One little-noticed catch in both Memphis's and Louisville's proposals, however, could make their new pastures not quite so green. Last month, the NBA announced that it would not allow teams to be named for corporations. Boosters in both towns were counting on this sort of corporate cash (from FedEx in Memphis, KFC in Louisville) to make team owners forget they were playing in, well, Memphis and Louisville.

The NBA's statement left a fair amount of wiggle room, however, raising the question of what exactly constitutes a "corporate name." Calling the relocated Grizzlies the "Memphis Express" has been ruled out—but what of KFC's reported plans to pay $100 million to any team willing to call itself the "Kentucky Colonels," which, after all is not just a product placement but also the honorable name of Louisville's longtime ABA franchise (from, 1967 to '76)? NBA officials were apparently too busy watching Kobe and Bubba Chuck to comment.

Contributors: Stu Hackel, Neil deMause
Sports Editor: Miles D. Seligman

« Previous Page