- 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.
Had to make sure Dallas was ALL IN this morning! 💯💯💯 pic.twitter.com/JxwKtlsVov
— Mavericks Champ (@dallasmavschamp) August 25, 2020
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.
— Franklin the Dog (@SixersFranklin) October 9, 2022
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.
— Xfinity Racing (@XfinityRacing) November 2, 2016
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.”
Queen Daenerys Targaryen @emiliaclarke at #HoustonRockets game. #BendTheKnee #MotherofDragons #GOT #GameofThrones #EmiliaClarke #Houston #Clutch (All video rights to @HoustonRockets, Et al.) pic.twitter.com/cxlu2QvUAm
— Alan Berry (@Mr23779) May 11, 2019
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.
stubbed my toe walking to the bathroom last night but i am feeling a lot better this morning pic.twitter.com/45FNtXxQtW
— G-Wiz (@WizardsGWiz) October 7, 2022
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.
— Sir CC (@CavsSirCC) September 26, 2022
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.
— FOX 11 Los Angeles (@FOXLA) March 2, 2016
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.
Ok Boomer pic.twitter.com/EsHOSljTYK
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) November 4, 2019
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?
.@utahjazz mascot pops in for a special appearance with @BillLand & @seanelliott_32 on the @spurs broadcast – and lets the guys know about his bat catching abilities 😂😂@SpursCoyote can rest easy knowing everyone will be in good hands with Jazz Bear#GoSpursGo | #NBA pic.twitter.com/BNDyXz2T3h
— Bally Sports Southwest (@BallySportsSW) February 9, 2019
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.
— NBA (@NBA) December 11, 2021
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.
It's Blaze's birthday & he has friends in town to celebrate! pic.twitter.com/eTRg8xYOA0
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) March 8, 2020
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.
Midseason form 🔥🔥 https://t.co/dHxbQdTAqq
— Bango (@BucksBango) October 2, 2022
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.
RT if you rock with us 〽️ 😴 pic.twitter.com/BRjW3xlN7l
— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) January 30, 2022
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.
LOGO HOOPER 🤧 🤧 🤧
Peep the Griddy celly 🕺 pic.twitter.com/Tyiih1Y9jv
— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) March 26, 2022
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.
We've got some friends here tonight for Crunch's birthday! Head to section 222 to help celebrate! 🎉 pic.twitter.com/WSYzG6VGo1
— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) February 11, 2017
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.
— Bally Sports Oklahoma (@BallySportsOK) March 30, 2019
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.
On this day in 1987, @HugoTheHornet was unveiled as the Charlotte Hornets mascot! 🐝
FUN FACT: The first Hugo was made at @TheMuppets Studio!
— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) November 12, 2021
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.
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) January 28, 2016
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.
— NBA OUTFITS fr (@NbaOutfit) January 6, 2020
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.
season loading… pic.twitter.com/bI4l17rpeo
— Coyote (@SpursCoyote) October 7, 2022
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.
Stuff gonna Stuff! 🎯 pic.twitter.com/A8yoKLg8jb
— NBA (@NBA) November 14, 2021
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.
— The Raptor (@the_raptor) April 25, 2022
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.
Who pulled the headband off better, Rocky or Jok? 🤣 pic.twitter.com/fOOYlwvAxZ
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) April 8, 2022
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.
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) March 9, 2019
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.
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) December 10, 2019
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