I, like many of you, have been disappointed with Ted Leonsis' reluctance to consider renaming the team and was dismayed to hear a front office representative recently announce that the issue was mostly dead
. Like it or not, we live in an era of political correctness. Abe Pollin cemented the "Bullets" connotation as one associated with gun violence
when he announced the name change. GunGate only furthered this, making the change back to Bullets even more complicated. Perhaps more confusing is that the front office considers the name offensive, yet sells Bullets gear in the team store, brings back Bullets alums, and gives away replica Bullets championship rings at the same time. If the name was that bad
, wouldn't you try to avoid it at all costs
rather than coyly trying to wring a few bucks from it when convenient?
So yeah, Monumental Sports is full of it, and is obviously either scared or too cheap to invest in the upfront costs
that come along with any wholesale rebranding. Meanwhile we are stuck with the worst nickname in the history of pro sports ever
, and it's a name that isn't even unique
as it's shared with MLS' Kansas City and the now defunct D-League Dakota Wizards. I hate the contrived alliteration of "Washington Wizards
" with the same fervor I typically reserve for Beltway traffic. It's corny, was obviously geared to appeal to tweens rather than serious fans, and worst of all, it just sounds awful when you say it. It rolls off the tongue in a manner that suggests MoCo youth league, not one of 30 franchises in the greatest basketball league on earth. It's gotta go, and Bullets must replace it.
a marketing and public relations professional, I merely play one on the Internet. And I'm convinced Monumental Sports can get us our awesome name back by doing the following:
Change The "Bullets" Connotation!
- People associate bullets with violence, but the original Baltimore Bullets moniker was actually an allusion to the players' "explosive talents and speed".
Of course, that excuse sounds hella flimsy in 2013, so why not change the Bullets connotation to mean someone entirely different? My idea: Trains. Many still think Bullets refers to high speed Bullet Trains that once ran from Baltimore to Boston, so why not double down on this concept? Incorporate a train into the primary logo (But don't put this anywhere on the uniform! Change the home wordmark to Bullets and the current uni kit is awesome as-is). Make the mascot a comical, bumbling engineer. Roll out the new name change at Union Station, with some shameless tie in to Amtrak. Why not throw in Thomas the Tank Engine? Go overboard with this. The entire goal is to change what people immediately think of when they hear the term "Washington Bullets".
If you think this is silly, consider the name "Golden State Warriors
". Do you associate this with flashy basketball players or native Americans? It's probably the latter since that team was wise enough to strip it's logo of any such imagery loooong ago
. Nobody ever lumps GSW in with the Indians, Braves, or Redskins for that very reason. Bullets could be stripped of the gun violence connotation in the same manner.
Get In Front Of The Inevitable PR Issue!
- While nobody cares about our franchise beyond the hard core fans here in the DC area, the moment the name change is announced this issue will become a political football
played out night after night on cable news shows. So the team will need to be smart about this, realizing the potential pitfalls. Have Leonsis write an op-Ed explaining the new connotation and make sure that op-ed mentions the term "train" aboit 5,000 times. Announce the name change during with the NBA Finals or training camp when there already is plenty of other sports news to fill the airwaves. Don't do this in the dead of summer under any circumstances, for obvious reasons. And by all means, flash that train centric primary logo so often that anyone who makes this a gun violence issue ends up getting clowned with the Jon Stewart treatment. Control the narrative!
Pay Some People Off
- When in doubt, whip it out. The checkbook that is. Donate money to local gun violence advocacy groups in advance of the announcement
to show that you care about the community. Make sure these groups will go to bat for you if need be. Don't be clumsy about this.
Make Sure You Don't Have Any Unsavory Players On The Roster
- Drafting or signing some numbskull with a past firearms charge would turn your best laid plans into late night talk show fodder. Dot all your i's, cross all your t's.
Don't Buckle Under Political Pressure
- Insist that the name is about trains, regardless of what detractors might otherwise suggest. Announce the change and a definitive date (ie: the next season) for the change. Don't drag your feet or deliberate. Don't allow the NRA and/or victims of violent crime to turn this into a protest. It's about high speed trains you morons. Weather whatever initial PR storm occurs, knowing that news cycles change quickly. Don't back down, because people have a fairly short attention span. Move forward with the renaming, regardless of what anyone says.
Ultimately, this comes down to a matter of courage for Ted Leonsis. If he thinks it's worth the trouble, he'll do it. If he doesn't (which seems to be the case to date), I suspect fans like you and me will be having this very same debate for years to come.
And wincing as we say the words "Washington Wizards".
This represents the view of the user who wrote the FanPost, and not the entire Bullets Forever community. We're a place of many opinions, not just one.