Read Grantland's Zach Lowe Just Gush over the Philadelphia 76ers' Name

Read Grantland's Zach Lowe Just Gush over the Philadelphia 76ers' Name

Art by Milton Un for Grantland.

You're not going to find the 76ers in the Top 5 of many lists this offseason. Unless it's a list for potential Top 5 picks in the 2014 draft or maybe teams who are the furthest under the salary floor. In Hinkie we trust!

But fret not Sixers fans. You have a new reason to puff out your chest in the month of August, and it doesn't involve Adam Aron, Andrew Bynum's hair of the ghost of Jason Richardson. (In fairness, the Sixers' floor spacing was substantially better with J-Rich than without J-Rich last year, and I feel a strange, sincere and wholly inexplicable yearning to pay him the $6.6 million he could command by exercising his 2014-15 option).

More to the point, Grantland NBA aficionado Zach Lowe, as a follow up to his highly controversial "Let's give the Pelicans" a nickname treatise, has compiled a list of the National Basketball Association's best team names from No. 30 to No. 1.

And at No. 2 -- much like in the 2010 draft (I'm practically giddy about the impending Evan Turner-Sam Hinkie "hey, how about my $8.7 million qualifying offer?" meeting) -- your team, your town, your ... Philadelphia 76ers.

Lowe:

What a magical nickname — a combination of numbers and letters that sounds so nice, with all those "S" sounds. It carries a shorthand in "Sixers" that is just as good, evokes the city's monumental place in U.S. history, and stands out as one of the great creative nicknames in sports.

The name is obviously a reference to the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia in 1776, an event worth loud and proud commemoration, and "Seventy-Sixer" has the Knickerbocker effect of working as a shorthand for people from Philadelphia. Most major highways that run through and around the city include the number "76," the Liberty Bell is there, the Founders signed the Constitution there, and the city served as the nation's capital at times during and after the American Revolution.

In other words: Go crazy with the kick-ass historical references, Philly. You deserve it. The inherent patriotism of the name has allowed the Sixers to play with red, white, and blue color schemes and to toss some flag elements into their logo designs. The minimalist white basketball with blue trim, a red "7," and a circle consisting of 13 stars (for the original 13 colonies) is high basketball art.

Alas, the Sixers have struggled to come up with a workable mascot — the downside of the Knickerbocker-style name. The team mercy-killed Hip-Hop the sunglasses-wearing rabbit after the lockout, sending out a bogus press release indicating Hip-Hop had "fallen in love" and left the franchise — not all that different from the time Poochie died on the way back to his home planet. They then asked fans to choose a new mascot form three options — a generic goofy dog (Poochie II?), a basketball-playing moose (getting warmer), and a hooping Ben Franklin (ding!), but the franchise ultimately chose none of the above. Get this right, and the Sixers may ascend to the throne.

No. 1 on the list? The Portland Trail Blazers, which is plainly acceptable to all of us who grew up playing Oregon Trail.

Alright, let's turn this into something. Give us favorite and/or least favorite names in sports.

This Deadspin piece from 2012 NBA Finals is a continued source of entertainment.

LINKS:
>>The Definitive Guide to NBA Team Names, Part 2 [Grantland]
>>The Definitive Guide to NBA Team Names, Part 1 [Grantland]
>>The Thunder Are A Matchup Nightmare For Copy Editors. So Is The Heat. [Deadspin]

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane scored three goals for his third career hat trick to lead the surging Chicago Blackhawks past the Arizona Coyotes 6-3 on Thursday night for their third straight win and eighth in nine games.

Kane has 23 goals to lead Chicago, which closed within three points behind first-place Minnesota in the Central Division and Western Conference.

Rookies Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman each had a goal and assist. Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival scored his first goal of the season in his first game since Jan. 15.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews added two assists to extend his points scoring streak to five games and increase his output to 22 points in his past 13.

Jakob Chychrun, Ryan White and Radim Vrbata scored for the Coyotes. Chychrun and Vrbata each scored for the second straight game (see full recap).

Rangers outlast Maple Leafs in shootout
TORONTO -- Mika Zibanejad scored the shootout winner and the New York Rangers continued a strong February with a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves and J.T. Miller scored the game-tying goal in the third period for the Rangers, who improved to 8-1-1 this month.

New York moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division with 80 points.

Connor Brown scored for Toronto, which fell to 1-7 in shootouts this season. Frederik Andersen had a stellar performance in defeat with 37 saves.

The Leafs hold the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division (68 points), two points back of Ottawa (70) and four back of Montreal (see full recap).

Islanders shut out Canadiens
MONTREAL -- Rookie Anthony Beauvillier scored in the first period, Thomas Greiss made 24 saves, and the New York Islanders beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 Thursday night.

Anders Lee scored in the second period and John Tavares added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal the Islanders' third straight win. New York has won the first two games on a crucial nine-game road swing and improved to 12-4-2 since interim coach Doug Weight replaced the fired Jack Capuano.

Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson each had two assists, and Greiss got his third shutout of the season.

Carey Price finished with 21 saves as the Canadiens lost coach Claude Julien's 1,000th NHL game. Montreal is 1-2-0 since Julien replaced Michel Therrien last week and has totaled just 14 goals while going 2-7-1 in the last 10 games, including four shutouts (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Rockets crush Pelicans to spoil Cousins' debut

Best of NBA: Rockets crush Pelicans to spoil Cousins' debut

NEW ORLEANS -- The Boogie-and-Brow era in New Orleans is off to a highly inauspicious start.

The Pelicans' tandem of newly acquired All-Star DeMarcus Cousins and All-Star Game MVP Anthony Davis was no match for the surging Houston Rockets on Thursday night.

Reserve Lou Williams hit seven 3-pointers and scored 27 points in his Rockets debut, and Houston crushed New Orleans, 129-99.

Davis had 29 points, and Cousins finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds. But New Orleans turned the ball over 20 times couldn't keep pace with the firepower of the Rockets, who hit 20 3-pointers.

Eric Gordon scored 19 points and Ryan Anderson added 17 in both players' first game in New Orleans since leaving the Pelicans. James Harden had 13 points and 14 assists (see full recap).

LeBron triple-double powers Cavs past Knicks
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James recorded his 48th career triple-double and Kyrie Irving scored 23 points, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 119-104 victory over the New York Knicks, who hung on to superstar Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose at Thursday's trade deadline.

James scored 18 points and had 13 rebounds with 15 assists for his sixth triple-double of the season.

Anthony, the subject of trade rumors because of a strained relationship with Knicks President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson, scored 20 points, going 9 of 25 from the field.

Kyle Korver scored 20 points for Cleveland, which is 8-1 in February and has beaten New York 10 straight times.

Courtney Lee had 25 points for New York, which has lost six of seven and is 12th in the Eastern Conference playoff race (see full recap).

Pistons rally from 18 down to beat Hornets in OT
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 33 points, including three 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter during a pulsating Detroit rally, and the Pistons outlasted the Charlotte Hornets 114-108 in overtime Thursday night.

Caldwell-Pope scored Detroit's last 11 points of regulation, and his 3-pointer with 18.2 seconds to play tied the game at 100. Kemba Walker scored Charlotte's final nine points of the fourth, but the Pistons forced him to give up the ball on the last possession, and Marco Belinelli missed a 3-pointer that could have won it.

Detroit, which was behind by 18 in the third quarter, never trailed in the overtime. Caldwell-Pope's 3-pointer with 55 seconds remaining put the Pistons up 110-102.

Charlotte led 85-70 at the start of the fourth but missed 14 of its first 15 shots in the period, enabling Detroit to cut into the lead.

Walker scored 34 points. Tobias Harris had 25 for the Pistons (see full recap).