This week, ESPN revealed the jaw-dropping story behind a sports nickname so stupid its own team cast the lone dissenting vote against its approval: The New Jersey Swamp Dragons, today known as the Brooklyn Nets, who were looking for an extreme makeover in the 1990s.
After reading through Zach Lowe’s delightful oral history of this name — which could only be taken seriously in a decade of ridiculous, toyetic handles like Mighty Ducks, Raptors and Warthogs — you can preserve the memory of the most dumbassed branding proposal in professional sports, thanks to the magic of NBA 2K16.
Xbox One user “Da Infamous NY” painstakingly recreated the Swamp Dragons’ proposed uniforms from the images included in ESPN’s story, and has made them available here. NBA 2K16 has a uniform creation suite that allows users to upload custom images to a server and then, in a few short steps, scale and fit them to a uniform template.
Even if you aren’t a sports fan, go see ESPN’s story. It is eye-goggling, particularly for anyone who cares about graphic design. More incredible than the “Swamp Dragons” renaming proposal and its outcome was the Nets’ idea — seriously pursued — to rename the New Jersey municipality where they played. The Nets administration of the time sound almost drunk off their asses, and David Stern, the former NBA commissioner, called the rebranding exercise “the stupidest fucking idea I’ve ever heard.”
Polygon Backstory is a podcast celebrating conversations about the games we play. This week we talk with Train Jam organizer Adriel Wallick.