SAGINAW, MI — While some say Draymond Green made a shrewd business move when the 2016 Saginaw-born professional basketball player registered the phrase “Sagnasty” as a trademark, others wish the slang describing Saginaw would go away. of the community lexicon.
“What exists now are two different definitions of the word,” said Phil Eich, a marketing consultant hired by Saginaw executives to restore the town’s image.
A group of people consider the word endearing; a grain and moxie descriptor. The opposing camp regards it as pejorative; a synonym for dirt and grime.
“There’s a lot of power and identity in that,” Eich said.
There are also many legal grounds for not using the term on clothing – including sweaters, sweatpants, t-shirts and tank tops – unless you are green or a member of its company, Money 23 Green Enterprises. , LLC.
Darren A. Heitner, a Fort Lauderdale-based attorney, served as Green’s attorney in April 2016 when the four-time NBA champion filed the trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
At the time he filed the mark, Green and the then-defending champion Golden State Warriors were nine days away from earning the best regular season record in NBA history. In December 2016, federal authorities approved the “Sagnasty” trademark, effectively allowing Green to legally challenge anyone else attempting to sell clothing featuring the phrase.
“It was Draymond’s intention — and he actually proceeded to do so — in selling clothes under that name,” Heitner said. “We’ve built up quite an extensive intellectual property portfolio for (Green) over the years.”
Green and company also own the trademark “Money Green” – a nickname for the former Michigan State University basketball star – and Heitner said he filed a third trademark application for the phrase. “Green 23 Inc.” in March. Two days after winning his second NBA championship in June 2017, Green trademarked the “Hampton 5” – the nickname for the Warriors’ star starting five this season – but ultimately abandoned the effort at a time when teammate Kevin Durant was set to leave the Oakland-based franchise.
The level of success of Green’s brand-related activities remains uncertain. The Saginaw News/MLive could not reach Green, who entered his 11th NBA season earlier this week.
Green’s history with the term “Sagnasty”, however, began before he pursued his financial benefits.
Hours before being selected by the Warriors with the No. 35 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, he sent a message via his Twitter account: “Sag Nasty what’s up”
In an interview published by The Mercury News four years later, he spoke about the pride he felt in his hometown and why he called it “Sagnasty”.
“Because it’s mean,” Green told the San Jose, Calif.-based publication. “That’s what made me nasty, though. Nasty is the way I play on the floor, so I accept it. I love it. I’ll never stop calling it that, because to be successful , you also have to have it.
Other top Saginaw athletes were linked to “Sagnasty”, which people use both as a noun to refer to the town and as an adjective to describe an action.
The late Charles Rogers, a football star at Saginaw High School and Michigan State University in the 1990s and early 2000s, sported a “Sagnasty” tattoo. It was a physical feature sufficiently tied to his identity for The New York Times to reference it in the publication’s November 2019 obituary following the former Detroit Lions wide receiver’s death from liver failure.
One of Rogers’ athletic contemporaries at the turn of the century, LaMarr Woodley, a former Saginaw High School and Pittsburgh Steelers football player, also sports a tattoo of the word.
Annett Babers, Green’s aunt, was a former basketball star at Saginaw High School and Michigan State University in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“There was a game where an older guy dunked, and someone in the crowd said, ‘Oh, that was mean,'” Babers said of the pick-up game in the city. “Then someone said, ‘Only someone from Saginaw could do that; it was Sagnasty.
Babers said that, like her nephew, she found slang endearing.
“I love ‘Sagnasty’,” she said.
“Some people, when they hear that word, think mean is a dirty word. But it’s like when you say someone looks ‘sharp’. It doesn’t mean that person cut someone off. one; it just means they look good. Saying something is “bad” is just another way of saying it’s good.
On his Facebook page in September, Eich struck up a conversation with members of the community to explore their interpretations of “Sagnasty.” He said the exercise shed light on the origins of the word and how it has evolved over the decades.
“It started as a source of pride and identity for a lot of people, but then other people heard it and didn’t understand the meaning, and they took it as people bashing Saginaw” , Eich said. “So you end up with one word with two different meanings.”
He said the debate over the word proved polarizing enough that it turned into a discussion over “Saginawesome”, another slang that many people consider a rebuke to “Sagnasty”.
“And, so now you have people seeing (‘Saginawesome’) almost whitewashing that other word that they grew up with and became attached to,” Eich said. “It’s complex.”
Floyd Kloc, the mayor of Saginaw before he resigned in 2020, in his final State of the City address, publicly encouraged his constituents to disregard “Sagnasty” in the community lexicon.
“This narrative needs to change; that word is the antithesis of who and what we are,” Kloc said in the February 2020 speech at the Dow Event Center in downtown Saginaw. “On the contrary, we are ‘Saginawesome’ and we must let everyone hear it from our lips and our hearts.”
His successor, Mayor Brenda Moore, said she remained lukewarm on the use of “Sagnasty”.
She recognized the marketing power of using gritty adjectives to describe a name, such as when fans attached the “Bad Boys” moniker to the Detroit Pistons to describe the team’s underdog appeal. NBA and its stubborn determination during the championships in the late 80s.
“You knew what that meant,” Moore said of the Pistons’ marketing. “A lot of people here, when it comes to (‘Sagnasty’), they don’t see it as a positive statement – at a time when we’re trying to change the image people have of our city. I have tried to get people to look good at Saginaw, and “nasty” can sometimes be a derogatory statement when it comes to building that image.
Eich compared Saginaw slang to another Detroit-centric phrase used in marketing: “Detroit against everyone else”.
“With that, they identify as fighters; as a community that has courage, and I consider the word ‘Sagnasty’ to be exactly that,” Eich said.
“It’s just a shame it got lost in translation along the way. But Draymond made a shrewd commercial move because I think he understands there’s a lot of power in that word as a It communicates a message and an atmosphere about the community.
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