Today is Elvin Hayes’ birthday. Big E is 64.

Hayes was the star power forward on the Baltimore/Washington Bullets during the 1970s. The team went to the NBA Finals four times in that decade.

FOUR times! The NBA Finals!

Four times! (OK: Hayes was only there for three of ’em. But, still…)

And, of course, the Bullets won one of those title tilts, during the 1977-78 season.

The late-model Bullets, playing under another name, are already in last place in the division, six games out of first place after playing only nine games, and, as Eastern Conference champs Cleveland come to town tomorrow, hope is scarce.

The cure? Easy! Just get it over with and change the damn name back to “Bullets,” Abe Pollin! What could it hurt?

Happy Birthday, Elvin!

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Speaking of names that should change: The Redskins won’t lose trademark rights just yet.

The Supreme Court disclosed yesterday that it won’t hear an appeal filed on behalf of an American Indian group that sued the Redskins, saying the team’s name is offensive and therefore under federal law shouldn’t be afforded trademark protections.

Redskins lawyers, including Dave “Yeah, That’s the Ticket!” Donovan argued successfully that the plaintiffs waited too long to file the suit.

(AFTER THE JUMP: Another Redskins trademark lawsuit bubbles up? Why doesn’t Dan Snyder just change the name? Maryland Nighthawks come back with a new name? With sign ban lifted, Redskins fans are back to complaining about players? Redskins fans worry that FedExField guards will turn “hi-def” cameras on them looking for bad sign carriers? Birthers take their fight to basketball? Ex-high school star WASN’T 24 years old when he played prep hoops here?)

So, the case was never decided on the merits of the charge that “Redskins” is illegally offensive. But, according to the Wall Street Journal, another, younger class of plaintiffs, who will argue they found the the team’s name offensive as soon as they came of legal age, will make the very same allegation in a similar suit.

Just change the damn name now and get it over with, Dan Snyder. What could it hurt?

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Speaking of Redskins victories: The Skins’ surprising, exciting win over the Broncos has let fans be fans again.

“The weather was great, the tailgate was fantastic, the team showed more resilience than I’ve seen all year and they managed to score more than 17 points for the 1st time in close to 20 games,” writes Dave Alperin of his game-day experience.

Alperin hasn’t been this happy after a day at FedExField in quite a while. He’s a pivotal figure in the 2009 Redskins fan uprising, as the season turned into a sort of Prague Spring for the folks who line Dan Snyder’s pockets. Alperin is the guy who first alerted me to Snyder’s sign ban, after he had stadium security aggressively search him at the gate before the Tampa Bay game a month ago.

Snyder’s jack-booted thugs confiscated an anti-Snyder sign and assorted agit-prop he had fashioned at home the night before that game, after reading FedExField’s rule book to make sure such stuff was indeed allowed under the rules.

Alperin told the guards he’d read the rules on Snyder’s own web site, redskins.com. But as they were throwing his handiwork into the trash pile full of other fans’ anti-Snyder art, Snyder’s guards told him the rules had just changed. No more signs.

But there’s been a change of heart, or at least a rules change, at Redskins Park, either because management was listening to fans or because Snyder realized how bad it would look to have the stadium ban still in place on the same week he’s holding a “best sign” contest for Redskins fans at a local bar as part of a “Beat Dallas!” promotion for his radio station.

Whatever the reason, Snyder rescinded the sign ban before the Denver game.

But in typical Snyder fashion, the Redskins lost whatever PR benefits they would have gained from the move by waiting to announce that the ban had been lifted until just a couple hours before kickoff, when fans planning to attend the game had already left their homes.

“I heard about the rescinding of the sign ban after I got home from the game,” says Alperin via email.  “There were a couple of signs that said ‘Fire Vinny’ below me in our section but I think most people didn’t get the message until it was too late to take action.  Lots of t-shirts.  ‘Snyder Sucks’, ‘Worst Owner Ever’, etc.  My daughter and I wore the ‘Anti-Synder’ shirts and security did not hassle us at all.”

Alperin also note that “there were more replays and fewer commercials.” Maybe the times really are a’changin’.

Yet fans who showed up will remember the game itself more than whatever alterations were made to stadium operations.

Here’s how Alperin ended his game-day recap: “This game also showed me that as much as I love [Clinton] Portis, I don’t think he is an effective running back anymore.  He just has had too many carries over his career.”

Now THAT’s a fan.

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Another sign, so to speak, of the distrust Redskins fans have for management: I got an email from another ticketholder who told me that at the gate before the Denver game FedExField security guards were telling fans “that ‘hi-def cameras'” had been installed at the stadium and that security staffers “would be using the cameras to monitor signs” and going after folks with any signs that weren’t suitable.

I asked the team yesterday if what the guards were allegedly saying was true, and Snyder spokesman Karl Swanson quickly emailed back: “We have always had cameras in stadium and parking lots.  They are there for security purposes, not monitoring of fans or signs.”

The only part of the allegation that I found suspicious was that guards were saying “hi-def” cameras were being used for the surveillance. As Swanson himself has told fans over the years whenever they complain about the stadium’s analog minitron that occasionally shows replays: FedExField isn’t wired for hi-def.

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Basketball birthers shot down: Mouphtaou Yarou, a Villanova freshman who played high school hoops locally at Rockville’s Montrose Christian, is officially not 25 years old.

Last week, the Sporting News reported that in paperwork from the 2007 Africa Cup tournament, where he was a participant, Yarou’s birthday was listed as June 26, 1984.

But, on Friday, Villanova officials said they’d gotten a copy of Yarou’s birth certificate, and that while his birthday is indeed June 26, the year was 1990. He’s only 19.

Something I learned today: If he were in fact 25, he would not be eligible to play under NCAA rules. I know missionaries and military vets and multi-sport stars can play at older ages. This just in: the NCAA’s rules are stupid.

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Listen up, Wizards and Redskins: The Maryland Nighthawks got it over with and changed the damn name: The Nighthawks, a local minor league basketball outfit, sat out last season, but are about to return as the Maryland GreenHawks, the most eco-friendly professional sports franchise.

Boy wonder general manager Adam Dantus tells me the squad will sport literally and figuratively green uniforms and sneakers.

All the details will come out when the Greenhawks are officially unveiled tomorrow during a ceremony at, ahem, Bethesda Green.

One tidbit about the GreenHawks that already has leaked: Byron Mouton of Maryland fame will head up the roster. He will heretofore be known as Greenron Greenton.

OK, I made that up about Mouton changing his name. But, in minor league basketball, anything’s possible.

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