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Philadelphia is reportedly a top contender to host a professional women’s basketball team in the next couple years.
The Women’s National Basketball Association currently has teams in 12 cities, but faces growing demand to increase its number of roster spots. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert recently said she wants to add new franchises to provide opportunities for more than just 144 players to play.
The league has narrowed down its list of potential expansion locations from over 100 to about a dozen, Engelbert told The Athletic. Among the predictions for likely contenders: Nashville, Oakland, Portland, San Francisco, Toronto…and Philly.
The plan is to pick one or two cities by either September or the end of the year.
With its large media market and existing base of basketball enthusiasts (to say the least), Philly is a pretty solid choice, though a bunch of different elements would need to come together for a Philly WNBA team to become a reality — a host arena and financial backing, for instance.
This imaginary team would also need a name.
Are we getting ahead of ourselves here? Maybe. But why not? It’s kind of fun.
So we asked, and Twitter answered. Here’s a look at some of the names readers suggested for Philly’s hypothetical WNBA team, from the historical to the political.
Shoutouts to Philly’s spot in U.S. history
This seems like an obvious starting point: Philly already has an NBA team whose namesake references the year the U.S. declared independence. As for our NFL team, it’s named after the country’s national bird. Among the suggestions we got for another history-inspired team name were…
The Liberty Belles
Since plain-old “Liberty” is already taken by New York. Some folks also suggested simply “Belles,” a reference to Philly-born music legend Patti LaBelle.
Homages to a Philly-born basketball star
Dawn Staley — the Philly-born WNBA phenom, and ex-Temple women’s basketball coach — has a special place in Philadelphia’s heart. So, naturally, some folks suggested tributes as future franchise names:
References to an animal or two
Animal iconography isn’t too popular amongst WNBA teams, which largely tend to be named after abstract concepts or inanimate objects — think the Indiana Fever and the Atlanta Dream or Connecticut Sun. We got two suggestions that would buck that trend:
Fillies are young female horses who aren’t old enough to be called mares (usually under four or five years old). That’s not to be confused with the MLB’s Philadelphia Phillies, who got their name over a century ago, as (duh) a reference to the city where they play.
The Philadelphia Vireos
Move over, Eagles — this name could give new meaning to the “the Birds.”
You might not have heard of a Philadelphia vireo (AKA Vireo philadelphicus) because they don’t actually come around here that often. These songbirds nest in Canada and are an “uncommon migrant” species in the Philly area, per the National Audubon Society.
2024 is the earliest Philadelphia could plausibly see a full-fledged WNBA franchise. Is that too late for the city to continue embracing the memes of the 2020 election? Who’s to say. Nonetheless, we got a couple responses that would indicate the answer is a resounding “no.”