NEW YORK • The Dallas Mavericks, who signed the first Chinese player in National Basketball Association (NBA) history, have adopted a new Chinese nickname, the Lone Ranger Heroes, after nearly 20 years of being called Little Cows.
And more NBA clubs might follow Dallas' lead.
The Mavericks, working with Chinese media platform Tencent Sports, completed a process started last September when team owner Mark Cuban posted a video on Weibo - a Chinese version of Twitter - asking Chinese-speaking fans to submit better ideas for translations of the Mavericks moniker.
The term maverick has a lesser-known definition that is used in North America for the young of range cattle that has not been branded. It is commonly regarded elsewhere in the world as "an unorthodox or independent-minded person".
After receiving more than 50,000 responses in only two weeks, the team selected three finalists - Fierce Colts and Wild Horses plus Lone Ranger Heroes - and after more than 100,000 votes, the winner was announced on Thursday in China at half-time of a Tencent game telecast against defending NBA champions Golden State.
The Mavericks, who made Wang Zhizhi the first Chinese NBA player in 2001, will cease to be "Xiao Niu" and become "Du Xing Xia" in all Chinese-speaking parts of the world.
"This is the beginning of a new chapter in the Mavericks' long legacy in China," Cuban said.
"With this Chinese name change, we've made history by giving our Chinese-speaking fans the opportunity to redefine our identity. I think that fans will be proud."
Other NBA teams might follow suit, Tencent Sports director Shi Yankui told ESPN.
"Making the Mavericks' Chinese name accurate means a lot," Shi said. "It's a historical change in NBA's development in China. It also shows that the Chinese fans have begun to embrace and take ownership of the NBA in new ways.
"We're going to try to help more teams fix and perfect their Chinese names in the future."