Many G League teams either use an identical nickname to their parent club (the Long Island Nets, the Austin Spurs, the Lakeland Magic and so on) or a thematic partner (the Wisconsin Herd for the Bucks, the Greensboro Swarm for the Hornets). But rather than riffing off the Wizards’ and Mystics’ magical theme, Monumental Sports decided on a locally rooted name and logo. The Go-Go’s primary logo features a conga drum; the secondary logo features musical notes over the outline of the District. The stripes in the drum represent the D.C. flag, while “Capital City” pays homage to the Wizards’ one-time “Capital Bullets” name.
“I felt, and we felt, that we wanted to have something that was very, very connected to Anacostia and the community, and make it as D.C.-relatable as possible,” owner Ted Leonsis said in an interview this week. “I think the [go-go] community really appreciates that and enjoys it and likes it, and I think it’s a good thing for Washington, D.C. Having that connection to the heritage, and doing it in a respectful way is [part of] our social responsibility of owning these teams.”
And so go-go music — that distinctive beat described by The Post’s Chris Richards as “Washington’s native party music” and the city’s “percussion-heavy neighborhood sound — will be featured during the game presentation for the new affiliate, the 27th developmental-league team owned by an NBA franchise. The Wizards made the announcement Friday during their second annual “Go-Go Night,” featuring a postgame concert from well-known D.C. acts. Leonsis and other Monumental executives had previously presented the name and logo to a group of local musicians during the selection process, because “we wanted their feedback, we wanted to make sure we were doing the right thing,” said Hunter Lochmann, Monumental’s senior VP of marketing brand & strategy.
“And they liked it — what it meant for them, what it meant for their music, what it meant to their city,” Lochmann said. “They realized this is going to shine a light on go-go music nationally. We think there are going to be a lot of curious folks that want to learn more about it, which is gonna shine a light on D.C., Southeast, the arena and go-go music.”
The new D.C. owned and operated facility — which will host Wizards offices and practices, Mystics and Go-Go games, as well as concerts and other community events — is scheduled to open sometime next summer or fall on the Anacostia campus of the former St. Elizabeths hospital. Leonsis has frequently said he wants the 4,200-seat arena to spur commercial and residential development in the area, and he described the G League team name as another link between the arena and its neighborhood.
“We need to speak with a very authentic, friendly voice, and one that’s trusted,” he said. “And I think the work that we’re going to do — and how we socialize to be welcomed into that community — is very, very important. We want to get off on the right foot.”
Leonsis also has grand ambitions for the new team from a basketball standpoint. Some G League affiliates are located further afield from their parent team, but Leonsis said Monumental wanted its team close by, “so we can cross-promote, so the players and the coaches can be going back and forth, and so it looks like it’s an extension of the NBA.”
He added that fans could envision a future with an expanded NBA draft, one in which high school stars go directly to the G League “and you can develop them and train them and house them.” NBA fans would follow the progress of prospects as baseball and hockey fans now do, creating a more functional developmental model. Leonsis said he also shares the concerns of NBA commissioner Adam Silver about college basketball’s one-and-done phenomenon.
“I think it is the right time to kind of reimagine the NCAA and its relationship with the NBA,” Leonsis said. “We need to take more control of our platform, if you will, and how we deal with players. . . . I believe that the G League will allow us to have deeper drafts, create more jobs, more opportunity for players, for coaches, for staff,” he said, describing “a re-imagination of how the G league and the NBA work together.”
As for the name, Lochmann said it was suggested independently by two Monumental employees even before the official announcement of a new franchise in June. The front office decided to handle the creative process internally — Monumental’s creative director Chuck Kacsur led the effort — and then presented the concept to ownership, and eventually to go-go musicians and the league office. Go-go’s local resonance needed some explaining within the league offices, which probably won’t be the last time.
“Hopefully it raises a few eyebrows around the nation and spreads a positive light on all things go-go,” Lochmann said. “We want go-go to be infused in everything we do . . . We want it to be authentic, and I think we followed an authentic path to get here, and we’re going to continue it.”
The team also announced it would begin selling Go-Go season tickets, requiring an initial deposit of $25 a seat.