NBA rejects Memphis Express moniker

The NBA will not allow teams to be named for corporations, meaning the Vancouver Grizzlies will not become the Memphis Express if the league approves the move.

FedEx Corp. is ready to buy naming rights to a new arena if the NBA grants permission for the Grizzlies to relocate to Memphis. The company hoped to include a corporate nickname in the approximately $100-million deal.

But Joel Litvin, the NBA's executive vice-president of legal and business affairs, said Monday the league forbids a corporate nickname.

"That's not territory that we're prepared to enter," Litvin told the Commercial Appeal.

Litvin did not immediately return a call to The Associated Press on Tuesday.

That won't change FedEx's decision to buy the naming rights since the company thought getting the team named after the corporation was "a longshot," said Mike Glenn, FedEx's executive vice-president of market development and corporate communications.

NBA commissioner David Stern and the league's relocation committee are to visit Memphis next week.

They will tour downtown Memphis, The Pyramid arena that would be the Grizzlies' interim home and potential sites for a new arena. They also will meet with Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley and members of the Memphis group that would buy up to 50 percent of the team.

Litvin called The Pyramid an adequate temporary facility, but he indicated a new arena would need to be "a certainty or near-certainty" for the NBA governors to approve the move.