The NBA has paid tribute to its Hispanic players and fans since 2006 with Noche Latina, where teams from the largest Hispanic communities participate by hosting Latin themed events, as well as “changing” their team name to a more Spanish sounding one.
This year, seven teams participated in Noche Latina, and sported jerseys with Spanish articles, for example, “Los Lakers,” “Los Spurs,” “El Magic,” for a series of games.
The NBA’s efforts to be more inclusive of its growing Latino audience are noted and appreciated, but their view on what is essentially Latino is cliché.
Outside of them being grammatically incorrect, it seems that the NBA is cashing in on the “Spanglish” speaking, third generation Hispanics in America, instead of being more authentic toward the Spanish language and Latin traditions.
Although Spanish-speaking newscasters do refer to these teams using Spanish articles, the NBA should use Noche Latina as an opportunity to fully change team names into Spanish and fully embrace all Spanish-speaking generations.
For example, Bulls should be renamed Los Toros, Magic, Magia, and so on.
The MLB has done a better job in incorporating Latin culture. They sell jerseys with the full Spanish translation, such as Los Gigantes, or Los Rojos, regardless of the city’s Latino population.
The MLB’s efforts have impacted the Hispanic community since Spanish broadcasters now sometimes refer to these teams as their full Spanish translation.
If the NBA adopted similar MLB marketing techniques, it would be more inclusive of the large Latin American community that only speaks Spanish.
It seems like the NBA does not fully change the team names for Noche Latina because they are scared they will not sell enough jerseys, or English-speaking fans will not recognize the teams’ name, causing confusion.
This should not be an issue, since teams that participate in Noche Latina are only those with a large Latino following.
In the future, the NBA should fully research and adapt to Hispanic traditions for Nocha Latina, instead of playing Pitbull and “La Cucaracha” during television broadcasts and live games.
As for team names, adding “los” and “el” in front of an English word does not make it Spanish.