Team mascots are a longstanding tradition in sports. The job of being a mascot in the NBA isn't as easy as one may think. They have to keep the crowd’s energy high and remain entertaining all while doing so in a great, and maybe uncomfortable, costume.
The word "mascot" comes from the French meaning lucky charm, so it’s meant to bring luck to whatever it represents.
Many fans love the team mascots while some find them unbearably irritating. Regardless, they're here to stay.
While there are four teams in the NBA, including the New York Knicks and the Golden State Warriors, that don't have an official team mascot, we may be able to offer some suggestions.
Here is a look at all 26 NBA mascots, ranking them from the worst to the best.
Golden State Warriors - Lightning
“Thunder” was the official mascot of the Golden State Warriors since his debut in 1997. When the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City in 2008 and adopted Thunder as its nickname, it meant the Warriors lost rights to Thunder. He was retired after the 2007 season.
But maybe the Warriors can employ a cousin of Thunder and name it “Lightning.” It can be a nod to just how quickly the Warriors’ offense moves once those threes start to rip.
Los Angeles Lakers - The Jokester
Over the years the Lakers have never adopted a mascot into the Staples Center. It might be because in a way “celebrities” are the Lakers’ biggest supporters. But there is none bigger than Jack Nicholson, who has been a Lakers season ticket holder since 1970.
So here’s a mascot suggestion that plays off of Nicholson’s biggest role: “The Jokester.” It could be a giant clown that plays tricks on fans and players. I think that’s genius.
New York Knicks - Spike
The Knicks don’t have a mascot but they do have Spike Lee. Let’s face it, Spike might be the most successful part of the Knicks organization. He bought his first set of Knicks season tickets on June 18, 1985 and since then, the 5-foot-6 Oscar-winning film director has managed to remain a Knicks staple years later.
Despite a bizarre dispute with Madison Square Garden security that caused him to be asked to leave over an entrance issue in 2020, Spike is still the perfect choice to bring fans cheer in his courtside orange and blue outfits.
Brooklyn Nets - Whammy
When the Nets made its move to Brooklyn, it was marked by the introduction of a new mascot: BrooklyKnight. The mascot was a superhero who came "to defend Brooklyn." He first appeared on Nov. 3, 2012. Despite the organization expending a great amount of time and money into the mascot it was retired for the 2014-15 season.
Since then the Nets have been mascot-less, but we may have a suggestion. There is one person that has been linked to the Nets for more than two decades. Bruce Reznick, otherwise known as Mr. Whammy, is arguably the Nets' most famous fan. He is often seen behind the opposing team's basket performing his famous routine to distract the players during their free throws -- and sometimes it works. So, why not have a mascot that resonates with fans?
26. Philadelphia 76ers - Franklin the Dog
Franklin was introduced as the Philadelphia 76ers’ new mascot in 2015 after replacing the team’s previous mascot, a terrifying giant rabbit named Hip Hop who was decommissioned after the 2011 season. While Franklin is quite young, he has become a crowd favorite in the City of Brotherly Love.
25. Utah Jazz - Jazz Bear
Jazz Bear was introduced to the league on November 4, 1994 as the mascot for the Utah Jazz.
Since then, he’s completed countless hours of community service, performed at over 500 home games and suffered many injuries while performing, including tearing his bicep and rupturing a tendon in his calf.
He was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2006 and won Mascot of the Year three times in 2006, 2008 and 2018.
24. Washington Wizards - G-Man/G-Wiz
The Washington Wizards are among a small group of teams that have not one, but two mascots in their organizations. G-Man, along with G-Wiz, is a duo that entertains fans at Washington’s home games.
G-Wiz is a monstrous blue bird-like creature, and G-Man is a large, blue man. The mascots aren’t the most creative but they are among the brightest in the bunch.
23. Cleveland Cavaliers - Sir CC/Moondog
Even though the Cavs have only one championship under their belt they do have quite a few mascots in their arena. Moondog, and Sir CC team up to entertain the fans in the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Moondog, who is named after Cleveland DJ Alan Freed, made his first appearance on November 5, 2003, followed by Sir CC who is a swashbuckling pirate that made his debut in 2010.
22. Orlando Magic - Stuff the Magic Dragon
Stuff has been an integral part of the Magic organization ever since his debut in the 1989-90 season. Not sure what a big green dragon has to do with the organization but he was named NBA Mascot of the Year back-to-back in 2016 and 2017, so he has to be doing something right.
21. LA Clippers - Chuck the Condor
In 2016, Clippers owner Steve Ballmer worked to redesign the look of the team with new jerseys and a new home court design, and they also unveiled their new mascot: Chuck the Condor.
The giant bird, which was near extinction in the early 80s, is reminiscent of the Clippers’ recent resurgence under Ballmer
20. Indiana Pacers - Boomer
Boomer was introduced as the Pacers’ mascot before the start of the 1991 season.
Boomer is a 6-foot tall and energetic cat that performs dance routines and high flying dunks. He has been selected for several NBA All-Star Games, and was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2020.
19. Houston Rockets - Clutch
Clutch was introduced on March 14, 1995. His name goes with the informal nickname “Clutch City” that was given to Houston after the Rockets won their first NBA championship in the 1993-94 season.
Clutch was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2006 and has also been named the NBA Mascot of the Year twice, in 2005 and in 2013.
18. Miami Heat - Burnie
Burnie is the official mascot for the Miami Heat and he may be one of the most famous mascots on this list, but not for all the right reasons. The team has been sued many times for Burnie’s incidents. In October of 1994, Burnie was sued for $1 million after dragging a Federal Judge's wife onto the court by her feet during an exhibition game against the Atlanta Hawks in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The case was settled for $50,000.
17. Dallas Mavericks - Champ and MavsMan
Champ and MavsMan make up a dynamic mascot duo for the Dallas Mavericks. MavsMan is part man, part basketball and wears an orange basketball themed bodysuit. He is joined on game days by Champ, a blue fluffy horse.
16. Memphis Grizzlies - Grizz
Grizz is no stranger to the mascot community.
He was first introduced in 1995 as the official mascot of the Memphis Grizzlies when the team was originally in Vancouver. Grizz has been a staple in the community and was even named 2011 NBA Mascot of the Year.
15. Portland Trail Blazers - Blaze the Trail Cat
Blaze the Trail Cat is a two-tone silver-colored mountain lion who has been the official mascot of the Portland Trailblazers since 2002.
Prior to Blaze's debut, the Blazers never had any official mascot.
Blaze has had many viral moments including one where he impersonated WWE American wrestler Jeff Hardy.
14. Detroit Pistons - Hooper
Hooper is one of the most popular mascots among the Detroit Pistons’ fan base.
He made his Pistons debut on Nov. 1, 1996, replacing Sir Slam-A-Lot. Hooper also takes part in the Detroit Pistons Flight Crew, which is a tumbling, acrobatic, trampoline dunking group that performs during timeouts and halftimes for Pistons games.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves - Crunch the Wolf
Crunch in the official mascot for the Minnesota Timberwolves. His witty sense of humor and amusing antics that energizes the crowd has made him a fan favorite for years. He was named Mascot of the year in 2012.
His over-the-top stunts make him a beloved mascot, but it has also brought some incidents along the way.
In 2017, while doing his go-to routine -- using a sled to slide down a flight of stairs at the Target Center -- Crunch lost his balance and slid into the front row, hitting Karl Anthony Town’s father in the knee, an injury that left him on crutches.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder - Rumble the Bison
Rumble is a high flying Bison that debuted as the mascot for the Oklahoma City Thunder on February 12, 2009.
Rumble is well known and loved among the OKC organization. On Aug. 13, 2009, Rumble was awarded the NBA Mascot of the Year award and he has been recognized at many community events.
11. Atlanta Hawks - Harry the Hawk
Harry the Hawk is the official mascot for the Atlanta Hawks. Since his debut in 1985, Harry has put in a lot of work over the years. He is also at times assisted by Skyhawk, who possesses more of an athletic prowess than Harry the famed bird.
10. San Antonio Spurs - The Coyote
The Coyote has been a staple in the Spurs organization since his debut in 1983. He’s well known for his comedy routines and his many dance numbers with the Silver Dancers (the Spurs cheerleading team).
Coyote has been in many local San Antonio area TV commercials and has even appeared on the national morning show “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee.” He was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2007 and named Mascot of the Year twice, in 2014 and 2020.
9. New Orleans Pelicans - Pierre the Pelican
Pierre the Pelican was introduced as the Pelican’s official mascot on October 30, 2013. His name was selected by the fans through an online poll on the team's website.
Pierre’s original design was horrifying but he was redesigned and revealed a less scary look in 2014 when the team announced he would have reconstructive surgery for “a broken beak.”
8. Denver Nuggets - Rocky the Mountain Lion
Rocky the Mountain Lion has performed in the Ball Arena since his debut as the Denver Nuggets’ official mascot on Dec. 15, 1990.
Rocky has made several appearances in the Denver community but he has also made appearances for other professional sports teams and has performed on behalf of the NBA at the All-Star Game as well.
He was named Mascot of the Year in 2019.
7. Sacramento Kings - Slamson the Lion
Slamson, the official mascot of the Sacramento Kings, is one of the most loved and entertaining mascots in the league. From his famous dance-offs to his hilarious routine, Slamson is a crowd favorite.
Each year on March 17, Slamson often invites his mascot friends to celebrate his birthday and it’s always a roaring party in the Golden 1 Center.
6. Phoenix Suns - GO the Gorilla
GO the Gorilla is one of the most famous mascots on the list. Known for his slapstick comedy, GO was introduced as the official mascot for the Phoenix Suns in 1980.
In May of this year, the Suns announced that GO signed the first-ever team mascot athletic endorsement deal after partnering with the Phoenix streetwear brand Guest List.
He was honored in 2005 when he was selected to be one of three inaugural members of the Mascots Hall of Fame.
5. Charlotte Hornets - Hugo the Hornet
Hugo the Hornet was created in 1988 and is one of the most aesthetically pleasing mascots in the league.
His name was chosen from a pool of over 6,000 fan suggestions. Ironically, the next year, a damaging hurricane named Hugo wreaked havoc in Charlotte on Sept. 22, 1989, prompting the team to debate on changing Hugo's name. They decided to keep the name and Hugo has been a staple ever since.
Hugo was named Mascot of the Year in 2007.
4. Milwaukee Bucks - Bango the Buck
Bango the Buck made his official debut on Oct. 18, 1977 as the Milwaukee Bucks’ mascot.
The word "Bango" was originally coined by Eddie Doucette, the longtime play-by-play announcer for the Bucks. Doucette used the word whenever a Bucks player connected on a long-range basket, and so when it was time to come up with a name for the team’s mascot "Bango" was the choice.
Bango is known for his wild stunts and has made many appearances at the NBA All-Star Game. He suffered an injury at the 2009 All-Star Weekend in Phoenix, Arizona while standing on one basket's rim. Bango slipped through the basket and tore his ACL. He was unable to perform for the remainder of the 2008–09 season, and even made appearances at games in a wheelchair.
In 2010 he was named Mascot of the Year.
3. Boston Celtics - Lucky the Leprechaun
Lucky has been a part of the Boston Celtics organization for over 50 years as part of their logo. The mascot, however, made his official debut on Oct. 29, 2003. The mascot is a nod to the team's Irish heritage and to Boston's historically large Irish population.
Lucky went through a highly publicized moment earlier this year after being stepped on by Kyrie Irving after a game. Many former Celtics players disagreed with Kyrie’s decision and came to the support of their beloved mascot.
2. Toronto Raptors - The Raptor
The Raptor is the official mascot of the Toronto Raptors. He is a velociraptor that made his debut on Nov. 3, 1995. The Raptor is the perfect balance between being a lovable creature despite being a ravenous dinosaur.
On Oct. 4, 2013, The Raptor was performing at a pre-season event in Halifax, Nova Scotia, entertaining children at a local school visit when he tore his Achilles tendon while performing a backflip. He would miss the 2013-14 season causing them to bring in his younger cousin “Stripes” as a temporary replacement.
Raptor has had many viral moments over the years from “eating” a cheerleader to epic dance-offs. He’s also known for antagonizing Robin Lopez. In January 2014, Lopez commented in an interview that The Raptor was the NBA’s most annoying mascot.
1. Chicago Bulls - Benny the Bull
For more than 45 years, Benny the Bull has entertained the Chicago Bulls fans as the team’s official mascot. He has filled the role since his debut in 1969 and has become as popular as some of the team’s most notable players.
Benny is most known for his impressive dancing, aerobic flips and jumps, multiple dunking tricks and spilling large amounts of popcorn on fans. He has made many appearances in the community and has even been seen messing with Justin Bieber and performing the "Single Ladies" dance in front of Jay-Z. He even made an appearance on the television show “Jerry Springer.”
Benny was named Mascot of the Year in 2015 and inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2019.