NEW YORK (AFP) - The Dallas Mavericks, who signed the first Chinese player in National Basketball Association history, have adopted a new Chinese-language nickname, the Lone Ranger Heroes, after nearly 20 years of being translated as "Little Cows."
And more NBA clubs might follow the Mavericks 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.
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 (Jan 4) in China at half-time of a Tencent game telecast against defending NBA champion Golden State.
The Mavericks, who made Wang Zhizhi the first Chinese player in an NBA game in 2001, will leave behind Little Cows and be the Lone Ranger Heroes (DuXingXia) 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 of this new name."
The Mavericks also had Chinese swingman Ding Yanyuhang play for their 2017 Summer League squad in Orlando and Las Vegas.
Other NBA clubs might follow the Mavericks example, 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.
"This is just the beginning. We're going to try to help more teams fix and perfect their Chinese names in the future."