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JUST GO HOME! What if all pro franchises that were poached from their original cities went back home and LA got all the expansion teams?

Posted on January 15, 2011 by John Wingspread Howell

Only one of these four teams is a Los Angeles original. Do you know which one?

This has been building up in me for a long time but I read something today comparing the LA Lakers and Clippers and it finally made me blow. I responded to that particular article and started some verbal sparring. Most fun I’ve had in a month of Football Night(s) in America.

Here’s how that little te-te-te went. I picked the skirmish with this salvo:

Just remember that the Clippers best years were in Buffalo with McAdoo, Ernie D, Randy Smith, the Mc/MacMillains, and company. The Braves made more playoff appearances in 8 years than the Clippers have made since leaving Buffalo 34 years ago. LA doesn’t love the Clippers and they’d be better off being BACK in Buffalo! Send them along. We’ll take them.

That comment was basically ignored except for the author who sent me a polite:

“Thanks for the memories, John.”

Then some other reader made the very “LA” comment that he might switch to the Clippers after Kobe is gone. That really got me started.

You are the typical shallow LA fan only “loyal” when superstars are around. Don’t do the Clippers any favors when Coby is gone. Stick with the Lakers, who by the way, were named for the 1,000 lakes of MINNESOTA! What lakes are there in CA except for fricking Tahoe! :) The Lakers should go back to the Twin Cities. The Clips should go back to Buffalo. LA should get the Timberwolves.

That particular reader then decided to get nasty. Good, I thought. Finally, I drew some California blood (although I think it was only water color).

That is the most pointless and irrelevant comment I have seen in awhile. But I’m going to respond anyhow. The reason for keeping the Lakers name is twofold. First, changing the name of the most successful franchise in basketball at the time of the move, would have been a horrible business decision. Second, in case you didn’t know, people from Los Angeles call their town L.A., which happens to be the first two letters of the team, or to put it more lamely, “You can’t spell Lakers without LA!”.

And California has over 3000 lakes and reservoirs, but as far as I know, they have no professional basketball players named Coby.

I threw my next counter-punch.

Sorry about the Kobe spelling. When you’re over 50 your brain farts occasionally. Point is the Lakers should have never left Minneapolis, nor the Braves Buffalo, nor the Jazz New Orleans (and I challenge you to find a rationale for keeping the Jazz name in the home of the Tabernacle Choir). LA as in LAte comer, should be saddled with the Timberwolves, or the Bobcats– the pathetic attempts to undo the mistakes and misery caused by franchise transience. Teams represent towns. With no town loyalty, no brand to be loyal to. Since those storied franchises would still be where they belong places like LA and Sacramento and OKC and Charlotte could have those wonderful new expansion franchises and they can name them whatever they want. How about the LA Confidentials, or Superficials, or Fair-weathers (as in the kind of fans you have out there). Somebody should do an article on the best team names for a city like LA. Nice place to visit, mind you, but wouldn’t want (my team) to live there.

No reply. But the author of the article did come back a little later with a defense of the lack of die-hard Laker loyalty with this comment:

Many people in So Cal aren’t natives and may not bleed purple and gold.

That was the perfect set up. Here I go, for the jugular:

Ya think? The percentage of natives in So Cal is about the same as the percentage of gay Democrats at a Sarah Palin rally. Nobody bleeds any color but green in LA. That’s why the Clippers are still scorned after 30 plus years and why the Lakers are more a PLACE to be seen than a team to be loved. The Lakers are one losing season away from irrelevance in LA. Look at the Rams. You don’t even miss them. Most of you don’t even remember them. I was all for sending the Rams back to LA until Sam Bradford. Now you can’t have them. You’d use him and toss him aside. :)

The more I thought about it, the more I realized this rises to the level of an article under my byline, not just a rant under my screen name.

The fact that the Clippers are still not loved by the LA fans and are scorned more in their own “home” town than anywhere else in the US, really sticks in the craw of those of us in Buffalo who still love them (as Braves, of course).

Enough is enough. It’s time to put an end to franchise transience and make right all (or most) of the past wrongs done to sports fans in America’s less glamourous towns (not just Buffalo, but in fact most cities not in California or South Florida—oh, excuse me—South Beach). Fans have been betrayed the continent over, by franchise owners hustling for a “better” deal, for as long as pro sports have been in existence.

So, as Three Dog Night sang, back when the Clippers were still the Buffalo Braves, “If I were the king of the world, tell you what I’d do…”

I’d make my kingly pronouncement for all sports franchises to go back where they came from, and all expansion teams can fill in the gaps where possible. I discovered that this is easier said than done, since many franchises made multiple moves, but… Making my best effort to effect franchise justice, here’s the way the sports world would look.

The Rams began in Cleveland in 1936, but spent 48 years in Los Angeles from 1946-94.Starting with a team making a playoff appearance today, the Ravens are really the Browns in bird-drag. So send the real Browns, back to Cleveland. And send them in a time machine so die hard Browns fans can enjoy winning the Super Bowl a few years ago. And today they can enjoy being in the playoffs yet again. Of course the Colts would go back to Baltimore. That frees up the poser Browns for, oh, I don’t know, maybe… LA? Or, no—Indianapolis, now in need of a team. They could be the Indy Racers. Rhymes with Pacers. Makes a hell of a lot more sense than Indy Colts.

Still, LA is reportedly dying for another NFL team, even though they really just need a skybox for the beautiful people to be seen in between September and January. The Rams could go back to LA. Send the Cardinals back to St. Louis. No, wait. The Rams actually won a Super Bowl in St. Louis, so let them stay. LA doesn’t want them, and the Cardinals are still the Cardinals.

Now about the Cardinals. Flip a coin. Either let them stay in Arizona as punishment for the state’s new immigration policies, or send them to LA. LA has been saying they deserve two teams. I don’t know about that but they deserve the Cardinals at least. San Diego could at least share the Chargers with LA where they got their start. Let them play in Carlsbad and call it even.

The Chiefs would be back in Dallas as the Texans. The new “Texans” could be in Kansas City. It would probably work out in KC’s favor in the long run. On the other hand, the original Texans were only in Dallas for a year and have become a legacy (original AFL) franchise as the Chiefs. OK. They can stay. Send the Texans to Tennessee because another legacy AFL franchise is going back to Houston as the Oilers. The new Texans can be the new Titans (the Jets were originally the Titans and are hence the old Titans). Tennessee even has uniforms that will work under that brand.

On to basketball: The Minneapolis Lakers, the Buffalo Braves, the Vancouver Grizzlies, the New Orleans Jazz, the Charlotte Hornets, the Seattle Sonics, welcome home all! And welcome to the LA Timberwolves. Utah? Meet the Bobcats. Oklahoma City? Maybe N’Orleans would share the Jazz with you the way they shared the Hornets for a couple of Post-Katrina years. You were there for them in a crisis after all. Now it’s payback time.

The landscape of the sports world would be very different if all teams moved back to their original cities.

But then what? Do you send the (NBA) Royals to KC, to Cincy, or all the way back to Rochester? Do you send the 76’ers back to Syracuse (Nationals)? OK, probably not. Maybe you make a statute of limitations. Any move too old for living fans to remember can be grandfathered in.

That rule would be especially merciful in baseball. It might keep the Giants in the Bay. But would LA keep the Dodgers, or would we send them back to Brooklyn and give LA the Mets? (They could become the LA “Pets” with a cute little lap dog for a mascot). Would the A’s go back to Kansas City or do they make the cut? I think the solution where the A’s are concerned might be the “We like our replacements better” rule. Philly now has the Phillies and likes them just fine. Right now the A’s are somewhere between a D and a F. Leave them in Oakland.

Milwaukee is a tough case. The Brewers are pretty well established now, and they were only in Seattle for a year as the Pilots, but if you took a poll at Miller Park, probably a majority would demand the Braves back. I think the baseball Braves actually originated in Boston, but they are certainly happy with the Red Sox, so bring the Braves back to Brew-town and send the Brewers back to Seattle where, when compared to the Mariners, they look like the Yankees. Then you could send the Mariners to Dallas. D-FW won’t notice the switch. The Rangers went to a world series and no one noticed. Football was already in season. How about those Cowboys!

Of course you’d need the Mariners in Dallas because we’re sending the Rangers back to DC as the Senators again, and we’re making it retroactive to last year’s Series—an act of mercy for Washington fans. The Expos are going back to Montreal. And that just about fixes baseball.

And then there’s the NHL. Now that’s a mess! Give the Nordiques back to Quebec, the Jets back to Winnipeg, send all the rest of the franchises back where they came from, and anyone below the Mason-Dixon line left holding the bag is on the list for MLS expansion. It’s too warm down there for hockey any way.  Or maybe we could start a field hockey league. Can’t you see Sid Crosby in a skirt on grass in Miami or perhaps a grass skirt on turf in Honolulu?

And if anyone else wants to move any franchise in any league any where… make them spend a winter in Buffalo watching Braves highlights and see if they change their minds.


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