How The New Jersey Nets Almost Changed Their Name To The New Jersey Swamp Dragons

Published on April 10th, 2022 2:13 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel



Once upon a time New Jersey Nets were almost renamed to Swamp Dragons. In the mid 1990s, the New Jersey Nets were struggling immensely to gain any traction with fans.

People from New York weren't bothering to check out the team, which left the team to draw from a much smaller base of fans in New Jersey.

The team was dead last in league merchandise sales - the logo was seen as boring, and the team was nothing to write home about.

New Jersey's 7-man ownership group - known as the "Secaucus 7" - wanted to do something about it.

The team's brass noted that two of the league's new expansion clubs - the Toronto and Vancouver franchises, which were yet to be named - were likely going to go with cartoonish names and logos (this ended up being the case, as Vancouver chose Grizzles and Toronto chose the Raptors).

This led New Jersey to think - why not change our name to something more cartoonish that would make it easier to sell merchandise?

According to legend, Jim Lampariello, Vice President of the team, came up with the idea of "Swamp Rats". After some consultation and discussion, the team ended up chosing "Swamp Dragons" for their new potential name.

The team went to then-commissioner David Stern, who reportedly "hated" the idea. Stern, however, said that if the team got the backing of all 7 team owners, he'd allow it to go to a league vote.

After getting the 7 co-owners to agree on the change, the team enlisted the help of creative talent to come up with a color scheme and logo. The Swamp Dragons colors would be teal, purple and black, with a cartoonish dragon as the centerpiece of the new logo.

After coming up with the new proposed name/logo/color scheme, the team started to approach influential league owners about the proposed move.

The league's most powerful owners really liked the idea, and it soon became clear that the team had the votes for the change to go through (they needed a super-majority from owners).

Despite pushback from the state of New Jersey (they didn't like the team having the word "Swamp" in their name), the vote went to the Board of Governors.

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In the end, the vote went 26-1 in favor of the name change.

Just one problem - the Nets voted AGAINST the change, which reportedly led David Stern to practically implode from anger.

The Nets' ownership group would rotate voting duties, and for this particular vote, co-owner David Gerstein cast the ballot for the team.

Gerstein said that he had gotten "cold feet" and voted against the change at the last minute.

Despite having 26 Yes votes, the league couldn't go ahead with the change, as the team it effected voted against the proposed change.

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The "Swamp Dragons" name was dead forever.

The Nets would eventually move to Brooklyn, and they are now one of the league's most valuable teams.

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