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Top 10 List: Best and Worst Professional Sports Team Names

Top 10 List: Best and Worst Professional Sports Team Names

10 Best Team Nicknames:

  • New York Yankees- Perfect combination of Baseball and American history. The Yankees are probably the world's most well known professional sports franchise.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers- Perfectly embodies the Steel Cities hard work mentality. Perfect example of how a great team name can set the on-field tone for a professional sports team.
  • Minnesota Twins - Named after the "Twin Cities" (Minneapolis-St. Paul), nickname that you certainly won't see twice. Has also become synonymous with playing the game of baseball the right way (Twins' Baseball).
  • Baltimore Ravens- Best post 1990 team name in sports. Named after Baltimore poet Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven". The Ravens' defense strikes fear in opponents much like Poe's poems did in those who read them.
  • San Francisco 49ers - Named after the California gold rush of 1849. Who says you can't put numbers in a team name?
  • Philadelphia Phillies- The oldest standing one-city, one-nickname team in the history of American  professional sports, originally named the "Philadelphias" in 1883, the nickname quickly evolved into the "Phillies" by the late 1880's.
  • Detroit Pistons - Although the American Auto industry is currently going through rough times, "Pistons" is a unique name that perfectly captures the mentality and essence of the "Motor City".
  • Miami Heat - Interesting team name that sounds like a TV drama, it also captures the essence of Miami's weather and night life. Every time I hear the name I think of an elderly couple complaining about the humidity and rowdy college kids, which is precisely why I love the name!
  • Milwaukee Brewers - Perfectly captures the essence of America's beer capital. If not for the success of the cities beer industry, Milwaukee wouldn't any pro sports teams.
  • Boston Celtics - Unique name that tells the story of Boston's Irish roots. The other names Celtics' founder Walter Brown considered were "Olympics", "Unicorns", and "Whirlwinds".

10 Worst Team Nicknames:

  • Charlotte Bobcats - Generic as it gets, I'm pretty sure Bobcats are in every state. The worst part is that they came to be in 2004!
  • Houston Texans- This one makes sense, but they should have gone with "Oilers". The Oilers were one of the most unique names in sports and probably would have made the 10 best nicknames.
  • Oklahoma City Thunder - This one was a real blunder, especially considering they were the Seattle Sonics until to 2008. Seeing as how "thunder" happens in every city, state, and country in the world, it doesn't get anymore generic.
  • Washington Wizards - Creepy name that doesn't make sense. Although the Bullets wasn't much better (name change in 1997).
  • Carolina Hurricanes- Another "wrath of nature" geared name that is generic and named after one of Earth's worst possible natural disasters. Although I imagine it must extremely impossible to think of NHL team names south of the mason-dixon line.
  • Tampa Bay Rays- The worst part is that the original name "Devil Rays" was changed to "Rays". The weird part is how owner Stuart Sternberg described the new name as "a beacon that radiates throughout Tampa Bay and across the entire state of Florida". And here I thought they were still referring to sting rays even after dropping "Devil" from the name.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars - Another unfortunate team nickname courtesy of the 1990's cat craze.
  • Carolina Panthers - Another Cat! "Cat Fancy Magazine" may have been the most influential Sports Magazine of the 90's!
  • Utah Jazz - Great name, wrong state. It sucks when a team doesn't change it's name when it moves from one state to another, especially when Utah is essentially America's leading "anti-Jazz" state. New Orleans deserves this name!
  • Los Angeles Lakers- Like the Jazz, you should be required to change the name of your team when it appears on another state's license plate (Minnesota - Land of 10,000 Lakes). How great would it be if the Timberwolves had the chance to take back the name!
Top 10 List: Best and Worst Professional Sports Team Names  1Making purchases through affiliate links can earn the site a commission
Brett is a former contributor to The Cardboard Connection.

User Comments

Wylie Richardson
Wylie Richardson

What about the Dallas Cowboys? Certainly one of the best team names, as it’s both geographically fitting and evokes a key part of American history.


I take it the author doesn’t like cats very much


Why do you hate on the all the teams from NC the name that describes Charlotte the best and is actually the best name in sports was the name of a team that according to you should have been required to change its name New Orleans Charlotte should be the Hornets and I’m glad they’re changing their name back and the Panthers or the Hurricanes should be something like the Armor or something to give an allusion to Fort Brag* and Camp Lejuene.* Or maybe the Pirates or Blackbeards to allude to NC’s pirates and that past. Or the Miners or something to show NC had the first gold rush in America. Or even since they are the Carolinas then a name inspired by SC like Gamecocks or Swamp Fox or something, even the Rebels or something. Rather than the Panthers or Hurricanes.
*these may be spelt wrong


What about the la clippers? Used to be Baltimore made sense doesn’t in la which has artificial harbor


Even thought they were established in San Diego, I think the Houston Rockets name is one of the coolest in all of sports. Houston is nicknamed the “Space City” because NASA is based there. The city and nickname just fit together so perfectly!


Interesting, I like the article. But there are all kinds of jazz bands in utah, and alot are even kinda good. I’m not sure I see the logic in calling Utah anti-jazz, they support it well enough to deserve the name utah jazz. I’m not sure why that makes people so angry.

@scott: I wasn’t angry, I was being sarcastic. I’m not saying there isn’t Jazz music in Utah by any means, I’m just pointing out that it’s an injustice that the Jazz capital of the world can never have the one team name that best describes the city.


The thing with the Thunder is that, while it does happen everywhere, Oklahoma City does get more severe thunderstorms than most any other place in the world. I live in OKC and am a Thunder fan. The name grows on you, but I wouldn’t have been disappointed if something else was picked.

@j-mo: Yeah, I can see that, it’s sort of like Minnesota Wild. I couldn’t stand it at first then it grew on me. I still think the Timberwolves was a terrible name. The one thing with the “Thunder” is how common a team name it is in sports, but you got Kevin Durant so that is irrelevant. I seriously think they go to the Finals this year

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