HoopsHype Mascots rumors

January 24, 2014 Updates
January 22, 2014 Updates
January 14, 2014 Updates

The Utah Jazz mascot, Bear, gave referee Mark Ayotte a standing lap dance Monday night as he gyrated on him and swung Ayotte’s hips from side to side during stoppage of play in the fourth quarter: beyondthebuzzer.com

NBA official Mark Ayotte did not want to dance with the Jazz Bear. He’s a referee after all, and referees are not interested in shenanigans. But if you don’t want to dance with Jazz Bear, Jazz Bear will make you dance with Jazz Bear. For The Win

November 7, 2013 Updates
November 2, 2013 Updates

The official mascot of the Denver Nuggets caused quite a scare before the game started at the Pepsi Center Friday night. The plan was for Rocky to be lowered in a harness, with a spotlight on him, just before the home opener. Fans were horrified when a lifeless Rocky was lowered to the center court where he immediately collapsed. The spotlight was quickly turned off. Rocky was checked by doctors and taken off the court. Word from the Nuggets was that Rocky had the wind knocked out of him and would be out for the remainder of the game. Denver lost to Portland 113-98. 7News and TheDenverChannel.com

October 31, 2013 Updates

Rather than try to pass someone off as The Raptor, MLSE made the decision to bring in a temporary fill-in and fortunately had just the individual on hand. According to Haggith, Stripes, the dinosaur cousin of The Raptor who was unveiled midway through the first quarter of the season opener on Wednesday, had been working with The Raptor for the past couple of years so the transition shouldn't be a tough one for him. For fans, it might be another story. No one is going to replace The Raptor's acrobatic, daredevil stunts and for health reasons no one should try. Haggith said Stripes has been told in no uncertain terms that no one is expecting him to try to do what The Raptor does. Toronto Sun

October 16, 2013 Updates

During the break between the first and second quarters, five Nets cheerleaders bounced off a trampoline and dunked while doing various acrobatic tricks. The BrooklyKnight was supposed to finish off the routine with a high-flying dunk of his own. But after the Nets’ mascot took off down the length of the court, bounced off the trampoline and went soaring towards the hoop, he lost control of the ball. New York Post

October 11, 2013 Updates

The Raptor was lost for the season after tearing his Achilles in Halifax last week. He has since undergone surgery. “That was devastating, my daughter was still upset about that,” said Raptors head coach Dwane Casey on Thursday. “He was supposed to go by her school this week. He’s one of the best in the league and it’s devastating when you lose a guy like that who is a heart and soul, the spirit of the team. He’ll be back. He’s just down and out a little right now. “We’re going to miss our Raptor. He’s a big part of us.” Toronto Sun

They also give out various awards, sort of a mascot Oscars — best video skit, best overall mascot for the year, that kind of thing. For several years, the mascots also created a joke award: the Craptor. It was a plunger, painted gold, that they awarded to whomever experienced the worst blooper of the season — the worst accidental pratfall, the video skit that flopped, or some other lowlight that television cameras had caught. Grantland

It was obviously named for the Raptor mascot, who tore his Achilles tendon this week attempting a stunt in a preseason game and will miss the rest of this season. The award, the mascots tell me, was never a shot at the Raptor’s skill as mascot. It was almost a tribute to the person behind the character, and that person’s sensibility. (I know him, but he insists on his anonymity, and I will of course respect that.) While other mascots might try to gloss over their worst moments, the Raptor would happily submit his for everyone to watch and celebrate, several mascots have told me. The Raptor is just self-effacing that way. The Raptor is a quiet person, and the other mascots saw him as a hard worker plying his craft in a forgotten market in a different country. The Craptor joke award stemmed from this combination of pity and respect for the Raptor’s humble nature, and it sort of spiraled out of control; the mascots have scrapped it in recent years out of respect for the Raptor. Grantland

But lo and behold, the same Heat fan, wearing a Dwyane Wade jersey, happened to be in the Raptor’s yoga class, and he was one of those annoying grunters. Cut to the Raptor tossing a giant yoga ball, quite hard, flush in the guy’s face. Brilliant. And by the way: Mascots generally write and conceptualize all these skits on their own, with some help from an assistant. They are writer, director, and editor in lots of cases. If the skit fails, it’s on them, and them alone. Grantland

The team is saying it has a plan for an alternative — there will be no understudy in the exact same costume — to be in place by the Oct. 30 opening of the regular season but details won’t be revealed until then. Injuries to mascots are far from rare, though; the fact the same person worked for the first 18 years of Raptors franchise history is a testament to good luck, the ability to perform through pain and shocking durability. Toronto Star

October 10, 2013 Updates

Forget analyzing the second pre-season game of the month; the focus at Toronto Raptors practice on Thursday remained where it should be — on the injured mascot, The Raptor. According to one source, The Raptor tore his Achilles on Friday at a community event in Halifax when attempting a backflip, although the team has not confirmed that. The day-one employee is out for the year after having surgery, although he will appear in vignettes throughout the season. (For a tribute to the genius of The Raptor, please read Zach Lowe’s thoughtful piece on Grantland. All jokes aside, The Raptor is really, really good at his job.) The team has a plan in place to fill in for the mascot, one that will be revealed on opening night against Boston on Oct. 30. Some have been joking that the team’s new global ambassador, hip hop artist Drake, will be prominently involved. National Post

The news that The Chicken blew out his Achilles in Halifax last Friday and is lost for the year was a crushing blow. Sad. Upsetting. Look, you all know my affinity for he/she/it, best mascot in the NBA, great person/animal/carnivore and someone who’s been around this franchise as long as I have been. I’m sure you’ve already read Not Grace’s piece where Dwane Casey told us his daughter cried at the news and I’m sure others will write equally glowing things. Toronto Star

The Chicken is gone for the year. He blew out his Achilles in Halifax. You could make a pretty good argument that the Chicken (a.k.a. The Raptor) is this franchise’s standout performer. He’s a Canadian all-star. A 19-year veteran. Doesn’t have off years. Appreciates our TV selection. There have been nights — oh God, so many nights — when the only reason to stick around past the third quarter was to see the Inflatable Raptor ‘eat’ security guards on the sideline. We’re not sure what he’s paid. We’re sure it’s not enough. “My daughter cried,” coach Dwane Casey said of the news. Toronto Star

May 16, 2013 Updates

Benny the Bull was named America's Most Popular Sports Mascot by a fan survey conducted by a marketing arm. "We all are amazed at his athleticism, creativity and energy," Bulls COO Michael Reinsdorf said in a statement. Chicago Tribune

May 15, 2013 Updates

Mascots are an important part of the NBA, serving as furry mirth-makers in a league that often becomes too self-serious for its own good. There's no joy a mascot can't bring, whether it involves choreographed dancing or simply forcing fans to consider the ridiculousness of an anthropomorphic blue blob's existence. However, the fact of the matter is that most mascots are very similar, both in their antics and looks. It's pretty much impossible to differentiate between the bear mascots of the Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies, for instance, and that's even before you see them jumping off trampolines and high-fiving children. So, when a mascot stands out as something special, you know that it's done some amazing work. Kudos to Benny the Bull of the Chicago Bulls, then, for being listed by Forbes as the most popular mascot in America (via TBJ). From Tom Van Riper: Yahoo! Sports

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