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Woody's Winners, NFL Week 3

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NFL WEEK THREE: By my count, seven teams are expected to start a different QB this week than they did just half a month ago on Kickoff Weekend. Some replacements are due to injury, but others are due to poor performance, and Woody thinks it’s a bit early in the season for any NFL team to pull that kind of trigger. As a result, I’ve chosen more upsets than usual this week. Just call me “Wild Woody.”

Woody went 10-6 last week, bringing my season total to 18-14. Here are my predictions for Week 3. Enjoy!

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Buffalo (0-2) @ New England (1-1)

This Sunday in Foxboro, some painted nut will be holding up a sign reading “14!” That’s because the Patriots have dealt the Bills a defeat in 13 consecutive match-ups dating back to 2000. After consulting the Smart Pill Machine, I see no reason why this New England fan should be disappointed.  Muskets in hand, the Minutemen will do their duty in short order, and when it’s all over, the field will be littered with the proverbial stack of paid Bills.

Woody’s Winner: New England

FACT: The Patriots have converted only one of 4 field goal attempts this season.

Click "more" to see my picks for the other 15 NFL games in Week 3.

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Atlanta (1-1) @ New Orleans (2-0)

The last three meetings between these NFC South rivals have been decided by 4, 8, and 3 points, all in favor of the Fleur-de-Lis. The Saints may be tuckered out after close back-to-back wins against the Vikings and 49ers, but they’ll have just enough left to swat away two-and-twenty Blackbirds. Woody’s heart is with the Falcons, but his money is on the defending Super Bowl Champions.

Woody’s Winner (in a close one): New Orleans

FACT: The Falcons defense has held opposing QBs to a league-low 52.9 rating, with no touchdowns, 4 interceptions, and 5 sacks.

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Detroit (0-2) @ Minnesota (0-2)

The Vikes have struggled to an 0-2 start, but there’s no better tonic than playing at home against Detroit. Granted, the Lions have looked better on offense (4 rushing TDs) and defense (10 sacks), but they still have a zero where it counts: in the “win” column. And MGM isn’t hiring. One of these two teams will get their first win of the season on Sunday afternoon, and unless WR Calvin Johnson wakes up, it’ll be the one clad in purple.

Woody’s Winner: Minnesota

FACT: In Week 2 against Philadelphia, Lions RB Jahvid Best hauled in 9 catches for 154 yards.

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Cleveland (0-2) @ Baltimore (1-1)

The success of the Ravens’ franchise has helped many a Baltimorean to forget that those nasty old Colts moved away and left them without a team back in 1984. That success has also caused the “new” Cleveland Browns to turn downright green with envy. This year in northeast Ohio, the Indians had a fire sale, and the Cavaliers lost their marquee player. Now, the Brownies are dealing with an injured QB, an ailing RB, and a seemingly absent set of WRs. They’ll be fortunate to see the far side of the 50-yard-line in Ravenville this Sunday.

Woody’s Winner: Baltimore

FACT: The Ravens defense has held its two 2010 opponents to a combined 4-of-29 on third down.

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Dallas (0-2) @ Houston (2-0)

The Cowboys enjoy a Week 4 bye after this Sunday’s game, and it couldn’t come at a better time. Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the hype about Dallas becoming the first team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium. The hole they’ve dug for themselves is big, too; the Starred Ones are the only winless team in the NFC East. Meanwhile, things are rosy over in Houston, where the franchise won its first overtime game in 8 tries. The Texans won their debut NFL game against America’s Team in 2002, and there’s nothing they’d love more than to repeat that feat in front of their home fans.

Woody’s Winner: Houston

FACT: Through 2 games, Houston is the only NFL team that has yet to fumble the ball.

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San Francisco (0-2) @ Kansas City (2-0)

Frisco was the only undefeated team in the 2010 preseason, but are winless in the regular season thanks to the Saints’ last-second prayer of a FG last week. Coach Mike Singletary not only remained cool and calm in the locker room following the loss, he actually praised his team’s effort. A loss this week would cause his head to explode, which would seriously derail the 49ers chances for a playoff berth… though not all fans would agree with me about that. I’ve incorrectly picked the Chiefs for losses in their first two games. Have I learned my lesson?

Woody’s Winner: San Francisco

FACT: 49er opponents have completed 46 of 61 passes this season, for a 75.4 percent completion rate.

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Tennessee (1-1) @ N.Y. Giants (1-1)

Titans and Giants? The gods must be angry. The Titans’ step back last week had more to do with Pittsburgh’s D than their own O. Coach Jeff Fisher’s decision to bench QB Vince Young threw his players for a loop. By the time they recover, the Big Men from Gotham will be well on their way to a 2-1 record. Too bad the G-Men can no longer dance on Jimmy Hoffa, but no matter. When the final whistle blows, Volunteers may be required to clean up all the Tennessee players left sprawled on the field.

Woody’s Winner: New York

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Pittsburgh (2-0) @ Tampa Bay (2-0)

When my junior high school football coach told me that “defense wins games,” I presumed he said that because I played on the offense. Now I get it; how else could the Bucs be 2-0? Tampa’s cannon should be quiet this Sunday as these undefeated teams struggle to score points. Pittsburgh’s just biding its time until Big Ben’s clock chimes, and a Buccaneer cutlass, well, just won’t cut it in Florida in Week 3.

Woody’s Winner: Pittsburgh

FACT: Despite scoring only 2 TDs in 2 games, the Steelers are undefeated thanks to a defense that is +6 in takeaways/giveaways.

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Cincinnati (1-1) @ Carolina (0-2)

Terrell Owens (sore back) and Chad Ochocinco (cracked rib) further the Batman-and-Robin shtick by nursing injuries at the same time, but both are probable for Sunday’s trip south. Considering Carolina’s QB troubles and injuries to Steve Smith above and below, common sense dictates that the Battle of the Big Cats should end with a Bengals victory over Panthers. A little voice tells me that Carolina might pull an upset, but it might be those White Castles backing up on me. Besides, felines look better in stripes.

Woody’s Winner (in a close one): Cincinnati

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Philadelphia (1-1) @ Jacksonville (1-1)

The Philly brass pulled a flea-flicker on everyone by announcing the “Kolb Era” when their plans apparently centered on Michael Vick all along. Announcing Vick as starter in the preseason would have brought out all his haters, but a minor Week 1 injury to Kevin Kolb gave the Eagles all the excuse they needed. Meanwhile, in Florida, David Garrard (who had an impressive 1-to-49 career interception-to-attempt ratio) was benched last week after throwing 4 INTs in 23 passes. But he’s back in teal, the game is sold out, and the Jaguars will play tough for their faithful. Still…

Woody’s Winner: Philadelphia

FACT: The Eagles have allowed 11 sacks this season, 3 more than any other NFL team.

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Washington (1-1) @ St. Louis (0-2)

The Redskins have played well thus far this season, and are 4-1 in their last five road games against the battered Rams. This week, Washington plays “Meet Me in St. Louis” and should find the blues to be to their liking. DC Power will light up the Gateway Arch, and while Sam Bradford has a few victories ahead of him this season, he’ll have to earn them by suffering through games like this one.

Woody’s Winner: Washington

FACT: The Rams defense leads the NFL with 7 forced fumbles this season.

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Oakland (1-1) @ Arizona (1-1)

The Raiders and Cardinals have even records; both teams earned a victory by beating St. Louis, but both were also blown out against better teams. This week’s matchup promises to be the Darren McFadden/Tim Hightower show, since both defenses are weak against the run. The Redbirds are still smarting after being humiliated in Atlanta, while the Mighty Oaks are looking forward to the possibility of a winning record for the first time since Week 3 of the 2004 season. Good thing footballs are vaguely acorn-shaped.

Woody’s Winner (in an upset): Oakland

FACT: The Raiders are 5-2 all-time against the Cardinals. Since 1973, the teams have met in St. Louis, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Arizona.

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San Diego (1-1) @ Seattle (1-1)

RB Ryan Mathews and WR Malcom Floyd are expected to be out when the Chargers head up the Pacific Coast this weekend. For the Seahawks coaching staff that means extra focus on San Diego’s key remaining weapon, TE Antonio Gates. If the Home of Grunge can hold him in check, it’ll be tough for the visitors to get an approval on their MasterCard. Seattle will eke out a win at home, but luckily for the Bolts, their plane tickets home have already been arranged.

Woody’s Winner (in an upset): Seattle

FACT: The last five match-ups between the Chargers and Seahawks have each been decided by a field goal or less.

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Indianapolis (1-1) @ Denver (1-1)

Most of Denver's injury problems are on the defensive side of the line, notably CBs Champ Bailey and Andre’ Goodman. As a result, the elder Manning should be able to pass at will against the decimated Bronco secondary. And considering how rude he was to his little brother last week on the gridiron, he’ll have no qualms about airing the football out in the thin Mile-High atmosphere. Don’t be surprised if rookie Denver QB Tim Tebow makes an appearance once the Colts lap the Broncos on the racetrack.

Woody’s Winner: Indianapolis

FACT: Last week vs. the Giants, Colts defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis combined for 4 sacks and 3 forced fumbles.

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N.Y. Jets (1-1) @ Miami (2-0)

This Sunday night, the Jets go on the road for the first time this season, facing Miami in the Dolphins’ first home game of 2010. Both teams focus on the rushing game, and both have a pair of capable running backs. Both also have great success against the run, so the victor of this AFC East game may come down to the home field advantage. With this week’s game being in South Florida…

Woody’s Winner: Miami

FACT: The Jets lead the league with 20 penalties for 183 yards in only two games.

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Green Bay (2-0) @ Chicago (2-0)

This Monday Night Football game celebrates the league’s oldest rivalry. It also features the highest-rated QB in the NFL, only it’s not the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, but Chicago’s Jay Cutler. His 121.2 rating though two games is sheer dynamite, and Chicago’s defense will plant TNT all over to try to blow the Pack back to Wisconsin. Green Bay is favored by most, but Woody’s going out on a limb with this one. I like grated cheese on my Chicago Deep Dish.

Woody’s Winner: Chicago

FACT: This season, Chicago’s defense has allowed only 41 yards on 34 carries for a paltry 1.4 yards per rush.

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Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, but please be cordial to others; this is all in good fun. Thanks!

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Big Questions
Why Do Baseball Managers Wear Uniforms?
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Basketball and hockey coaches wear business suits on the sidelines. Football coaches wear team-branded shirts and jackets and often ill-fitting pleated khakis. Why are baseball managers the only guys who wear the same outfit as their players?

According to John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball since 2011, it goes back to the earliest days of the game. Back then, the person known as the manager was the business manager: the guy who kept the books in order and the road trips on schedule. Meanwhile, the guy we call the manager today, the one who arranges the roster and decides when to pull a pitcher, was known as the captain. In addition to managing the team on the field, he was usually also on the team as a player. For many years, the “manager” wore a player’s uniform simply because he was a player. There were also a few captains who didn’t play for the team and stuck to making decisions in the dugout, and they usually wore suits.

With the passing of time, it became less common for the captain to play, and on most teams they took on strictly managerial roles. Instead of suits proliferating throughout America’s dugouts, though, non-playing captains largely hung on to the tradition of wearing a player's uniform. By the early to mid 20th century, wearing the uniform was the norm for managers, with a few notable exceptions. The Philadelphia Athletics’s Connie Mack and the Brooklyn Dodgers’s Burt Shotton continued to wear suits and ties to games long after it fell out of favor (though Shotton sometimes liked to layer a team jacket on top of his street clothes). Once those two retired, it’s been uniforms as far as the eye can see.

The adherence to the uniform among managers in the second half of the 20th century leads some people to think that MLB mandates it, but a look through the official major league rules [PDF] doesn’t turn up much on a manager’s dress. Rule 1.11(a) (1) says that “All players on a team shall wear uniforms identical in color, trim and style, and all players’ uniforms shall include minimal six-inch numbers on their backs" and rule 2.00 states that a coach is a "team member in uniform appointed by the manager to perform such duties as the manager may designate, such as but not limited to acting as base coach."

While Rule 2.00 gives a rundown of the manager’s role and some rules that apply to them, it doesn’t specify that they’re uniformed. Further down, Rule 3.15 says that "No person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home club." Again, nothing about the managers being uniformed.

All that said, Rule 2.00 defines the bench or dugout as “the seating facilities reserved for players, substitutes and other team members in uniform when they are not actively engaged on the playing field," and makes no exceptions for managers or anyone else. While the managers’ duds are never addressed anywhere else, this definition does seem to necessitate, in a roundabout way, that managers wear a uniform—at least if they want to have access to the dugout. And, really, where else would they sit?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Lists
The Origins of All 30 NBA Team Names
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The Hornets were supposed to be the Spirit, while the Grizzlies were almost named the Mounties. Why is a team in Los Angeles nicknamed the Lakers, and what's a team called the Jazz doing in Utah? Here's the story behind the nicknames of all 30 teams.

Atlanta Hawks

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In 1948, the cities of Moline and Rock Island, IL, and Davenport, IA—collectively known as the Tri-Cities at the time—were awarded a team in the National Basketball League. The team was nicknamed the Blackhawks, who, like Chicago's hockey team, were named after the Sauk Indian Chief Black Hawk. When the team moved to Milwaukee in 1951, the nickname was shortened to Hawks. The franchise retained the shortened moniker for subsequent moves to St. Louis and finally Atlanta in 1968.

Boston Celtics

Celtics coach Brad Stevens

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Team owner Walter Brown personally chose Celtics over Whirlwinds, Olympians, and Unicorns (yes, Unicorns) as the nickname for Boston's Basketball Association of America team in 1946. Despite the warnings of one of his publicity staffers, who told Brown, "No team with an Irish name has ever won a damned thing in Boston," Brown liked the winning tradition of the nickname; the New York Celtics were a successful franchise during the 1920s.

Brooklyn Nets

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The New Jersey Americans joined the American Basketball Association in 1967 and moved to New York the following season. The team was renamed the New York Nets, which conveniently rhymed with Jets and Mets, two of the Big Apple's other professional franchises. Before the 1977-78 season, the team returned to New Jersey but kept its nickname. In 1994, the Nets were reportedly considering changing their nickname to the Swamp Dragons to boost its marketing efforts. The franchise relocated to Brooklyn in 2012.

Charlotte Hornets

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The three finalists in the name-the-team contest for Charlotte's 2004 expansion franchise were Bobcats, Dragons, and Flight. Owner Bob Johnson was fond of BOBcats, but some of the league's players were less than impressed. "It sounds like a girls' softball team to me," Steve Kerr told reporters at the time. "I guess it shows there aren't many good nicknames left to be had." Perhaps Kerr was right. Bobcats became the Charlotte Hornets in 2014, reuniting the city with its previous NBA franchise's original nickname.

Where did Hornets come from? In 1987, George Shinn and his ownership group announced that Spirit would be the nickname of Charlotte's prospective expansion franchise. Fans voiced their displeasure, and it didn't help that some fans associated the nickname with the PTL Club, a Charlotte-based evangelical Christian television program that was the subject of an investigative report by the Charlotte Observer for its fundraising activities. Shinn decided to sponsor a name-the-team contest and had fans vote on six finalists. More than 9000 ballots were cast and Hornets won by a landslide, beating out Knights, Cougars, Spirit, Crowns, and Stars. Afterwards, Shinn noted that the nickname had some historical significance; during the Revolutionary War, a British commander reportedly referred to the area around Charlotte as a "hornet’s nest of rebellion."

Chicago Bulls

Chicago Bulls
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According to the Chicago Bulls Encyclopedia, team owner Richard Klein was brainstorming nicknames for his new franchise in 1966 and wanted a name that portrayed Chicago's status as the meat capital of the world. Another theory is that Klein admired the strength and toughness of bulls. Klein was considering Matadors and Toreadors when his young son exclaimed, "Dad, that's a bunch of bull!" The rest is somewhat dubious history.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Lebron and Wade
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Fans voted Cavaliers the team nickname in 1970 in a poll conducted by the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. The other finalists included Jays, Foresters, Towers, and Presidents. The Presidents nickname was presumably an allusion to the fact that seven former U.S. Presidents were born in Ohio, second only to Virginia. Jerry Tomko, who suggested Cavaliers in the contest, wrote, "Cavaliers represent a group of daring fearless men, whose life pact was never surrender, no matter what the odds." (Tomko's son, Brett, went on to become a Major League pitcher.)

Dallas Mavericks

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A Dallas radio station sponsored a name-the-team contest and recommended the finalists to team owner Donald Carter, who ultimately chose Mavericks over Wranglers and Express. The 41 fans who suggested Mavericks each won a pair of tickets to the season opener and one of those fans, Carla Springer, won a drawing for season tickets. Springer, a freelance writer, said the nickname "represents the independent, flamboyant style of the Dallas people." That's certainly an apt description for current team owner Mark Cuban.

Denver Nuggets

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Denver's ABA team was originally known as the Rockets. When the team was preparing to move to the NBA in 1974, they needed a new nickname, as Rockets was already claimed by the franchise in Houston. Nuggets, an allusion to the city's mining tradition and the Colorado Gold Rush during the late 1850s and early 1860s, was chosen via a name-the-team contest.

Detroit Pistons

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The Pistons trace their roots to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where they were known as the Zollner Pistons. What's a Zollner Piston? A piston manufactured by then-team owner Fred Zollner, who named the club after his personal business. When the team moved to Detroit in 1957, Zollner dropped his name from the nickname but retained Pistons. The name was fitting for the Motor City.

Golden State Warriors

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The Philadelphia Warriors, named after the 1920s team that played in the American Basketball League, won the championship in the inaugural 1946-47 season of the Basketball Association of America. The Warriors moved from Philadelphia to San Francisco after the 1961-62 season and retained their nickname. When the team relocated across the Bay to Oakland in 1971, they were renamed the Golden State Warriors.

Houston Rockets

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The Houston Rockets originally called San Diego home. Rockets was chosen via a name-the-team contest and was a reference to the city's theme, "A City In Motion." Liquid-fueled Atlas rockets were also being manufactured in San Diego. When the team moved to Houston in 1971, it made perfectly good sense to keep the name, as Houston was home to a NASA space center.

Indiana Pacers

Indiana Pacers
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According to Michael Leo Donovan's book on team nicknames, Yankees to Fighting Irish: What's Behind Your Favorite Team's Name, the Pacers' nickname was decided upon in 1967 by the team's original investors, including attorney Richard Tinkham. The nickname is a reference to Indiana's rich harness and auto racing history. Pacing describes one of the main gaits for harness racing, while pace cars are used for auto races, such as the Indianapolis 500.

Los Angeles Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers
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When the NBA's Buffalo Braves moved to San Diego in 1978, the owners wanted to rebrand the team with a new nickname. They settled on Clippers, a popular type of ship during the 19th century. San Diego had been home to the Conquistadors/Sails of the ABA during the 1970s. Donald Sterling bought the Clippers during the 1981-82 season and relocated them to his native Los Angeles in 1984. He lost all respect in San Diego but kept the Clippers name.

Los Angeles Lakers

Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers
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How many natural lakes are there in Los Angeles? The short answer: Less than 10,000. When a pair of investors relocated the Detroit Gems of the National Basketball League to Minneapolis before the 1947 season, they sought a name that would ring true with the team's new home. Given that Minnesota is "The Land of 10,000 Lakes," they settled on Lakers. When the Lakers moved to Los Angeles before the 1960 season, their nickname was retained, in part because of the tradition the team had established in Minnesota.

Memphis Grizzlies

Marc Gasol
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When Vancouver was awarded an expansion franchise in 1994 to begin play the following season, the team's owners had tentative plans to name the team the Mounties. The Royal Mounted Canadian Police and fans alike objected, so team officials resumed their search for a name. The local newspaper sponsored a name-the-team contest, which club officials monitored before choosing Grizzlies, an indigenous species to the area, over Ravens. When the team relocated to Memphis before the 2001-02 season, FedEx was prepared to offer the Grizzlies $100 million to rename the team the Express, but the NBA rejected the proposal.

Miami Heat

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In October 1986, the owners of Miami's expansion franchise selected Stephanie Freed's Heat submission from more than 20,000 entries, which also included Sharks, Tornadoes, Beaches, and Barracudas.

Milwaukee Bucks

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Despite Wisconsin’s hunting tradition, the most popular entry in the contest to name Milwaukee’s NBA franchise wasn’t Bucks. It was Robins. The judges overruled the public and decided on a more indigenous (and much stronger) name. The choice could have been much worse: Skunks was among the other entries.

Minnesota Timberwolves

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The ownership group for Minnesota's prospective franchise chose Timberwolves through a name-the-team contest in 1986. The nickname beat out Polars by a 2-1 margin in the final vote, which was conducted in 333 of the state's 842 city councils. Tim Pope, who was one of the first fans to nominate Timberwolves, won a trip to the NBA All-Star Game. Pope submitted 10 nicknames in all, including Gun Flints. "I thought a two-word name would win," he told a reporter. The most popular entry in the contest was Blizzard, but the team wanted a nickname that was more unique to its home state. "Minnesota is the only state in the lower 48 with free-roaming packs of timber wolves," a team official said.

New Orleans Pelicans

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Soon after Tom Benson purchased the New Orleans Hornets in 2012, the team announced they were going to change their name. According to Yahoo's Marc J. Spears, they "considered the nicknames Krewe (groups of costumed paraders in the annual Mardi Gras carnival in New Orleans) and Brass," but settled on Pelicans—after the brown pelican, Louisiana's state bird.

New York Knicks

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The term "Knickerbockers" referred specifically to pants rolled up just below the knee by Dutch settlers in the New World during the 1600s. Many of these settlers found homes in and around New York City, where a cartoon drawing of Father Knickerbocker became a prominent symbol of the city. In 1845, baseball's first organized team was nicknamed the Knickerbocker Nine and the name was evoked again in 1946 when New York was granted a franchise in the Basketball Association of America. Team founder Ned Irish reportedly made the decision to call the team the Knickerbockers—supposedly after pulling the name out of a hat.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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When the Seattle SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season, fans voted on potential nicknames from an original list of 64 possibilities. Thunder was chosen over Renegades, Twisters, and Barons, and the name was extremely well received. The team set sales records for the first day after the nickname was revealed. "There's just all kinds of good thunder images and thoughts, and the in-game experience of Thunder," team chairman Clay Bennett told reporters. The SuperSonics had been named for the Supersonic Transport (SST) project, which had been awarded to Boeing. The company has a large plant in the Seattle area.

Orlando Magic

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When the Orlando Sentinel sponsored a name-the-team contest for Orlando's prospective expansion franchise, Challengers—an allusion to the space shuttle that crashed in 1986—was the most popular suggestion. Other entries included Floridians, Juice, Orbits, Astronauts, Aquamen, and Sentinels, but the panel of judges, including Orlando team officials who reviewed the suggestions, decided to go with Magic. The name is an obvious nod to the tourism-rich city's main attraction, Disney World.

Philadelphia 76ers

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The Syracuse Nationals were relocated to the City of Brotherly Love in 1963 and the team was renamed the 76ers, an allusion to the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia in 1776.

Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns
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General manager Jerry Colangelo, only 28 at the time, settled on a name for his expansion franchise using a name-the-team contest in 1968. Colangelo chose Suns over Scorpions, Rattlers, and Thunderbirds, among the other suggestions included in the 28,000 entries. One lucky fan won $1,000 and season tickets as part of the contest, which included such obscure entries as White Wing Doves, Sun Lovers, Poobahs, Dudes, and Cactus Giants.

Portland Trail Blazers

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In 1970, Portland was granted an expansion franchise in the NBA and team officials announced a name-the-team contest. Of the more than 10,000 entries, Pioneers was the most popular, but was ruled out because nearby Lewis & Clark College was already using the nickname. Another popular entry was Trail Blazers, whose logo is supposed to represent five players on one team playing against five players from another team.

Sacramento Kings

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The Kings' royal lineage stretches all the way back to the founding of the National Basketball League's Rochester Royals in 1945. The Royals retained their nickname after a move to Cincinnati in 1957 and became the Kansas City-Omaha Kings (soon dropping the Omaha) through a name-the-team contest in 1972. The name remained unchanged when the franchise relocated to California in 1985.

San Antonio Spurs

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A group of San Antonio investors purchased the Dallas Chaparrals from the American Basketball Association in 1973 and decided to hold a public contest to rename the team. Five thousand entries with over 500 names were submitted. After reconsidering their first decision to call the team the Aztecs (several teams already used that name), the judges (investors and local press representatives) settled on Spurs. It may have just been a coincidence that one of the team's main investors, Red McCombs, was born in Spur, Texas.

Toronto Raptors

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The ownership group of Toronto's prospective expansion team conducted extensive marketing research across Canada in 1994 and held a nationwide vote that helped team officials come up with a list of potential nicknames. Raptors, which Jurassic Park helped popularize the year before, was eventually chosen over runners-up Bobcats and Dragons.

Utah Jazz

Quin Snyder, Utah Jazz
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No, Utah isn't known for its Jazz. The team originated in New Orleans in 1974 and club officials decided to keep the name after relocating to Salt Lake City in 1979. The Jazz nickname was originally chosen through a name-the-team contest, which produced seven other finalists: Dukes, Crescents, Pilots, Cajuns, Blues, Deltas, and Knights. Deltas would've translated to Salt Lake City rather well (the airline of the same name has a hub there), while Cajuns may have been even worse than Jazz.

Washington Wizards

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In the early 1990s, Washington Bullets owner Abe Pollin was becoming frustrated with the association of his team's nickname and gun violence. After Pollin's friend, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated, Pollin decided to take action and announced his plans to rename the team. (Though Dan Steinberg of D.C. Sports Bog wrote a very detailed history of the name change, and called into question the impact Rabin's death had on the decision.)

A name-the-team contest was held and fans voted on a list of finalists that included Wizards, Dragons, Express, Stallions, and Sea Dogs. Not long after Wizards was announced as the winning name before the 1997-98 season, the local NAACP chapter president complained that the nickname carried Ku Klux Klan associations. Previous nicknames for the franchise when they were still in Chicago include Packers and Zephyrs.

This post was originally published in 2009.

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