Pendulous Skin (West Edition)
The Plissken Mascot Spectacular reaches its exciting conclusion today with the breakdown of the Western Conference. For those who missed my look at the Eastern Conference mascots, I’m interested in how mascots match up with their respective franchises. The only mascots to get my arbitrary “perfect fit” ranking in the East were Benny (Bulls), Hooper the Horse (Detroit), and Harry Hawk (Atlanta), so the West teams have the chance to assert dominance in this field, too. However, I imagine they'll have a tough time rivaling the supreme insanity of Stuff the Magic Dragon (Orlando), Rufus Lynx (Charlotte), Bowser the Dog (Indiana), Hip Hop the Rabbit (Philly), and Burnie (Miami). Let’s git to gittin’.
Mascot: Rocky the Cougar
Description: Golden boy cougar
Strengths: Clean, classic mascot look.
Weaknesses: Must have some skeletons in his closet.
Fit with Current Team: Pretty awful. AI, Melo, and JR Smith all have less-than-clean reputations.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Eduardo Najera (aesthetically)
Description: Asshole wolf
Strengths: Being a dick.
Weaknesses: Making friends.
Fit with Current Team: Pretty good. I can’t imagine anyone’s too excited to be playing for the T-Wolves these days, so reactions like these from Crunch make sense.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Rashad McCants
Portland Trail Blazers
Mascot: Blaze the Trail Cat
Description: Gray mountain lion modeled on the Pink Panther
Strengths: Appears to be a solid mascot with no awful history.
Weaknesses: A bit uninspiring.
Fit with Current Team: Decent. “Good citizen” label fits, but this Blazers team is going to eat faces. Blaze needs to find his animal core if he wants to roll with Oden and Roy.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Channing Frye
(many thanks to Bethlehem Shoals for recently posting the video)
Description: Hairier Chewbacca or taller, cleaned-up Cousin Itt
Strengths: The coolest-looking mascot in the league.
Weaknesses: Image threatens to eclipse solid skills as mascot.
Fit with Current Team: Up in the air. New ownership appears to be looking for fresh start with rookies and new city, which would render Squatch irrelevant. (Note: Squatch is maybe the best reason to keep the Sonics in Seattle.)
Closest Match on Current Roster: Robert Swift
Description: Karl Malone in bear form; “The Energy Solutions Arena of mascots,” according to Carter
Strengths: Riding motorcycles. Getting the job done.
Weaknesses: Gets said job done in as boring a way as possible. Any endorsement opportunity.
Fit with Current Team: Frustratingly solid. Current team is capable of playing an exciting brand of basketball (see Warriors series), but Sloan will always make them retreat to structure.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Carlos Boozer
Mascots: Mavs Man and Champ the Horse
Description: Man made out of a basketball and his blue horse
Strengths: Mavs Man always gets first pick on playground because it’s his ball. I’ve never seen a blue horse before, and I wanted to see a blue horse.
Weaknesses: Least imaginative names ever. Bring nothing new to the table.
Fit with Current Team: Awful. Call Dirk a loser if you want, but the Mavericks are fun. DeSagana, Dirk, and Pops are great names, too.
Closest Matches on Current Roster: Josh Howard (Mavs Man if he were a real player) and Greg Buckner (Champ the Horse)
Mascot: Clutch the Bear
Description: Most adorable bear in the universe on the surface, absolute terror underneath
Strengths: Harmless facade tricks victims into false sense of safety.
Weaknesses: Occasionally takes the joke too far, albeit hilariously.
Fit with Current Team: Almost perfect. Most of team looks extremely harmless/disinterested on surface (T-Mac, Yao, Franchise), but amazing talents lie dormant just waiting to strike. The only issue is that Clutch’s name doesn’t jive with recent performances in the playoffs.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Tracy McGrady
Description: A bluish grizzly bear
Strengths: Eating Timothy Treadwell.
Weaknesses: Even more unimaginative name than “Mavs Man.” Sandwiches.
Fit with Current Team: Poor. Will need to improve conditioning if he wants to run with Iavaroni.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Damon Stoudamire
New Orleans Hornets
Description: A slightly effeminate teal hornet
Strengths: Funny without being inexplicable.
Weaknesses: Feels like a holdover from another era.
Fit with Current Team: Poor. Hornets are clearly going in another direction, but Hugo’s still in the spotlight.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Peja Stojakovic
San Antonio Spurs
Mascot: The Coyote
Description: Basehead coyote
Strengths: Ruthless killer.
Weaknesses: Kills for drug money.
Fit with Current Team: Egregiously terrible. Lacks even keel needed to play in Pop’s system.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Marcus Williams (the one from Arizona)
Golden State Warriors
Description: Anthropomorphized blue spandex
Strengths: Extremely athletic.
Weaknesses: Way too clean of a look.
Fit with Current Team: Could do worse. Athleticism would buy him minutes on the wing, but not rough enough around the edges to be a team leader.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Mickael Pietrus (and even he’s too rough. That makes me proud.)
Los Angeles Clippers
Mascot: Frankie Muniz (Billy Crystal a better choice as a fan, but Frankie is more of a mascot and needs the work)
Description: Has-been actor at age 21
Strengths: Apparently owns a lot of fast cars.
Weaknesses: Clearly became a Clippers fan just so he’d be a recognizable celebrity. No longer a celebrity.
Fit with Current Team: Solid. Only time will tell if the playoff success of two seasons ago was a fluke, but for now I’m willing to put the Clippers way above Frankie on the Hollywood power rankings.
Fit with Historical Team: Perfect. The Clippers will always play fifth fiddle to the Lakers in LA.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Jared Jordan
Los Angeles Lakers
Mascot: Mulholland Man
Description: Jack Nicholson
Strengths: Coolest guy in his profession. Winner of multiple Academy Awards.
Weaknesses: Devolved into self-parody. Drugs.
Fit with Current Team: Perfect. Lakers still hold a lot of sway over the NBA landscape, but they’re seriously diminished when compared to their past champions.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Phil Jackson
Description: Trampolining gorilla in people clothes
Strengths: Experience. Flashy without being obnoxious.
Weaknesses: Hasn’t changed game much in recent years.
Fit with Current Team: Nearly perfect. Suns have spent a few years in D’Antoni Ball, but it may be time for them to admit they need some new pieces.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Steve Nash
Mascot: Slamson the Lion
Description: Entirely nondescript lion
Strengths: Fairly regal look. Unintentionally hilarious name.
Weaknesses: Boring in its simplicity.
Fit with Current Team: Great. The Kings haven’t been too interesting for a while now.
Closest Match on Current Roster: Spencer Hawes
What Did We Learn?
The West might be the vastly superior conference on the court, but—with a few notable exceptions (e.g. Squatch, Clutch, Mulholland Man)—it can’t compete with the East in terms of sheer mascot lunacy and relevancy.