Mascots are symbolic figures adopted by a team thought to bring luck. When watching an NBA game, you’ll see mascots keeping the crowd’s energy high while remaining amusing in an uncomfortable attire. But, do you know who are the mascots in the NBA and which teams don’t have one.
Some NBA fans recognize mascots than basketball players. Follow us as we look at all NBA mascots; you might pick one in the process and consider it as your favorite.
Why Do NBA Teams Have Mascots?
Mascot is derived from the French word “Moscato,” which means “fairy or sorcerer” said to be a lucky charm in gambling. The NBA adopted mascots to bring good luck to a team whenever they play.
The Philadelphia 76ers has “Franklin the Dog” that has become a fan favorite in the City of Brotherly Love. The Phoenix Suns’ “Go the Gorilla” is the first professional sports mascot in history with an endorsement deal. Many fans love them, but some find them irritating. Regardless, they’re here to stay.
The energy by the man wearing the life costume brings together fans to cheer for their home team. A mascot’s job is year-round to keep the fans thrilled in the off-season.
While they’re on the job, you’ll see them in their funny suit acting silly, running around the stadium. Fortunately, people don’t know who’s the person inside the costume. So, this is an excellent job for shy people. They provide comic relief for the fans during an intense situation and help celebrate the team’s victory.
Mascots should be physically fit. They are athletes who jump on trampolines to shoot the ball in the hoop, throw freebies to the crowd, slide belly on the surface of the hardcourt, do backflips and sit-ups whenever their team scores.
Mascots are creative people and solid entertainers. They mingle with people of all ages; children cherish a selfie with a mascot. You will find them funny; they mime and make gestures without speaking. The trick is to act as immaturely as possible, and fans will love it.
Auditions are similar to a player trying out for the team. Many apply when a team needs a mascot, but only a few are chosen. It’s like being judged by Simon Cowell of American Idol picking the best performer.
Additionally, mascots help develop fans’ loyalty, sell teams’ merchandise, boost team spirit, and make public appearances.
If you are athletic, great with people, and creative, you might want to consider wearing a new hat as an NBA mascot.
Do All NBA Teams Have a Mascot?
Fans see those big-suited mascots cheering for their teams on the court and even off-court. Their presence is just as significant as the player’s presence in a game. But have you noticed their absence in games because some teams don’t have a mascot?
There are 30 teams in the NBA; 26 have mascots, while four don’t have one.
The Brooklyn Nets had mascots, but all were retired. The first mascot was Duncan the Dragon but was replaced by Sly the Silver Fox in 1997. Sly retired in 2012 and was replaced by the BrooklynKnight.
The shiny hell-knight was like a character plucked from a horror story. Reviews were negative, children suffered long enough, and the Nets had no choice but to relieve the knight from his duty.
Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors mascot was Thunder. But the trampoline-dunking superhero never came close to bringing good fortune to the team. With no superpowers to show, Thunder was retired to the junkyard in 2008. Berserker pinch-hit, who only lasted for a season.
Los Angeles Lakers
There is no Lakers mascot because the celebrities that watch their games are enough to attract fans. Jack Nicholson has been a season ticket holder since 1970. Other regulars at Lakers’ home games are Leonardo Di Caprio, Vanessa Hudgens, Charlize Theron, Tom Cruise, Drew Barrymore, Adam Sandler, Salma Hayek, Justin Bieber, Chris Rock, among others.
New York Knicks
Part of the reason the Knicks don’t have a mascot is the team’s name. When the New York team joined the NBA, they used Knickerbockers, shortened to Knicks. Knickerbockers is a type of Dutch pants that doesn’t lend itself to a mascot.
Who are the Mascots in the NBA?
Here is a look at who are the mascots in the NBA in 2022.
|1||Chicago Bulls||Benny the Bull|
|2||Toronto Raptors||The Raptor|
|3||Boston Celtics||Lucky the Leprechaun|
|4||Milwaukee Bucks||Bango the Buck|
|5||Charlotte Hornets||Hugo the Hornet|
|6||Phoenix Suns||Go the Gorilla|
|7||Sacramento Kings||Slamson the Lion|
|8||Denver Nuggets||Rocky the Mountain Lion|
|9||New Orleans Pelicans||Pierre the Pelican|
|10||San Antonio Spurs||The Coyote|
|11||Atlanta Hawks||Harry the Hawk|
|12||Oklahoma City Thunder||Rumble the Bison|
|13||Minnesota Timberwolves||Crunch the Wolf|
|15||Portland Trail Blazers||Blaze the Trail Cat|
|17||Dallas Mavericks||Champ and MavsMan|
|21||LA Clippers||Chuck the Condor|
|22||Orlando Magic||Stuff the Magic Dragon|
|23||Cleveland Cavaliers||Sir CC/Moondog|
|25||Utah Jazz||Jazz Bear|
|26||Philadelphia 76ers||Franklin the Dog|
3 Highest Paid NBA Mascots
Mascots are funny people that make serious bucks. The average NBA mascot salary in 2022 is $60,000 per year. An experienced mascot above five years of experience can earn up to over $100,000 per annum. A newbie below a two-year experience is paid around $22,000 a year.
The best NBA mascots embraced their job so well and raised the level of performance no one could get close to. Hence, they have a higher salary. Here are three of the highest-paid NBA mascots whose salaries you might not have heard about.
Rocky the Lion of the Denver Nuggets
Denver Nuggets’ Rocky is the highest paid of all NBA mascots with a whopping $625,000 per year or more than ten times the average salary of his colleagues. The super mascot has exceptional entertaining talent and can make his team go viral online.
Rocky makes community appearances on behalf of the Denver Nuggets and performs at the NBA All-Star Game. In addition, he made several guest appearances in other professional sports and international events. Fans and players keenly anticipate his daring acrobatic talent, dancing skills, and creativity.
Benny the Bull of the Chicago Bulls
Benny the Bull was the first NBA mascot and has been with the NBA since man landed on the moon in 1969. Benny receives about $200,000 a year.
Benny’s trademark is the popcorn spills from giant popcorn bags. He’s known for his daredevil stunts, tricky jumps, eye-popping flips, and thunderous dunks. Aside from his regular duty as the Bulls’ mascot, he promotes the organization’s programs around the Chicago area. Benny was voted Mascot of the Year in 2016.
Harry the Hawk of the Atlanta Hawks
Although Harry’s salary is kept secret, rumors say it is a respectable six-figure income. What’s more, he gets $250 per 30-minute public appearance, with over 200 appearances per year that make at least $50,000 per year on the side.
Lest you think that birds only fly, the work of Harry has certain risks resulting in breaking a few bones here and there. When not flying in the team’s games, he makes rounds in fundraisers and other community programs.
Wrapping Things Up: How Many NBA Mascots Are There?
All NBA mascots fire up fans. These characters represent their teams and are loved by many. They’re annoying, they wreak havoc in the stands, they’re cute, and they are creatures that show up in silly uniforms. Regardless, they are here to stay.
Not only do they keep existing fans happy, but they also cultivate a future generation of fans. Mascots can rake in revenues for their teams’ merchandise. The popularity of Benny the Bull of the Chicago Bulls hiked the merchandise sales in the teams’ store in 2016.
There are many benefits gained when a mascot represents a team. Currently, 30 teams are playing in the NBA, 26 have mascots, and four don’t have one. Who knows, team owners might reconsider increasing the mascots in the NBA.
Cover photo by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / modified from original