Why does the NBA think that adding “El” and “Los” to team names is good for Latin Nights?

These uniforms look terrible.

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:

  1. Los Lakers
  2. El Heat
  3. El Magic
  4. Los Spurs
  5. Los Suns
  6. Nueva York*
  7. Los Mavs
  8. 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.

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15 thoughts on “Why does the NBA think that adding “El” and “Los” to team names is good for Latin Nights?

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  4. I live in argentina, and to be honest all of the people that likes the NBA loves those shirts. When we speak about those teams, we don’t translate, because that would be stupid. We’d have to say, “Lagueros” instead of Lakers, “Raptores” instead of Raptors, “Magos” instead of Wizards, and so on. Anyways, we do say Los Lakers, Los Bulls etc. So I think it’s great, I even bought the “Nueva York” Shirt.

    • I get that part, but my issue is that “Los” means “The” and I don’t see “The Lakers” on the jersey, I just see “Lakers.” I know other teams in other countries don’t ad “The” in the team name. I know this is an attempt to appeal to the Latino community, but I just think it’s poorly executed.

      • You wouldn’t fully understand just like I would not understand your culture so let me keep it simple that is how we speak okay so leave it alone and stop trying to understand sir.

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  7. Basketball is an American sport, why do we always have to cater to all the cultures that won’t learn to speak or read English language, You don’t ever see them do it for American that live in other countries.

    • It’s just business,
      United States businessman knows that hispanic or latino are one of the biggest influense here. USA is a country made out of Inmigrants from all over the world not just england, please understand that migrating will never stop as is part of survival, As well as (again) rich people like the politicians will keep hiring them because they work good and they too wanna save a dollar.
      I respect everyone’s opinion, and this is just mine about why they add “EL and LOS”.
      I like it by the way “)

  8. America is always catering to other countries. I believe if you made the choice to migrate to this Country you should learn the language. Where else can you go and make the natives speak your language? Spanish is not the only language spoken in America. And if you want to get technical, what are the Spanish doing so different in America than any other immigrants? Yes, they are working just like the rest of us. I don’t see them making a big difference here. Shaking your ass and disrobing is not enough to deserve such praise….

    • Everyone relax and chill out its just business there is a lot more Latino people in the US than any other culture that’s why MLB,NBA, and others to come will follow and do this Wether people that are anti Latin like it or not so enough with the insults and negativity because these decisions are bigger than you so don’t think that your better than anyone else.

  9. As an actual Hispanic I love the Spanish jersey and the Los Lakers. I think you’re just reaching for something to be upset about.

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