With the Sacramento Kings seriously considering a move to Anaheim, an official trademark application has been filed for the names "Los Angeles Royals", "Anaheim Royals", "Anaheim Royals of Southern California", and "Orange County Royals".
Last month, I expressed skepticism about whether a move south would be good for the Kings. On paper, the numbers would dictate that Orange County has the population, demographics, and corporate base to support an NBA franchise. And the Maloof brothers have the Orange County ties that could make such a move work. But being the third team in Southern California comes with significant challenges, and it might take years for the franchise to win over the hearts and minds of locals.
As for the potential Royals names, I think the Maloofs can do better. It's understandable that the team would want to change names, since Angelinos think of the Kings as a hockey team. The name Royals has history since they used to be the Rochester Royals and later the Cincinnati Royals. Reportedly, the city of Anaheim (which owns the Honda Center) is insisting that the team name include "Anaheim."
But "Royals" seems like... well, a Kansas City baseball team. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the Maloofs are dissatisfied with the result of their trademark application, since Major League Baseball likely owns "Royals" in several trademark classes. I know a few things about trademark law as it pertains to sports teams having worked on the Tampa Bay Rays rebranding. I can say it's extremely difficult to get complete ownership of a trademark if it exists in another professional sports league, and MLB cannot be thrilled with this application. That being said, it's possible that the NBA has some trademark rights to "Royals" dating back to the Rochester and Cincinnati days, and that would explain the retro jerseys that the Kings wear a few times a year.
I do have some better suggestions for a nickname if the Kings really do move here. One idea would be for the Kings to engage in a nickname swap with the Memphis Grizzlies. Of course a grizzly bear is on the California state flag and "Memphis Kings" would work with that city's Elvis history. Anaheim Grizzlies sounds like a pretty good name.
A handful of other names come to mind. There used to be an ABA team called the Anaheim Amigos, which has some nice alliteration and may appeal to Hispanic fans. I always liked the name Anaheim Piranhas, which was an Arena Football team that existed for one season. If the Kings want to stick with the royalty theme, then they could consider "Monarchs" now that the WNBA's Sacramento Monarchs have folded. A name like "Orange County Monarchs" could also work. Other names I'll throw out there: Anaheim Aces, Anaheim Admirals, Anaheim Aeros, Anaheim Orange, Orange County Barons, Orange County Coastals, and the Orange County Waves.
If you have some ideas for a new name for the Kings, then please feel free to e-mail me. I may post some of the really good suggestions.