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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

How The Wizards Ended Up With The Worst Team Name In Sports

Illustration by Sam Woolley | Photo: AP Images
Illustration by Sam Woolley | Photo: AP Images
FunbagTime for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag.

Your letters:


The Washington Wizards have the lamest name in sports, correct? I was an 8-year-old boy in D.C. when they made the switch and even I, the demographic they must have been targeting, thought it was stupid... and continue to think that. Don’t get me wrong, I love the team - but I genuinely believe the name alone influenced fans (and players?) to respect the franchise less. My father refused to call them anything other than the Bullets until just recently.


They do indeed, even when you factor in the Utah Jazz, who have by far the most incongruous nickname ever. But the nickname “Jazz” itself is still pretty awesome, even when the team in question consists of Gordon Hayward in a Maroon 5 haircut playing in front 15,000 extras from the set of Village of the Damned. The Wizards are still lamer, especially given the fact that they just let Kelly Olynyk blow them out of the building. Kelly fucking Olynyk. So glad Boston found itself yet another white folk hero. That crowd was ELATED that Head Shop Delly came to prominence in front of them. I’m fucking repulsed.

Anyway, it’s worth hopping into the wayback machine to remind all you MILLENNIALS in the audience how the Wizards name came to be. This old post from the invaluable Dan Steinberg teases out the history behind the change. Basically, former owner Abe Pollin said he decided to change the name from Bullets after attending the funeral of friend and former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated in 1995. But in fact, Pollin had been considering the name change months prior to that, supposedly out of sensitivity to gun violence in the District, but perhaps also because Bullets merch sales were in the shitter. So the franchise teamed up with Boston Market (juh?) and held a contest where fans could send in submissions for a new name. (FUN FACT: One of the submissions was Ravens.) From that list of over 3,000 proposed names, Pollin and the team narrowed it down to five finalists. And, I shit you not, these were the five “best” choices:

Sea Dogs, Express, Stallions, Dragons, and Wizards.

Look at that list again and despair. There are an infinite number of regionally specific nicknames that you could give a DC sports team, and yet…Sea Dogs. Jesus. Anyway, fans were invited to vote on the finalists by calling a 900 number that charged you a dollar (proceeds went to charity, but still), and the nickname Wizards “won” even though Pollin never formally disclosed the voting tally. It’s easy to put on your truthering hat and believe that Pollin had no interest in naming the franchise anything other than Wizards, and essentially rigged the vote by offering four other choices that were somehow worse and then picking Wizards regardless of the poll result. Here was how Pollin justified the name after the change was made official:

“It’s someone who can do things,” Pollin said. “It’s magic, flamboyant, smart and a winner. All those things connote a winner. Once we get the new logo and uniform and colors it’ll be fantastic. The NBA has very creative people.”


It’s impossible to not read that in the Trump voice. If “someone who can do things” is the baseline for what you look for in a mascot, they may as well have named this team the fucking Line Cooks or something.

By the way, the NBA has a higher concentration of awful team nicknames than any other pro sport, and I say that even knowing that the Houston Texans still exist. I mean, who’s gonna take the Toronto Raptors seriously when they’re named the Toronto Raptors? You are dooming yourself to an eternity of second round exits any time you give your team some shitty cartoon name like Raptors.


Ya, yah, yea, or yeah?

YEAH! “Ya” and “Yah” are Minnesota greetings, and “Yea” is pronounced YAY, as in “Yea or Nay”. That leaves “Yeah” as the definitive casual affirmation. I don’t think I’ve said “Yes” in, like, 10 years. “Yeah” does all my heaving lifting these days.



I think the majority of folks think Cool Ranch Doritos are the best Doritos, and yet, you don’t see ranch flavoring on any other chips. The Ranch Fritos are really hard to find and I don’t think I’ve ever seen ranch flavored potato chips (maybe Pringles, but those are technically potato crisps). Do you think Big Chip hasn’t been able to make good tasting ranch potato chips, or do they just admit defeat to Doritos having the superior product?


There are ranch potato chips if you look around hard enough. But you rarely see them in bulk on grocery store shelves, and that’s no accident. That is the result of BIG CHIP testing 500 different varieties of beta ranch chip and serving them to focus groups all across the globe and coming to the inevitable conclusion that when people want ranch flavoring, they prefer it in Dorito form. Certain chips have domain over certain flavorings, which is why you never see salt & vinegar Doritos or nacho cheese Tostitos.

Marketers follow consumer preferences, which is how you end up with certain tastes becoming set in stone from store to store and town to town. Chips aside, this is actually a shitty thing because it discourages companies from trying something new and risking having a product flop. The only way consumers roundly approve of new things is if they’ve already tried them and liked them. Safe choices dominate. This is why movies are now terrible.


(Please note that the Ranch Fritos are extremely tasty, as are ranch pretzel pieces, which have roughly 5,982g of sodium per ¼ cup).


I get emails with “Thank you!” all the time, and it got me wondering when is the right time to use exclamation points in emails. I think it would be alright among inter-office messages and friends than to outside professionals. Whenever I get an email from an outside email address with “THANKS!” it always makes me suspicious... Are you really that cheerful at work? Do you enjoy your job that much? Because no reasonable human should be that excited about their 9-to-5. THANKS!


I actually use them more the less I know the person I’m emailing. If I’m emailing a friend, I can just sign off with GO FUCK YOURSELF and have that be a normal thing. But if I’m dealing with someone who I barely know—random people at work, PTA members, the plumber, etc.—I am always, by rule, nicer and more courteous than is probably necessary. I do the THANKS! thing because I don’t want there to be any doubt about my appreciation for their efforts (no matter how meager), and I don’t want there to be any question as to whether or not I’m being sarcastic. You never want to give people a reason to think you’re a cock, which is why I overcompensate to a hilarious degree. “Thanks for sending me that link!”

I also use exclamation points anytime I am sent a picture of something/someone that is cute. Like if you send me a photo of your kid, I will definitely text back “SO CUTE!” as a courtesy. I’m not above the everyday, Facebook-style exchange of mutual adoration.


By the way, I’ve had to email my kid’s teacher a few times and it’s a supremely daunting experience. I can’t even imagine how many emails from deranged parents these teachers get, so whenever I have to email a teacher, I’m so formal that I basically sound like I’m composing a letter to President McKinley. “Dear ma’am, I am writing to you on the matter of my dearest son, who was found to have been standing on the communal latrine not but five days forthwith.” One time I sent the teacher an email with an error in it and I had to write a SECOND email, which pained me. “OMG so sorry. A THOUSAND PARDONS. Summon the lash for me as I have committed the most egregious of sins. Please ignore previous email.”


I work in a correctional facility and one of the “perks” of working there is that they provide lunch seeing as how you can’t leave the facility during your shift. But the thing is, the food is prepared by inmates. I’m a relatively new employee and the staff seems to be divided in to two camps. The “Fuck it, it’s free” people and the “Fuck no” people. I’m still on the fence. Would you eat it?


No. I mean, if you don’t have to eat prison food, you should probably avoid eating prison food. Prison food is not just bad, it can be a human rights violation if you go by this terrifying article about living in solitary:

Nutraloaf is so disgusting it has actually been banned in three states. The recipe in the Florida system, where Barrett was housed: Combine carrots, spinach, dried beans, vegetable oil, tomato paste, water, dry grits, and dry oatmeal. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 325 degrees.


So yeah, I’d brown bag it if I were you. I’d actually feel bad about rejecting the prisoners’ cooking, but it’s worth the potential hurt feelings to have a peanut butter sandwich that does not have cockroaches and/or razorblades in it.


I’m 37 and just realized that flying a fighter jet might be the greatest thing ever. In Canada, our CFL team has one ‘fly by’ game a year where two F-18s fly a five hundred feet above the stadium and it’s exhilarating. Now I’m realizing that I’d like to go back and do it all over again to try and be fighter pilot. Is there any way to embark on this journey? Is getting rich and buying one the only path?


Not necessarily. One dude was a fighter pilot until he was 61 years old. So, in theory, you could still enlist, train, get certified, and—provided you’re small enough to fit in the cockpit—become a fighter pilot.

But you’re not doing any of that shit. That is why I suggest buying a VR headset. I actually tried one for the first time last weekend at this party where they rented a video game truck (did you know video game trucks exist? Well they do and they are fucking UNREAL) that was outfitted with PlayStations and Wiis and Xboxes and enough cool shit to make all the kids’ heads explode. They also had VR shit, so I let them strap one on my melon and I got to pretend I was an East London gangster for eight quality minutes. I fogged up the lenses within five seconds, but otherwise it was TOTALLY real. I was right there, hiding behind a desk and fumbling my clip and hitting everything except my intended target. Just like real life, baby.


I give VR four stars. I was just like the old dude in that Samsung Christmas ad: YOU GOTTA TRY THIS! It was legit. When I get old, I’m gonna buy one of those headsets and get stoned and put on some cool drone footage and just pretend I’m a bird all day long. Tell me there’s a flaw in that plan. YOU CANNOT.

Anyway, buy a virtual flying game. That should do the trick.


What are acceptable spreads for banana bread? I like a schmear of peanut butter myself. Two of the folks in my office put cream cheese on theirs; these people are freaks right?


Don’t knock it till you try it. Cream cheese is actually pretty tasty on both banana bread and zucchini bread. Makes it taste like carrot cake! The problem is that, in addition to adding untold amounts of calories and fat, cold cream cheese can be a bitch to spread on it. You end up having the slice crumble in your hand, which is a real low moment. The safest, fattest play is to butter that fucker up when it’s warm.

Also, ICE CREAM. Nuke a slice of banana bread and top it with vanilla ice cream. That’s high end shit.




At my desk I was just handed a sympathy card for a coworker’s Grandfather in-law who died. Is it wrong that I think this is a little too far out of the close relative realm to warrant a work sympathy card?


That seems little weird but sometimes there’s an added twist that you’re not aware of. Like if someone’s second cousin dies and it turns out the second cousin raised them and paid for their college and was also Paul Stanley of KISS. There are always circumstances that you may not be aware of as an oblivious, indifferent coworker.

That said, I can’t imagine what possible background could make the guy’s grandpappy-in-law so vital. That old man better have personally wounded Hitler or something to merit the sympathy card passaround.



Alright let’s pretend that you are an immortal human. You have been roaming this planet in secret for the past 5,000 years. You are the only one. You look as if you were in your late 30s or early 40s. Even someone in their 70s is a child compared to you. What age range do you date? Would someone in their early 20s feel pedophile-ish to you? Would dating someone later in their life say 60s be pointless to you since you’d only get a few decades, only a blink of an eye to you? Would you even marry and just do weekend flings?


If I’m 5,000 years old there’s no way I’m giving a flying fuck about decorum. None. Imagine how few fucks you would give at 5,000 years old. I’d probably go fuck a rhino just to feel something new. “Well, I’ve already been widowed 18 times and fucked 5,000 people including kings, queens, peasants, viceroys, sailors, shipbuilders, natives, warlords, and fellow vampires. Let’s see if this rhino has anything new to offer me.” Then I would shoot a man just to watch him die. My conscience would be a black hole. I’m not playing by society’s RULES, mannnn. Also, I would totally sneak a 100-year opium addiction somewhere in there. Just eating opium and committing wanton acts of bestiality all over the place.

Drew (not me):

What’s the best dried fruit? I believe dried mango is the tastiest, but raisins are probably number one because of their versatility.


Apricots! Dried, glazed apricots are fucking stellar. Ever have the fancy ones that are dipped in dark chocolate? FULL TONGUEGASM. There’s a reason this site doesn’t have a Hater’s Guide to Harry & David, my friends. Anyway, I’d probably put apricots first, followed by mango, then cherries, and then raisins. Please note that all dried fruit should be enrobed in chocolate. Otherwise, you’re just eating a fart kit.

By the way, I used to find prunes revolting until my wife brought home a bag of little tiny prune bites that are chopped up and then coated in chocolate. I ate the whole bag in one sitting and then spent the next six hours on the toilet. We are all better off when prunes are unappetizing.



Say you’re an NFL GM and you’re preparing for the draft. A couple days before, though, you receive some important news. You learn that one of the guys who’s pretty low down on your big board (say, a projected 6th rounder) can speak to animals. Does this impact your decision to draft him? How? Assume that no other team is privy to this information.


He’s off the board. I don’t want him DISTRACTED because he ran over a squirrel on the way to practice and that squirrel asked him to deliver one final message to its squirrel family. Or what if he befriends a horse? Holy shit, you ever meet a horse person? One encounter with the black stallion and he’d be gone just like THAT.

Also, I don’t want him getting in with the wrong animals. What if he befriends some THUGGY pit bull who starts whispering in his ear about him not getting enough playing time? And what if the pit bull indoctrinates him into the pit bull lifestyle? What if his whole pit bull family starts harassing him for money? No, I want my player focused and in with the right crowd of mammals. Dr. Doolittle there can eat shit.



My future sister-in-law recently entered her dog into a cutest puppy contest on the internet. Now her dog is not a puppy, he is a full-grown dog and she used one of his puppy photos from two years ago. She then actively campaigned for votes with every person she even peripherally knows and the dog won. I don’t think it would bother me so much if she didn’t now post photos of the dog on all forms of social media with the #cnyscutestpuppy constantly. My wife, brother (not the one that’s marrying her), and myself all find this insufferable, are we being too harsh?


I think you can ding her for trolling for votes. That’s annoying. Take it from someone who used to openly stump for votes at the highly prestigious 2006 Weblog Awards. No one gives a shit about the award you’re after, and no one is really all that happy for you if you win it. BTW did I mention KSK won that award three years straight? NBD THOUGH IT’S NOT LIKE I KEEP TRACK OR ANYTHING I WAS ACTUALLY ASLEEP THE MORNING THEY ANNOUNCED IT FOR REAL.

Now, to address the other issue, I don’t give a shit if your sister-in-law entered a grown dog into the contest. It’s not like the Greater Attleboro Cutest Puppy Award needs to have its integrity preserved at all costs. I assume crazy dog people will do virtually anything to secure recognition, including doctoring photos, drugging pooches, and/or having a human supermodel dress up like a dog and then submitting the photos as that of a real dog. People get crazy when it comes to awards. One time my wife entered our first kid in some GAP Cutest Baby contest. (You won, like, a $200 gift card if they picked your photo.) And when our kid didn’t win, I was a little bitter. You’re telling some other asshole’s toilet baby was cuter than mine? HOW DARE YOU, GAP.



What’s more fun when it comes to magnets? Letting them stick together or trying to push them together when they repel?


I like to repel them. My kid has the little Thomas trains and I like to line them up at repelling ends and push them along the track. Never gets old. It’s like a force field! MAGNETS HOW DO THEY WORK? I’m very happy to have magnet toys back in my life. You can actually build model MagLev trains using magnetic strips that repel.

We made one like this from a little kit that costs $20 or so, and it slides along the track on a cushion of reverse magnetic force. It was cool as shit. I must have slid that thing back and forth 900 times before the magnet strips came unglued. Cheap piece of crap.


I also recommend sticking magnetic toys together and holding them up in the air until they finally give away and spill back onto the floor. Again, never gets old. Magnets are so strong!


Just finished the 2nd season of Daredevil and at the end (SPOILER ALERT) Foggy closes out his bar tab. In 2017 is this still a thing? How long does one have to be a regular at an establishment to get a bar tab? How do you bring it up? How high will the tab get before an owner starts shaking you down? The whole process just kind of fascinates me (I blame Cheers maybe?).


I don’t think I’ve even ASKED any place if I can open a running tab. Man, that would be sweet. I could just roll up the bar and see all my bar buddies: Dave, Mike, Mikey, Vinny, Sammy, Gary The Cunt, Dr. Flurst, Old Bob, and the rest! Imagine going to just one bar for life and then dropping dead from liver disease in it. COOL.

Anyway, I assume permanent bar tabs are a rarity now because A) Most bars are owned by some faceless conglomerate that expressly forbids them, B) Are staffed with so many people that it’s hard to keep track of who has a tab and who doesn’t and C) You can just settle up with a credit card after a night of drinking anyway, and not worry about getting overcharged for shit on a monthly bill. Who remembers a full month of drinking? I’m killing these brain cells for a reason yo.


The kind of place that still probably offers an open tab would be like Trees Lounge: located in a small town, staffed with like two people, with a grand total of five regular customers. Basically, the kind of joint that makes you want to kill yourself. The only way to run a tab in high style now is if you belong to a country club. Putting everything on the Underhills’ tab is the way to go.


I live on the gulf coast of Florida and today we made our first trip of the season to the beach. I stopped at a gas station on the way and picked up a few waters and a can of original Pringles for a beach snack. I was excited because, objectively, beach snacks are next-level good - something about the heat, the salty air, and the Alabama fans chain smoking Marlboro Lights a few chairs down really intensifies the tastiness of otherwise standard snack items. But today I wasn’t satisfied. I felt like the Pringle was too bland to mask the rogue grains of sand that inadvertently made it into each bite and the chip itself wasn’t thick enough to fill me up without eating the entire tube. In hindsight, I’m thinking Cheez-Its would’ve been the optimal choice. What’s the perfect beach snack?


If we’re talking strictly about shit you pack into your bag before you head to the beach, my answer is Cheetos. Every time we go on a beach vacation, I make a point of stocking up on absolute SHIT, just the junkiest possible food that we don’t usually buy at home. That means Cheetos, Oreos, crates full of honey roasted peanuts, etc. Then I hit the beach with a bag of Cheetos and get to work on my finger tan. By the time I’m finished, my fingers look like Trump. Then I take a wash in the Atlantic and I’m clean as a whistle. I love me some beach Cheetos. You could fill the bag with seawater and I’d still eat them. Mmmmmm…brine Cheetos.

If we’re expanding to snack bar items, the obvious answer is hot dogs and ice cream. A hot dog at the beach is even better than a hot dog at the ballpark, and it’s cheaper too. I want 87 beach dogs and I want them now.


Oh, and shaved ice! Every time we go to the beach, there’s a dude in a buggy selling shaved ice and the kids shit themselves when he drives by. They traverse 50 yards of blazing hot sands just to get a cone of blue raspberry. Then they drop it in the sand and cry and beg for another and then I say no and then they cry even louder and then I say FUCK THIS and we all go home. Great beach day.


How much would you pay (assuming you wouldn’t get to record it or have a record of what you heard) to listen to Celtics Coach Brad Stevens give you his honest opinion of Bill Simmons after four Sam Adams?


Twenty bucks. Cash. Spill it, Brad.

Email of the week!


One time I went out with a buddy of mine who was married, wife 6 months pregnant. He told her that we were only “Going out for a drink or two, and we’d be home by 9.” 9 turns into 3am.

We got back to his place to find his wife waiting in the living room, PISSED. She proceeds to yell at both of us for what seemed like hours, and then storms upstairs.

My buddy just stands there, looks at me, points to the couch, mumbles, and goes upstairs, turning off the light. I stand in the darkness, in no shape to drive, so I lay down.

I wake up, it’s still dark out, and I have to piss. I forget where his bathroom is, dont want to go outside because neighbors, so I piss in the sink. After I start the stream, I notice I’m peeing on what had to be clean dishes in one of those drying racks. I continue to piss.

This was eight years ago. Never told him. Should I?


Drew Magary is a Deadspin columnist and columnist for GEN magazine. You can buy Drew's second novel, The Hike, through here.

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