The NBA Developmental League has been getting a lot of press lately, with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently saying NBA prospects would be better off in the D-League than if they were playing in the NCAA. And all the while the end game from the NBA just might be in trying to provide an affiliate for each of its 30 franchises in hopes of having what can really be perceived as a true minor league system.
Little by little, the D-League's reputation has grown. Grantland recently had a week's worth of D-League content. Real draft picks are actually getting some work down there instead of being shamed for accepting the assignment. NBA teams are finding value in players who have earned roster spots and contracts. And the league is showing growth: it was announced on Monday the New York Knicks will have a D-League team of their very own starting next season in White Plains, with games being held at the Westchester County Center.
From the release:
“We are very excited to bring a New York Knicks NBA Development League franchise to Westchester, a great basketball community that has embraced orange and blue and served as our training home for 25 plus years,” said [Knicks assistant general manager and Knicks D-League general manager Allan] Houston. “The NBA D-League is thriving, and this opportunity allows us to develop players closer to our training facility, and to provide high level, affordable basketball entertainment to the community.”
The one rub? The team doesn't have a name yet.
To try and drum up a little publicity for the organization, the Knicks are holding a contest for fans to try and name the new team. Chances are this is nothing more than a way to get extra attention (odds are they already have a name they want to use), but, hey, maybe?
In the off chance this is the real deal, we brought in Seth Rosenthal, site manager for the Knicks blog Posting and Toasting and a regular at SB Nation, to help with the brainstorming process. As we all know, there's no wrong answers when it comes to name generation.
Martin Rickman: The Knicks are getting a D-League team, Seth! Are you as excited as I am?
Seth Rosenthal: I am, truly. They've always had an affiliation, but they didn't fully own the team, and the team was stuck out in Erie. This is a team that's totally theirs, and it's local, which is exciting. Players don't have to schlep back and forth, and people like me could actually go to games sometimes. It's a whole new thing.
MR: I've spent a lot of time in and around the city and some time upstate, but I don't know a lot about White Plains. Is it easy to get to using transit?
SR: Yeah, it's pretty nice. It's a big fancy suburb just a bit out in Westchester. Not a bad ride on the train, and just over the Tappan Zee. Close enough that the Knicks have their practice facility over there hidden in a big office complex. Couple pretty good pizza places, which is important.
MR: So it's a good fit for a D-League team. You don't want them too close anyway because then they're competing with themselves. Lets people get to a game cheaply, lets players get bumped up and down to the main roster more seamlessly. And like you said, pizza. The Cavs have that with their Canton affiliate (although the pizza isn't quite as good). It seems like the +2 guys are always making the drive down I-77. It's great for them; they get meaningful playing time in the D-League. And it's great for the team; the Cavs have extra healthy bodies when they need them. So what about this whole naming thing? Do you have any ideas that really stick out right away?
SR: Well, I like animals, and my favorite thing is when teams name themselves after local fauna even when the species doesn't meet this weird criterion we've developed of arbitrary fearsomeness. (I am a huge proponent of "New Orleans Pelicans"). I think it's fun, and in some cases I think it can boost local conservation efforts. But anyway, my choice would be a local animal. I like alliteration, too, so figuring they'll go by "White Plains" or "Westchester", I'd pick a local "W" animal like the "Wigeon". In fact, I'd probably pick "Wigeon" because wigeons are cool and I like the word "wigeon". Wigeon, Wigeon, Wigeon.
MR: Think of the mascot possibilities for the kids. A big old cartoon duck. Get Disney involved, dust off some old Huey, Dewey and Louie costumes. Maybe Baloo shows up to hang out with them. I'm on board with this.
SR: I have a dumb question: I never paid that close attention to
DuckTales Spin City TaleSpin. Was that really Baloo or just a very similar bear?
MR: It's Baloo. He's basically a pilot out of South Pacific or something. I'm super confused by it too. But time doesn't exist in cartoons. Neither does life or death, I don't think. It's very well possible Jungle Book Baloo is existing at this very moment along with TaleSpin Baloo and thousands of different alternates.
SR: Okay, thank you for clarifying. I grew up loving Jungle Book but never really getting into TaleSpin. Anyway, yeah, I'm in favor of any Disney tie-ins and I'll add that if there's a way to make Baloo the mascot, I'd back off my local fauna kick and make them the White Plains Sloth Bears and have someone dress up in a big Baloo outfit so I can hug Baloo.
MR: One other option I initially thought of was partnering with the arena football league. KISS just released its team's uniforms. Sure would save on branding efforts. Although I'm not so sure how much people in a New York suburb would take to hearing Detroit Rock City every game, I guess.
LA KISS uniform. CHECK IT OUT!! pic.twitter.com/n81A37Nsob
— Paul Stanley (@PaulStanleyLive) March 10, 2014
MR: Speaking of big sloth bears, one idea that got brought up on Posting and Toasting that I'm super excited about was the White Plains Trains and Automobiles.
SR: Yes! I love the punnery. And, ya know, there are trains and automobiles in White Plains, so...sure. The mascot is a terrifying John Candy costume.
MR: The logo is just a giant shower curtain ring. And much like the Knicks, the White Plains Trains and Automobiles never actually get where they're trying to go.SR: I'm sold.
MR: So we shouldn't keep going? I was all set to pitch a White Plains White T's idea and everything.
SR: Their mascot is...Delilah?
MR: Yeah maybe that's not such a good idea.