Aside from the talent and skill, you will witness at an NBA game, something else that will surely grab your attention is the mascots. Mascots are known for more than just welcoming the players out onto the court – they perform stunts, warm up the crowd and play pranks on the fans. In fact, a lot of fans will be cheering on the mascots as much as they cheer on the players!
Great mascots aren’t necessarily reflected by the team’s success and, in the latest NBA odds you’ll see the Los Angeles Clippers are the favourite to win the championship but their mascot, Chuck the Condor is nowhere near close to being inducted into the Hall of Fame – in fact, he’s probably at the bottom of all lists.
It’s one thing to be a great mascot but to be inducted into the Hall of Fame is something else. Since 2005, the Mascot Hall of Fame has been inducting mascots under the grounds that they have been around for a minimum of 10 years, have had a significant positive impact on the sport and community, inspire fans and consistently give incredible performances. Let’s take a look at some of the mascots who have made the cut over the years.
Phoenix Suns – Suns Gorilla
The Phoenix Suns are a team from Arizona, a state known for its desert-like landscape – so how did they end up with a gorilla mascot? Well, it was actually all by chance. The first attempt of the team mascot was a sunflower, but it didn’t catch on – thankfully.
However, one day, a singing telegram was sent to the court in a gorilla costume. It was security who suggested the telegram, named Henry Rojas, stay and entertain the fans. It was such a hit that Rojas kept coming back until he was named the official mascot.
Houston Rockets – Clutch
Down in Texas is where you’ll find Clutch the bear, cheering on the Houston Rockets.
After the city was nicknamed ‘Choke City’ in a Houston Chronicle article, when the side threw away their 20 point lead in the postseason of 1993-94, the team came back to win the NBA championship, and renamed itself ‘Clutch City’.
As a legacy to the team’s determination, Clutch was introduced the following season in 1995 and has since become an iconic mascot. You might be thinking Clutch sounds familiar, well, he went viral in a video a few years ago. A man was filmed proposing to his girlfriend on centre court but was rejected.
In the video you can see Clutch swiftly rushing the man away into the stands, shielding him from the awkward moment and getting him a beer along the way. You can relive the awkward moment below:
Utah Jazz – Jazz Bear
Since Jazz Bear’s introduction to Utah Jazz in 1994, the same man had been inside the costume – that was until he was fired last year for unknown reasons. In the 24 years that Jon Absey put on the bear costume, he achieved a lot.
Not only has Jazz Bear been inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame, but he’s also won the award for Mascot of the Year three times, and the Governor of Utah even declared October 10th 2013 ‘Jazz Bear Day’ – impressive! Although the loss of Absey was devastating for fans and employees of Utah Jazz, the mascot of Jazz Bear lives on with someone new in the suit.
San Antonio Spurs – The Coyote
The Coyote mascot in San Antonio is known for performing incredible slam dunks and tricks on-court. Coyote has been awarded Mascot of the Year (2005 and 2014) and best NBA video skit of the year. He is also known for playing a huge part in the community, by turning up at hundreds of events each season – more than any other mascot. You can even rent him for your birthday party!
Denver Nuggets – Rocky
If you’re heading to a Nuggets home game, then you’ll no doubt be hoping to see one of Rocky’s spectacular shows. The mountain lion is known for crazy acrobatic performances and funny skits – with many fans desperate to join in on his antics. Rocky, like a lot of mascots, is great within his community, attending numerous schools throughout Colorado.
Chicago Bulls – Benny the Bull
Possibly the easiest mascot to recognise is Benny the Bull. Benny was only inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame this year, but it’s been a long time coming. The mascot also received an award for Mascot of the Year in 2015 and has been gaining a lot of popularity in recent seasons. This year he celebrates his 50th season cheering for the Bulls.
Known for incredible dancing, aerobics, dunking and shooting backwards from half-court is just the beginning for Benny; he’s blasted T-shirts from his ‘Bullzooka’, thrown popcorn and cakes, he’s even rode his bike down the stairs upon entering the stadium. Benny is the ultimate entertaining mascot, so if you’re ever in Chicago, be sure to visit him at the United Center.