Pendulous Skin (East Edition)
Kevin Garnett coming off the market this week represents the end of intense trade rumors and, to be honest, the event has taken a lot out of me. I’m not burnt out on the offseason quite yet, but I need a break from speculating about Matt Barnes and Mickael Pietrus. So I’m going in the complete opposite direction and writing about mascots.
Basketball mascots aren’t asked to do as much as their counterparts in other sports. In baseball, the mascot can distract fans during the long periods of downtime, while the football mascot parades around the sidelines all game long. Conversely, the basketball mascot must stay close to the court in order to perform during timeouts, but there isn’t enough sideline room or dead time for him to be a genuine attraction during gameplay.
However, as with all aspects of a franchise, the best mascots become extensions of the overarching organizational philosophy. At the very least, a solid mascot will have some of the characteristics of a team’s star or coach. With that in mind, here is Plissken’s look at NBA mascots as they match up with their respective teams. This post tackles East mascots only. Look for the West soon.
Mascot: Lucky the Leprechaun
Description: White guy in a decent St. Patrick’s Day costume
Strengths: Looking like a clown. Offending Irish people. Representative of fanbase.
Weaknesses: Everything else.
Fit with Current Team: Poor at best. KG, Allen, and Pierce will never respect this guy.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Brian Scalabrine (duh)
New Jersey Nets
Mascot: Sly the Fox
Description: Smiling fox with shag of indeterminate color
Strengths: Looking cheerful. Clever. Athletic.
Weaknesses: Hangs out with Michael Douglas. Virtually indistinguishable from a Timberwolf.
Fit with Current Team: Solid. Gets the job done but will never be a true mascot champion.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Jason Kidd beats Richard Jefferson by a hair
New York Knicks
Mascot: Spike Lee (no official mascot)
Description: Simultaneously overrated and unfairly maligned film director
Strengths: Real fan in an industry lacking them. Attends the draft. Gets upset when necessary.
Weaknesses: Lack of recent playoff games has dimmed his fandom star.
Fit with Current Team: Close to perfect. Roster is full of good players making too much money for several successes (Do the Right Thing, 25th Hour) when they’ve had almost as many disappointments (She Hate Me, Summer of Sam). Still, they mostly remain likeable.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Eddy Curry
Mascot: Hip Hop the Rabbit
Description: White man’s approximation of an “urban” rabbit
Strengths: Looking like a rat.
Weaknesses: Constantly looking awkward.
Fit with Current Team: Awful. Andre Miller and Iggy do not deserve this monstrosity.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Shavlik Randolph
Mascot: The Raptor
Description: Red dinosaur of unclear species
Strengths: Looks more like real animal than most mascots. Legitimately scary for young children.
Weaknesses: Lists Jurassic Park III as one of his favorite movies.
Fit with Current Team: Excellent. Still looks fresh. You definitely don’t want to match up against a raptor in the open floor.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Chris Bosh (no brainer)
Description: Shaggy, youthful red bull
Strengths: Perfect for young children.
Weaknesses: Lacks maturity necessary to make him one of the best.
Fit with Current Team: Perfect. Youth wins out, but they need the look of experience.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Tyrus Thomas
Description: Scruff McGruff’s semi-retarded nephew
Strengths: Excitable. Friendly.
Weaknesses: Clearly lacks focus.
Fit with Current Team: Poor. Lack of focus doesn’t jive with defensive intensity and excitable nature doesn’t fit with plodding offense.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Sasha Pavlovic
Mascot: Hooper the Horse
Description: Mostly nondescript horse with flashes of brilliance around the edges
Strengths: Dependable. Occasionally thrilling.
Weaknesses: Large patches of plain costume.
Fit with Current Team: Perfect. Just interesting enough to keep me compelled.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Rip Hamilton, although tempted to pick Sheed for the hair alone
Mascots: Boomer the Panther and Bowser the Dog
Description: A very black cat and his legitimately insane dog friend
Strengths: Bring different kinds of games but add up to make an inexplicably great buddy tandem.
Weaknesses: Panther scares whitebread crowd with his blackness. Dog frightens everyone with his insanity.
Fit with Current Team: Inarguably terrible. These two are clearly left over from another era of the Pacers.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Jermaine O’Neal (Boomer) and Jamaal Tinsley (Bowser)
Closest Match in Recent Memory: Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson (that wrote itself)
Description: Entirely dependable buck
Strengths: Timeless look. Will never be any less than solid.
Weaknesses: Not exactly the most inspiring mascot around.
Fit with Current Team: Solid. Enough positives to keep people feeling good, but not enough to make the team exciting.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Michael Redd
Mascot: Harry Hawk
Description: A bright red hawk
Strengths: Rides motorcycles on city streets in full costume.
Weaknesses: Beats up little kids.
Fit with Current Team: The best fit in the league. Crazy in both the good and bad ways.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Josh Smith on the floor, Billy Knight in the front office
Mascot: Rufus Lynx
Description: Racistly named orange bobcat
Strengths: Setting back the civil rights movement.
Weaknesses: Everything else.
Fit with Current Team: Outrageously awful. How did Robert Johnson let this happen?
Closest Match on Current Roster: Adam Morrison is the only person on the team who comes close to Rufus Lynx in terms of the amount I dislike them. But I would never compare anyone to Rufus Lynx.
Description: Anthropomorphized ember, Youppi!’s failure cousin
Weaknesses: Likes Jimmy Buffett. Extremely arrogant. Awful in every way.
Fit with Current Team: Unclear. Decent for the aging role players, but a poor fit for Dwyane and Shaq.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Michael Doleac
Mascot: Stuff the Magic Dragon
Description: A dragon in the worst trip imaginable
Strengths: Harshing your buzz. Bright colors attractive to toddlers.
Weaknesses: Being taken seriously by anyone older than 12 months.
Fit with Current Team: Poor. The Rashard Lewis deal signals that the team wants to be taken more seriously in the playoffs, and Stuff looks like a reject costume for Baby Bop on Barney.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Hedo Turkoglu
Mascot: G. Wiz
Description: A shaggy blue thing of indeterminate origin
Strengths: Compelling in its sheer inexplicability. Simultaneously something and nothing. (Note to creator of Burnie: this is how you make a non-thing mascot.)
Weaknesses: Limp nose.
Fit with Current Team: Decent. Team is reasonably well defined as a scoring machine, but something tells me Gilbert would hang out with this guy after games.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Gilbert Arenas