Ranking NBA’s Mascots from Worst to Best

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Bulls mascot Benny
(TonyTheTiger/Wikimedia Commons)
BetMGM @BETMGM Oct 11, 2022, 9:50 AM
  • Benny the Bull is No. 1 in this NBA mascot ranking.
  • Some NBA mascots have interesting backstories.

The French came up with the word “mascot” 150 years ago. It means “lucky charm,” so it’s meant to bring luck to whoever – or whatever – it represents. Now, when it comes to NBA mascots, some have done their jobs while others have been furry or feathery flops.

Here’s a look at NBA mascots, worst to best. And after you’re done checking that out, feel free to look at NBA betting spreads, Over/Unders, parlays and more.

#26 – Dallas Mavericks: Champ/Mavs Man

Do you know what they say about trying to please all the people all the time? For some, it might be tough enough to figure out why a maverick (an independent-minded person) is represented by Champ the horse, but it gets worse. The Mavericks’ second mascot – Mavs Man – has been described as “the Frankenstein lovechild of a basketball and Dolph Lundgren.”

But love him or hate him, at least fans don’t take Mavs Man too seriously.

No. 25 – Philadelphia 76ers: Franklin

Franklin the dog is meant to represent Philadelphia’s favorite son. No, not Rocky, Benjamin Franklin of course.

Fans will probably be divided over whether Franklin is an improvement over Hip Hop, the 76ers’ previous mascot, who was also less than pleasing to the eye.

No. 24 – Miami Heat: Burnie

We’ll give Burnie credit for his dance moves. After all, performing in a costume like that calls for the prowess of an Olympic athlete, but what is he?

We get the play on words – Heat and Burn-ie – but the rest is lost on us. If nothing else, Burnie might come up in discussions by Heat fans, who likely debate whether he was a rejected Muppets character or the result of a horrible experiment to cross a bird with a basketball.

No. 23 – Houston Rockets: Clutch

One motorcycle-riding bear in the NBA is enough. And that’s the good part; it’s all downhill from there.

First, Clutch the Bear has absolutely nothing to do with rockets. That much is obvious.

Next, he doesn’t even look like a bear, and actually bears more resemblance to a mouse.

And his name – Clutch the Bear. Really? He looks cute enough, so why give him a name that’s just plain odd? Who knows what was going through “Game of Thrones” actress Emilia Clarke’s head when this unusual mascot recognized her in the front row of the crowd during a game, dropped his coffee and went on bended knee in front of the “Mother of Dragons.”

No. 22 – Washington Wizards: G-Man/G-Wiz

The Wizards are another team with multiple mascots, but both of theirs are equally strange. The first is G-Man. The Wizards could’ve done better than a full skinsuit that’s bulging with huge fake muscles. The other, G-Wiz, at least has a red wizard’s hat and looks a bit more like a magical creature.

And there’s no doubt G-Wiz bears a striking resemblance to Gonzo, another bird-like Muppet from the hit TV and movie series. Either way, we wouldn’t be surprised if Wizards fans have nightmares about either of these mascots.

No. 21 – Cleveland Cavaliers: Sir CC/Moondog

C is for “confusion” in this case. The reason for coming in at 21st in the standings is that Cleveland fans have to really go far to get the meaning behind Sir CC and Moondog, the team’s mascots.

Sir CC is a cavalier (a soldier from the 17th-century English Civil War), but a cavalier back then probably would not have had a loyal hound named Moondog. As it turns out, the original Moondog was named after the famous Cleveland rock DJ, Alan Freed.

But why? Surely it would have made more sense to pick another name? These two mascots might have made more sense as characters on the front of a cereal box rather than the faces of a professional basketball team.

No. 20 – LA Clippers: Chuck

​Chuck was introduced to Clippers’ fans in February 2016. The pink and blue bird is loosely based on the California condor – North America’s biggest land bird with an almost 10-foot wingspan, which can reach speeds of 56 mph and fly as high as 15,100 feet.

But Chuck’s gone down like a lead balloon with fans. But ask yourself which you would prefer: an odd-looking cartoon vulture, or a cartoon man called Sam Dunk, the now-retired mascot who looked like he had the face of a 90-year-old? Poor Sam looked like he might have struggled to pick the ball up, let alone go for a dunk.

No. 19 – Indiana Pacers: Boomer

If your good-luck charm is meant to be a noble, hard-working horse, why would you use a big cat to represent your team? At least Boomer, the new mascot, looks better than Bowser, their previous dog mascot.

And fans had a good time laughing when Boomer tried to do a flip off a trampoline and lost his head.

No. 18 – Utah Jazz: Jazz Bear

Nothing personal, Jazz Bear. You deserve respect for the sheer commitment you’ve shown over the years.

But this mascot has caused confusion. There are black bears in Utah, but Jazz Bear isn’t black – and the jazz connection isn’t clear either. Maybe Jazz Bear likes to listen to some tuneful jazz when he’s relaxing after a hard day’s work?

No. 17 – Atlanta Hawks: Harry

This started so well when Atlanta got the animal right. A hawk to represent the Hawks.

This new mascot could have been a slam dunk, but it missed by a mile. At the very least, Harry can stand up to his critics and say he nailed a half-court shot while facing backward.

No. 16 – Portland Trail Blazers: Blaze

This mascot was always going to need some creativity. There isn’t an animal that exactly jumps out at you when you say “Trail Blazers.”

But Blaze, a “trail cat,” isn’t great. For one thing, the cat-mascot angle has been done to death, and the shiny red bodysuit and silver underpants would look better on the Rockets’ Clutch the Bear.

But some might say that something’s better than nothing, and prior to Blaze, the Trail Blazers didn’t even have a mascot.

No. 15 – Milwaukee Bucks: Bango

Bango the Buck gets points because it isn’t easy doing high-flying dunks and daring stunts when you’re that cute and cuddly.

What’s more, he’s not short of dedication to the team. Bango’s been getting the job done since 1977. He’s even been an NBA Mascot of the Year and was voted first “Most Awesome Mascot” by Cartoon Network.

No. 14 – Memphis Grizzlies: Grizz

It turns out the only grizzlies in Memphis are basketball players. In Tennessee, the only bears are black bears. So somebody got mixed up here, but at least the Grizzlies stuck to their name.

Grizz does jump through fiery hoops. When he’s not seen wearing his Memphis Grizzlies uniform, he can be spotted with his superhero-influenced blue and yellow suit.

This is clearly one of the better attempts at spicing up a mascot. Grizz could probably be the star of his own Saturday-morning cartoon.

No. 13 – Detroit Pistons: Hooper

It’s understandable why certain decisions were made when it came to the mascot for the Detroit Pistons. A talking motorcycle or car would’ve been weird, and the costume logistics would have been a total nightmare.

The next best thing? Hooper the Horse.

No. 12 – Minnesota Timberwolves: Crunch

“Crunch the Wolf” is one of the best-looking basketball mascots out there, and he has a cool backstory. He was “born” in a Minnesota forest and grew up loving basketball.

When Minnesota’s Timberwolves came to town, Crunch said goodbye to all he’d known and migrated south to the Twin Cities. It’s said he now has a den somewhere deep inside the Target Center and is lured out on game days by the deafening howl of Wolves fans.

No. 11 – Oklahoma City Thunder: Rumble

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Rumble the Bison is fierce, athletic and actually looks like a bison.

But some might be wondering what a bison has to do with thunder. Sure, these beasts may not seem that thunderous on their own, but when they stampede, they create a sound that some say is similar to thunder.

No. 10 – Charlotte Hornets: Hugo

With all the cats and bears around, Hugo the Hornet is a breath of fresh air. Hugo has cool, Jordan-clad feet and is a four-time winner of the NBA Mascot Slam Dunk Championship.

He’s a mascot of some pedigree, too, having been created in 1988 by Cheryl Henson, daughter of the late, great Jim Henson of “The Muppets.” It’s no surprise that Hugo cracks the top 10.

No. 9 – Sacramento Kings: Slamson

The Sacramento Kings’ Slamson the Lion is a lot more realistic than he was back in 1997, and his name is great as well.

But one can’t help but notice that Sacramento has plenty of animals but no lions. And Slamson looks like he might be more at home on the set of “The Wizard of Oz.” Still, this powerful-looking lion definitely has more of a presence than many other NBA mascots.

No. 8 – Phoenix Suns: Go

Gorillas rarely call Phoenix, Arizona, home. But one does, and that’s Go the Gorilla.

Nobody messes with the pioneer of trampoline dunks, not even those he pulls his legendary pranks on.

No. 7 – Boston Celtics: Lucky

“Lucky the Leprechaun” is another mascot that makes sense. The pipe-smoking, green-waistcoated, shamrock-adorned leprechaun is the perfect symbol for his team given the obvious Celtic connection.

He’s undoubtedly adored by fans. He’s highly entertaining.

No. 6 – San Antonio Spurs: The Coyote

You’ll find plenty of coyotes in Texas and, as far as coyotes go, The Coyote is a snazzy dresser.

But it would be great if the San Antonio Spurs would do something about those eyes, which look like he’s been using green eye drops.

No. 5 – Orlando Magic: Stuff

Stuff the Magic Dragon should be at the worst end of this list, but what could the Magic do with a name like theirs? Not much, so they did the only thing they could do. They went way over the top with a fluffy, green magical creature with floppy pink ears and a blue unibrow that can shoot “fire” out of his nostrils.

Cute and colorful, Stuff is undoubtedly a mascot that could make a regular appearance on a number of children’s shows.

No. 4 – Toronto Raptors: The Raptor

The Raptors get points for not shying away from the obvious dinosaur connection, even though it would’ve been safer to go with a horse, bear or bird instead.

Thankfully they decided on a red velociraptor in basketball shoes and jersey. The Raptor has been entertaining over the years.

No. 3 – Denver Nuggets: Rocky

A mountain lion is hardly a nugget, but what were the Denver Nuggets supposed to do? They went with Rocky the Mountain Lion in 1990, a lion mascot that looks like he’s related to Tony the Tiger.

Rocky has a cute and fun look that appeals to younger fans. It’s no surprise he’s No. 3 on this list.

No. 2 – New Orleans Pelicans: Pierre

Pierre the Pelican had an unsettling reputation for scaring kids and making fans cry before he got a facelift in 2013.

Now he’s all about giving fans an enjoyable game experience.

No. 1 – Chicago Bulls: Benny

The best things about Benny the Bull are his horns and unibrow. Benny can dunk, and he’s also a fearsome entertainer.

After more than 50 years, Benny shows no signs of slowing down.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.