The Detroit Pistons just beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the biggest upset in the NBA finals in the last thirty years. Sharp-eyed observers may note that while there are plenty of pistons in Motor City, there are no lakes in Los Angeles. (There’s is, however, a river; the description of it as "treated sewage and oily street runoff" can be used as a metaphor depending on how one feels about L.A.) How did the most successful profession sports team in the City of Angels get such an unrepresentative name? They brought it with them; like so many Angelenos, the Lakers are immigrants. The Minneapolis Lakers played in the land of a thousand lakes between 1947 and 1960, before leaving for the lights of Hollywood. The Lakers kept the name upon arrival in California. The Utah Jazz, similarly, get their name from the fact that they originally played in New Orleans, not from a secret fondness for Max Roach out on the Great Salt Lake. Team names used to simply be nicknames. The Pittsburgh Pirates got their name thanks to their success in snatching successful players from other clubs; the dreadful Cleveland Spiders became the Naps, after their Napoleon Lajoie, then the Indians in reference to Louis Sockalexis, a Penobscot Indian from Maine (or, quite possibly, as a cheap marketing gimmick); the storied Brooklyn Dodgers were first the Trolley Dodgers, then briefly the Brooklyn Robins. But names are more stable now; basketball’s Washington Wizards were unveiled in 1996, the owners having sensibly decided that the murder capital was a poor choice to host a team named the bullets (and having resisted the urge to go back to calling the Zephyrs). The Houston Colt .45s became the infinitely less bad-ass Astros in 1966. As a general rule, teams keep the same names; major league sports are a big business, and the brief uptick in sales when a name switches might not make up to long-term damage to the brand. (How many more Colt .45 jerseys would sell throughout America?) So even generic names that bear no real relationship to a team or its environs — the New Orleans Hornets, the Tampa Bay Lightning — have a long and happy life ahead of them. Or they will until the teams they are attatched to move elsewhere: wherever Macon’s former minor-league hockey team is now, I wish them well, but when you’re not in Macon, you’re just not a Whoopie.