on EmailDan Diamond on Twitter
Dan Diamond
Contributor at TAI