News / Ottawa

Ottawa's basketball team to unveil replacement name after outcry over 'TomaHawks'

After a flurry of criticism for naming Ottawa’s professional basketball team the Ottawa TomaHawks, Bytown Sports and Entertainment Inc. is set to unveil a new name next month.

The controversial name was dropped a day after the Feb. 26 press conference at City Hall where Bytown Sports president Gus Takkale said at the time he wanted a name that captured the excitement around the tomahawk dunk made famous by professional basketball players.

Some people, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, called the name offensive and demanded it be changed.

The new name will be unveiled at Algonquin College on April 4, before top high school basketball players go head to head in the inaugural Rising Stars High School Showcase, Takkale said Monday.

Takkale would only hint that the new name is “aerial,” in nature.

He declined to comment on whether the new name is among the list of 10 suggestions in the “Guess The Team Name” contest Bytown Sports organized on Facebook in February.

The name “Skyhawks” was the overwhelming favourite by online voters, racking up more than 110 Facebook votes to date.

“Tomahawks” has received 13 votes to date.

Takkale said the new name is “fun and unique” and has no “external associations” with any cultural groups.

Looking back, Takkale admits it was a mistake to choose TomaHawks, but said it was a great learning experience.

“We showed that we lead by example and respect everybody in the community unconditionally," he said. “The smart people would acknowledge it, and learn from it, and then leverage it.”

He is still in the interview process in the search for a head coach, which he says is needed before choosing the players. A tryout session in Ottawa is expected this summer.

The season starts in November. The team will join other franchises in the National Basketball League of Canada (NBL), which started in May 2011.

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