As part of the NBA’s attempt to get more international, they have been doing Latin Nights for the past several seasons. It’s a cool idea and I think it’s good for the league.
But one of the ways the NBA celebrates Latino heritage is to give the jerseys the players wear a Latin twist. And to do that, they decide that adding “EL” and “LOS” to the jerseys should be good enough.
(And as you can see, we have the Los Angeles Los Lakers — sounds stupid).
This isn’t my culture, so I can’t say from my personal experience how this affects me. But I can imagine that if the NBA did this with any other language, they’d probably screw it up big time.
Here are the list of teams participating in this confusing promotion:
- Los Lakers
- El Heat
- El Magic
- Los Spurs
- Los Suns
- Nueva York*
- Los Mavs
- Los Bulls
* Knicks actually have the city name on both their home and road jerseys, so this literal translation works out nicely.
I know when Spanish broadcasters report on these teams, they actually refer to the teams by their actual team names. (And in the actual language, proper names don’t get translated). They call the Bulls the Bulls, not the Toros. So in that sense, I can understand that. But it seems to me that adding “EL” and “LOS” still doesn’t cut it.
And in other sports throughout Spanish-speaking countries, they don’t have “EL” and “LOS” on their team jerseys — so why does the NBA think that it would work? No team puts “EL” or “LOS” (which translates to “THE”) on any jerseys. Even in America, it doesn’t read “The Spurs”, it just reads “Spurs”.
Translating the team names would be easier it seems. Major League Baseball does it and it works out very well (example here and here). If the NBA wants to add a cultural touch to the jerseys by changing the names, they need to go all the way.
The reason why the NBA has decided to take the easy way out like that is for the merchandise sales. If the translation makes the team jerseys unrecognizable to the common fan, then they lose out on jersey sales and so forth. Rather than really embracing the idea of the promotion, the league is too concerned about the profit.
Maybe I am getting too picky with this, but I would feel much better if the uniforms got a much proper translation. By adding “EL” and “LOS” just tells me that they want to appeal to the Latino fans but still keep their image of making a profit. That’s not the right message.
So as they continue this promotion during the month of March, I will just cringe every time I see these jerseys on the court. It just seems kind of ignorant in a way to the non-Spanish speaking crowd with the message of adding “EL” and “LOS” to anything and you have culture!
Terrible. Either do it right or don’t do it at all.
I hope that the NBA never does Chinese heritage night or whatever they are going to call it. I feel that they are going to get lazy on the promotion for the almighty dollar and we’ll get some pathetic looking jerseys.