Tuesday, March 26, 2019 Elyria 32°

Jim Ingraham

Commentary: A slogan's real purpose -- Whatever It Takes for teams to take more money from fans

  • APTOPIX-Pacers-Cavaliers-Basketball

    Indiana's Victor Oladipo tries to drive between Cleveland's LeBron James, left, and J.R. Smith during a game in January. The Cavaliers and Pacers open their playoff series today at The Q.



If you’ve been sleeping better lately, it’s probably due to the comforting news that the Cavs have revealed their new slogan for the postseason.

It’s “Whatever It Takes.”

Whatever that means.

Actually, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Clearly it “takes” something to win a championship. So the Cavs want you, the ticket-buying public, to know that they will do whatever it takes to get whatever it takes to win a championship.

How do you do that? First, you acquire everything it might take, on the assumption that whatever it does take will be in there somewhere. Then you just sort through it all until you find it — and from there it should be clear sailing to the title.

Team slogans are wonderful things. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough of them. There should be, and there shall be. Here are some slogan suggestions for the other 15 teams in the NBA playoffs:

TORONTO RAPTORS: “We’ve Got What It Takes.”

BOSTON CELTICS: “We’re all injured, but our coach is coaching his brains out.”

PHILADELPHIA 76ers: “Please, LeBron! Please!”

INDIANA PACERS: “Home of the greatest Dipo: Oladipo!”

MIAMI HEAT: “Even if we lose, it’s still Miami!”

MILWAUKEE BUCKS: “Come for the Giannis, stay for the Antetokounmpo!”

WASHINGTON WIZARDS: “Some of us even like each other!”

HOUSTON ROCKETS: “We’re Houston, YOU have a problem!”

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: “Nobody loves us more than us!”

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS: “Quick, name another city in Oregon!”

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER: “Harden and Durant used to play here!”

UTAH JAZZ: “Don’t tell anyone, but there’s no jazz in Utah! Pretty crazy, huh?”

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS: “Two words: Unibrow!”

SAN ANTONIO SPURS: “Anybody seen Kawhi?”

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: “Not just wolves. TIMBERwolves!”

Of course, nobody needs a good slogan more than a bad team, and there are plenty of bad teams in the NBA. Fourteen, to be exact. That’s how many teams didn’t reach the playoffs this year. These teams are known as lottery teams because they have to be known as something, and “championship contenders” does not apply.

Anyway, these 14 teams aren’t going anywhere but back to the drawing board. They don’t need our sympathy. But they do need a slogan.

DETROIT PISTONS: “Only professional sports team in North America named after a component of reciprocating engines, pumps, gas compressors and pneumatic cylinders!”

CHARLOTTE HORNETS: “Dwight Howard misses free throws here!”

NEW YORK KNICKS: “You think our traffic is bad? You should see our out-of-bounds plays!”

BROOKLYN NETS: “Whadda you lookin’ at?”

CHICAGO BULLS: “Michael Jordan, now 55, would STILL be our best player!”

ORLANDO MAGIC: “By ‘Magic’ we mean metaphorically speaking, not necessarily, you know, victories!”

ATLANTA HAWKS: “Only thing worse than us is our uniforms!”

DENVER NUGGETS: “Best ski resorts in the NBA!”

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: “Come see the wonder that is Boban Marjanovic!”

LOS ANGELES LAKERS: “We’re way better than Sacramento!”

SACRAMENTO KINGS: “Rarely, if ever, called for defensive three-second violations!”

DALLAS MAVERICKS: “As best we can tell, we’re not tanking!”

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: “One of the Gasols, but neither of the Lopezes!”

PHOENIX SUNS: “Proudly serving all of Arizonans’ basketball needs since 1968!”

The Cavs’ “Whatever It Takes” slogan is the latest in a franchise tradition of using a phrase to inspire the team, rally the troops, mobilize the masses and, most important of all, open the masses’ checkbooks for slogan-bearing T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies and other garments, available in all sizes, at popular prices.

In previous years the Cavs have cashed in on slogans such as “All For One, One For All,” “All Together,” “Defend The Land,” “Believeland,” and “All In.”

This sort of civic cheerleading of the team, by the team, is a relatively new phenomenon.

For example, when the Celtics won eight NBA titles in a row from 1959 through 1966, I don’t recall them feeding any sort of slogan to the fan base. One reason is that there were no marketing departments back then. There barely were any T-shirts. If those Celtics teams, who turned out championships with assembly line efficiency, had any sort of slogan, it was more of an implied, belligerent one.

Something like, “Here We Are. What Are You Going To Do About It?”

Basketball was different back then. In those days, teams didn’t need no stinking slogans.

But as time passed, teams realized they did need some stinking slogans. At least their marketing departments did. It’s marketing 101: If you can’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle.

The boldest NBA slogan ever was probably by the 1977-78 Sixers. After a bitter loss in six games to Portland in The Finals the year before, when they were the favorites to win it all, the Sixers returned the following season with a swaggering promise/slogan aimed at their fans: “We Owe You One.”

But the Sixers failed again.

Then, instead of doubling down on their slogan — “OK, We Owe You Two” — they decided to quit while they were behind.

Contact Jim Ingraham at 329-7135 or jingraham4@gmail.com. Follow him @Jim_Ingraham on Twitter.

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