Ethan Strauss during an appearance on 'The Herd' in 2023. Strauss suggested WNBA teams should adopt NBA team names. Screen grab: ‘The Herd’

The arrival of Caitlin Clark has made the WNBA one of the primary topics of conversation in the sports world.

That included on the latest episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast, in which Simmons and guest Ethan Strauss discussed how the league can further capitalize on its unprecedented interest.

At one point during the discussion, Strauss noted that the WNBA is an NBA subsidiary and should do more to differentiate itself from the men’s league. That led to the House of Strauss Substack author making the curious point that WNBA teams should share team names with their NBA counterparts.

“The one thing they should have done — and maybe there’s still time to do — that they didn’t do from the outset is just use the same team names,” Strauss said. “Like, why force people to learn about the Fever? Why not just have the W-Pacers? I think that makes it so much easier to just resonate and cut across.”

“Like how in college, how it will be ‘the Lady Gamecocks,'” Simmons replied, seemingly in agreement.


While Strauss might be onto something about the WNBA’s need to further differentiate itself from the NBA, it would seem as though sharing team names with the league would have the opposite effect. Also, for all of the challenges the WNBA has faced since its inception in 1996, it’s hard to imagine the difficulties of learning names like “Aces” and “Liberty” has had any tangible impact on the league’s popularity.

Furthermore — and this may speak to Strauss’ lack of knowledge regarding the league — not every team in the WNBA shares a city or ownership group with an NBA team. So even if we concede there would be benefits to the the Lynx becoming the “W-Timberwolves,” what would that mean for the teams located in Las Vegas, Seattle and Connecticut? If anything, it would just cause further confusion.

All things considered, Strauss seems to be offering a solution to something that isn’t actually a problem — and even if it was, adopting NBA team names hardly seems like a fix. Unsurprisingly, many on social media were quick to take issue with Strauss’ suggestion, while others pointed out this isn’t the first time that Simmons has been associated with a bad WNBA take.

[The Bill Simmons Podcast]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.