Some D.C. basketball fans may never get used to the Washington Wizards name, but the city should be able to embrace the name of the team’s new developmental squad: the Capital City Go-Go.
It’s a bit of an unusual name at first blush. Star player Bradley Beal said he didn’t like most of the go-go music he had heard and forward Markieff Morris said he wasn’t sure he had ever heard any. But the music is quintessential D.C. culture.
Go-go music is a subgenre of the funk music, mixed with R&B and old-school hip-hop, which ruled in the 1960s and 70’s, with D.C. at its epicenter. The music is best known for its strong percussion, which explains the team’s logo and the prominently featured conga drum.
D.C. music icon Chuck Brown is known as the “Godfather of Go-Go,” and was a fixture in the community long after its decrease in popularity, before his death in 2012. The name was reportedly on the radar of Ted Leonsis and the Monumental Sports and Entertainment executives but took on a life of its own after a successful Go-Go Night concert promotion last season.
The question was how to do it right.
“The Go-Go music scene has been ingrained in the fiber of our vibrant community for decades and we are proud to help continue that legacy,” CEO Ted Leonsis said in a statement. “We are thrilled to announce the addition of the Capital City Go-Go to the Monumental Sports & Entertainment family.”
Leonsis has been the steward of the Wizards franchise during a time when many have encouraged him to change the name back to the Bullets. With that in mind, he understands the answer to the question, what’s in a name?
“It just was a name that we wanted to be respectful [with],” he said. “We went into the community and asked fans, asked people who would be our neighbors, did they think this was an appropriate homage to the music that we kind of grew up with, music that we felt good about.”
The team also spent significant time on the imagery, painting D.C.’s flag stripes on the outside of the drum on the logo, and including “Capital City” as an homage to the Capital City Bullets.
From a basketball perspective, this is a Wizards first to have a hand in the NBA’s developmental league, known as the G League. The team will play its 24 home games at a new, state-of-the-art venue on the campus of the former St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Ward 8, set to open in 2018. The new court will also serve as the practice facility for the Wizards and Mystics of the WNBA.
“By securing an NBA G League franchise, we will have the ability to develop young prospects by implementing our system through an extension of the Wizards’ front office and coaching staff,” Leonsis said.
And the good news is that the team’s exposure will introduce go-go music to future generations in the Capital City.