As announced months ago, the Orlando Magic’s NBADL affiliate, the Erie BayHawks, will be relocating to the Lakeland Center in Lakeland, Florida after the conclusion of the 2016-17 NBADL season. The relocation to move close-by to Orlando also comes with a complete rebranding of the NBADL franchise. That, of course, requires a new team name to trudge forth with.
Picking a team moniker is both an arduous endeavor and a tremendously vital task to fulfill well. Pick a standard predatory animal or romanticized occupation as a moniker, such as Lions or Cowboys, and a team risks an anonymity disadvantage in its marketing plans. No, the upcoming NBADL expansion teams and the Lakeland NBADL team should take heed to stand out in the crowd.
The Erie BayHawks did well enough by cementing the word “Bay” to the standard Hawks moniker in order to identify strongly with the Erie lake region. Raptors 905 did brilliantly to embrace the Toronto area community by representing its home area code. Fort Wayne may be a town that few would realize off the name to be a municipality of Indiana but few can hear Mad Ants and not automatically bring up the NBADL’s own Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Plus, anyone who has accidentally contacted an anthill of mercurial ants would know how intimidating and mildly threatening Mad Ants truly are.
No more replicating the NBA parent franchises’ monikers out of convenience! Here are some suggestions to kick off the former Erie BayHawks on the right track in Lakeland.
If the Orlando Magic organization wishes to pay homage to the Lakeland area and its specific qualities while collecting some useful sponsorship coins, the Lakeland Publix should service consumers from 2017 onward.
For those out of the know, Lakeland houses the Publix supermarket chain headquarters. Now, supermarkets tend not to be among the first 233 concepts that strike fear in hearts. However, if one thinks deeper, one would recall how dreaded checkout lines in supermarkets often are, especially when folks get passes for overshooting the 10 items or less line.
Now, the CBA likely wouldn’t allow blatant Publix logos all over the Lakeland franchise. That’s what the next CBA is for. Still, the Publix moniker doesn’t have to explicitly refer to the supermarket chain. Abstract monikers such as the Heat, Blue, Jazz, & Thunder have long been staples in professional basketball. Why not let Lakeland represent the mysteriously intriguing abstraction of “publics”? The malleability of what “publics” actually are will draw curious new spectators in itself. The “x” instead of “cs” just makes the team look cooler in a 90s retro sort of way.
A mascot of a cornucopia or a grey city building might be ideal here.
NBADL affiliates of NBA franchises have a large tendency to base their team monikers similarly to the monikers of the parent teams. The Greensboro Swarm has clear roots from the Charlotte Hornets parent. The Grand Rapid Drive and Detroit Pistons both pay homage to Michigan’s automobile industry history. The Delaware 87ers name plays off the Philadelphia 76ers.
Now, Orlando could decide on the Lakeland White Rabbits, Lakeland Wands, Lakeland Houdinis, & Lakeland Fantasy (Fanta Sea for a sponsorship bonus). Or Orlando could go farther out of the box while simultaneously glorifying NBA history by having its NBADL affiliate go as the Lakeland Earvins.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson may have been a career-long Los Angeles Laker but his impact in the game of basketball transcends a single professional team. If there was another legend to follow Michael Jordan’s footsteps in getting his jersey retired by seemingly unrelated teams, it would be the loveable Magic Johnson. As the Lakeland Earvins, Johnson ensures his unique standing as a basketball icon while Orlando, hopefully, earns itself a new & wealthy franchise ambassador in Mr. Johnson. Helping to run the Dodgers shouldn’t take too much time away from Johnson’s Lakeland duties.
The mascot doesn’t even have to be a potentially problematic costume replica of Earvin “Magic” Johnson but just a pearly white set of teeth to replicate Johnson’s brilliant, iconic grin.
In all honesty, this would seem to be the more likely new moniker than the Publix and Earvins. It would take less explaining and less controversy. Plus, Florida is more identifiable than the small city of Lakeland to most Americans. A less ambitious pick, of course, and ambition should be encouraged. But the name Florida Shine might suffice. The Shine moniker also creates an instant rivalry with the Northern Arizona Suns based on solar-themed marketing. Of note, making a costume out of UV rays would be much more difficult than a costume of Magic Johnson’s smile or a cornucopia.