NBA Team Nicknames Quiz: Do You Know How These 7 NBA Teams Were Named?

  • David Gonos


The NBA has a storied history that dates back to the middle of the 20th century, and just like many other sports, NBA team nicknames usually have some great origin stories, too.

So we came up with this little seven-question quiz to separate those that think they know NBA history, and those that should just stick to pickup games in the driveway. Can you determine which of these NBA team nickname origin stories are “REAL” or “FAKE”?

Can you determine fact from fiction for the origin storylines behind how these NBA team nicknames came about? Our quiz separates the sharpshooters from the chuckers.

[For the answers to the quiz, just click here.]

Houston Rockets: The Rockets originally came from the city of whale’s vagina (that means San Diego). Back in the late ‘60s, that city had a theme of being a “city in motion,” and a fan naming contest chose the name, “Rockets.”

AP Photo - Rick Bowmer

Orlando Magic: Disney was part of Pat Williams’ ownership group that brought the expansion franchise to Central Florida in the late-‘80s. Disney CEO Michael Eisner asked that the team be named “Magic,” as a nod to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

Photo Credit: AP/John-Raoux

Toronto Raptors: The team was named by original owner John Bitove, as a nod to the world famous dinosaur exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum. Velociraptors are carnivorous dinosaurs that lived in Northern Ontario during the Cretaceous Period, and they happen to be one of over 290 dinosaurs that were believed to have existed in North America.

AP Photo/Koji Sasahara

Washington Bullets (Before They Became the Wizards): This club originally moved from Chicago to Baltimore, where there was an ammunitions foundry. Bullets make you think of shooting, speed and accuracy, hence, the nickname!

AP Photo/Bob Schutz

Detroit Pistons: While many think this team was named the Pistons because it resides in “Motor City,” where Ford and General Motors are headquartered, that’s not the reason! The team originally hailed from Fort Wayne, Indiana, about 170 miles southeast of Detroit. Fort Wayne was where the team owner also owned a company that manufactured automotive pistons.

AP Photo/Tony Dejak

Portland Trail Blazers: The team’s original founder was a man named Harry Glickman, who happened to be a sports promoter in the ’50s and ‘60s. He famously led many of the early anti-war protests on the West Coast, and he believed his peaceful protests helped change Americans’ views of their government.

AP Photo

Los Angeles Clippers: This NBA team originally came from Buffalo, New York, but then the team moved to San Diego in the late 70s. The former Braves were looking for a new team name, and since the city of San Diego is considered one of the biggest sailing cities of the world, they named their team after the big sailing ships, called, “Clippers,” before moving to L.A. in 1984.

AP Photo/J. Pat Carter

David Gonos

David Gonos has been writing about sports online since 2001, including,,, and