Skip to Content

Which NBA Teams are Named After an Animal?

NBA teams are specific when it comes to their names. They are named after different birds, animals and creatures. This is a unique characteristic which is inherent to sports in the United States.

Which NBA teams are named after an animal? Currently, there are 9 NBA teams named after animals: The Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls, Memphis Grizzlies, Charlotte Hornets, New Orleans Pelicans, Minnesota Timberwolves and Dallas Mavericks.

Some people even include the Toronto Raptors in the abovementioned list, but once dinosaurs are extinct they are no longer considered. In this article, we will have a thorough look at the teams mentioned above. 

If you are thinking of buying a basketball jersey or NBA clothing then make sure you use one of the NBA official suppliers below. Sign up to our newsletter to be in with a chance to win an NBA Jersey, each month a subscriber wins a jersey from the NBA Store.

Retailer
Promo CodeHOOPERGAME
Discount20% Off20% off & Free Shipping10% off
Join Newsletter
Visit RetailerGo to NBA StoreGo to FanaticsGo to Mitchell & Ness
Please note that the above links are affiliate links to the NBA suppliers and if you make a purchase Basketball Noise will earn an affiliate fee.

Atlanta Hawks

The team was originally based in Moline, Illinois, and was called the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. Tri-cities is a conditional conglomerate of three small settlements – the aforementioned Molina, Rock Island and Davenport, which since 1946 (the year the Hawks was founded) managed to grow to Quad Cities and already includes 5 small towns. The Blackhawks, on the other hand, went on behalf of the legendary Indian leader. The name was reduced to simple Hawks during the Milwaukee team’s stay, which is understandable. 

Atlanta’s official mascot is the anthropomorphic Sky Hawk. It entertains fans and guests with acrobatic performances on a trampoline. The Hawk is rumoured to be the highest-flying NBA mascot.

Milwaukee Bucks

It is interesting to talk about the history of Milwaukee. When it was decided by the fans that the Robins, Wisconsin’s state bird to be called the main symbol of the NBA team, the judges decided to choose the Bucks – which is a white-tailed deer. The latter is an animal and the mascot called Bango is also pretty popular among the fans. When the Bucks won the championship title in 2021, the mascot was seen a lot on the court.

Chicago Bulls

The creation of a professional basketball team was succeeded in strict accordance with the canons of the fairy-tale genre. In the late 40s, the Chicago Stags became the first NBA team to represent the City of Winds; they were replaced in the early 60s by the Chicago Packers.

The urban legend determined the theme of the names proposed for the club: Chicago Matadors, Toreadors. The point in the choice was put by the young son of Dick Klein. Right now the official mascot of the team is called Benny the Bull, which frequently entertains the viewers. The logo also depicts the animal. 

Memphis Grizzlies

As part of the expansion of the Association, by the mid-90s, Canada’s fans were rewarded with their own basketball clubs, one of which was the Vancouver Grizzlies. According to the results of the popular vote, the favourites were the moderately harsh Vancouver Grizzlies and the deliberately mysterious Vancouver Ravens; as is often the case, physical strength prevailed over worldly wisdom. It should be noted that a large population of grizzlies really lives in Canada, one of the areas of concentration of which is British Columbia.

The official mascot called Grizz appeared in 1995, when the team was still playing in Canada, and in 2001 moved to Memphis with his teammates. In August 2011, Grizz was named Mascot of the Year. 

Charlotte Hornets

Before renaming themselves, Charlotte Hornets were known as the Charlotte Bobcats. This name was not chosen by chance: North Carolina, along with Colorado, is the leader in the number of red lynxes living here (about 12 subspecies). The lynx accumulates all the qualities inherent in the image of an ideal basketball player: athleticism, speed, lack of fear of a larger predator, excellent hunting skills.

In May 2014, ten years after its appearance, Charlotte Bobcats were renamed. The new mascot named Hugo appeared. He is a hornet who frequently appears during the matches of the team. The initial mascot of the Charlotte Hornets was called Rufus the Bobcat, but was modified after the change of the name. 

New Orleans Pelicans

Like the Bobcats, New Orleans Hornets also changed their name to Pelicans. Right now the official mascot of the team is called Pierre the Pelican. The latter is not as popular as its counterparts, but it manages to make the fans excited during games.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Which animal to choose as a talisman – such a question was not exactly before the leadership of Minnesota” The official mascot of Wolves since 1994 is the huge wolf called Crunch the Wolf. The Timberwolves were established not so long ago and their mascot can be distinguished from the other ones.

Dallas Mavericks

The symbol of the Mavericks is the blue colt Champ. The mascot’s favourite pastime is to entertain children and beg for sweets from the audience. A vote for the best name for the future Dallas basketball team was launched in 1980 at a local radio station. The final choice was made which turned out to be “Mavericks”. 

The title is a reference to the late 50s sitcom Maverick. James Garner, who starred in the aforementioned western, became one of the first owners of the Dallas Mavericks. The basketball team of the same name also plays at the University of Texas at Arlington.

The Raptors

We have mentioned at the beginning of our article about the Raptors. Of course, the symbol of raptors is pretty popular in the NBA. The Canadian team managed to win the first championship title in 2019, the mascot was running across the court. However, dinosaurs do not exist anymore and frequently the team is not to be seen on the list.