The NBA is known for its fast-paced action, high-flying dunks, and some of the most talented athletes in the world. But there’s another element that adds to the excitement of the game: the mascots. From Harry the Hawk of the Atlanta Hawks to Benny The Bull of the Chicago Bulls, NBA mascots bring a playful and entertaining vibe to the game that fans of all ages love.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at every NBA mascot and what makes them unique. So sit back, relax, and get ready to meet the furry, cartoony, and sometimes downright wacky characters that make up the NBA mascot family.
Current List Of NBA Mascots
Harry The Hawk
Team: Atlanta Hawks
Mascot Design: Hawk
Harry is a red and white hawk with a basketball jersey, Harry represents the Atlanta Hawks and is known for his energetic and acrobatic performances during games. He will often perform high-flying basketball dunks on a trampoline during breaks in the action.
Team: Boston Celtics
Mascot Design: A Leprechaun
Lucky is a green-clad leprechaun with a shamrock on his famous bowler hat, Lucky embodies the Boston Celtics’ Irish heritage and is often seen entertaining fans with his freestyle dunks. What makes Lucky so unique is that he is one of the rare human mascots in sports. Most mascots wear a full costume to hide their true identity but Lucky is out there for the world to see.
Team: Charlotte Hornet
Mascot Design: Hornet
Hugo is a blue and purple hornet with his name embroidered on its chest. Hugo is one of the longest-serving mascots in the NBA and is widely regarded as one of the best. He has won the NBA mascot dunk contest 4 times and was even a secret character in the 1994 legendary video game NBA Jam.
Benny The Bull
Team: Chicago Bulls
Mascot Design: Bull
Benny is a red and black bull with a basketball jersey with the number #1. Benny is one of the most famous NBA mascots of all time and is the original OG basketball mascot. Besides being the first mascot in the NBA he is known for his playful antics with the fans. His signature move is dropping a monster bag of popcorn all over unsuspecting fans in the crowd.
Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
Mascot Design: Dog
Moondog has one of the coolest names in the mascot world. He was actually named after a famous Cleveland DJ who coined the phrase, “Rock and Roll”. The DJ Allan Freed use to refer to himself as the Moondog so the mascot is a nice homage to a city known for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Moondog has mastered the half-court shot performing spectacular behind-the-back shots on a regular basis.
Team: Dallas Mavericks
Mascot Design: Horse
Champ is a blue stallion horse with a long white mane. He wears a basketball jersey with a horseshoe symbol on the front. The mascot is very involved in the community and is often seen around many charity events.
Team: Denver Nuggets
Mascot Design: Mountain Lion
Rocky the Mountain Lion is one of the best-looking mascots not only in the NBA but in all of sports. He reminds me of an old looney tunes character but with a modern design. He is all yellow with an oversized head and often seen performing wild over-the-top stunts and acrobatics.
Team: Detroit Pistons
Mascot Design: Horse
Hooper is a horse mascot but in a more cartoony style than his other horse counterpart Champ. He has a colorful mane with the Piston’s colors of dark blue and red. He has been known to perform some crazy stunts like stilt-walking and even skydiving.
Clutch The Bear
Team: Houston Rockets
Mascot Design: Bear
Despite being one of the more “plain” looking mascots in the NBA, Clutch is very popular. He has won many awards as the top mascot in the league over the years. He has been around for over 20 years and was named after the city’s nickname when they won their first NBA Championship and were given the moniker by local media “Clutch City”.
Team: Indiana Pacers
Mascot Design: Cat/Panther
It’s ironic that the Pacers named their mascot “Boomer” way back in 1991 and now the term has become a slang word for being old. Well while the mascot Boomer may be getting up there in age he is still one of the best in the league and most recognizable among NBA fans.
Chuck The Condor
Team: Los Angeles Clippers
Mascot Design: Condor
The most colorful mascot award goes to Chuck of the Los Angeles Clippers. He is a bright pink mascot with blue fur. He is one of the newest mascots to join the NBA and is a hit with younger fans. He is a perfect mascot for a selfie opportunity as his whole look is very approachable and whimsical.
Team: Memphis Grizzlies
Mascot Design: Bear
One of my personal favorite mascots is Grizz of the Memphis Grizzlies. He actually debuted for the Vancouver Grizzlies, the now-defunct NBA franchise. His look is phenomenal and he has a half-bear, half-werewolf vibe to him. What makes him stand out is his long, fuzzy dark gray fur. It is so well done it almost looks life-like.
Team: Miami Heat
Mascot Design: Fireball
Every league has that wacky mascot that you don’t quite know what they are, think the Philly Fanatic or Youppi in the NHL. Well, enter Burnie for the Miami Heat. He is a red and orange fireball but the face could be mistaken for some sort of bird, a Dodo perhaps. His nose is actually a big green basketball if you look close enough. Despite his awkward look, Burnie has lasted the test of time being in the league for over 25 years.
Team: Milwaukee Bucks
Mascot Design: Moose
Bango is one of the longest-serving NBA mascots debuting way back in 1977. In fact, his first game featured the great Kareem Abdul Jabaar as an opponent that night. He is an old-school-looking mascot with raggedy brown fur and two antlers on his head. He has a bit of a puzzled look on his face showing neither delight nor anger, I think it’s perfect for a mascot that has been around as long as he has.
Crunch The Wolf
Team: Minnesota Timberwolves
Mascot Design: Wolf
Crunch is a perfect mascot for his team which of course is named the Timberwolves. He is a wolf with gray and white fur and big green eyes. He reminds me of a classic depiction of the Big Bad Wolf from the fairytale Little Red Riding Hood. He has a mean mug look on his face which I think is a nice touch as not every mascot has to be friendly looking when it comes to sports teams.
Team: New Orleans Pelicans
Mascot Design: Pelican
Pierre has a funny history to his design. When he first launched in 2013 he looked like a much scarier, horror film-looking mascot than what he is today. The team received so much backlash from his look that in 2014 they redesigned Pierre’s face to look less terrifying and more appealing to children. Today he is a large cartoon-looking pelican with a huge yellow beak. Needless to say, the final version of Pierre is a huge upgrade from his disastrous debut.
Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
Mascot Design: Bison
Rumble is not the kind of mascot you want to run into in a dark alley. He is one of the toughest-looking mascots in the NBA. He is a bison with long shaggy brown hair. He has two strong horns on his head and his face is very menacing. He is a nice change of pace from the usual friendly cartoon-looking mascots.
Stuff The Magic Dragon
Team: Orlando Magic
Mascot Design: Dragon
Stuff The Magic Dragon, whose name is a pun on the Peter, Paul, and Mary song “Puff The Magic Dragon”, is a whimsical and colorful cartoon dragon. He looks like a creation for a Disney animated film with green fur, pink wings, and star antennas on his head. I’ve never been a fan of the “fire” blowers that come out of his nose but I can see how the kids love it. He is one of the most famous NBA mascots of all time.
Team: Philadelphia 76ers
Mascot Design: Dog
Franklin is a blue dog that represents the Philadelphia 76ers. He has a very friendly and warm appearance which to be honest does not really fit the Philadelphia sports scene image. Philly is known as one of the toughest cities to play in for opposing teams and Franklin is not exactly a menacing figure. However, I suppose they were going for a contrast to their image and something the kids would enjoy.
Go The Gorilla
Team: Phoenix Suns
Mascot Design: Gorilla
Arguably Go is the most famous mascot in the NBA, doesn’t mean he is the best, it’s just that he is instantly recognizable throughout North America and has been around for over 25 years. He was known as one of the early high-flying dunk kings when it came to entertainment in the mascot world. His costume is also likely the lowest budget in the NBA. It looks like something you’d find in a thrift store and I guess that’s part of the appeal of Go.
Blaze The Trail Cat
Team: Portland Trailblazers
Mascot Design: Cat
Blaze is a modern-looking alley-cat with silver fur, a heart-shaped nose, and flames for a tail. He is not one of the most well-known mascots in the NBA but overall he is well-designed and a great representative for the Portland team.
Team: Sacramento Kings
Mascot Design: Lion
Slamson is a powerful-looking lion mascot with a long flowing mane. He has an older, wise look on his face and is very popular with young NBA fans. Overall, he is a great mascot for the Kings and much better than their previous mascot which was a gorilla.
Team: San Antonio Spurs
Mascot Design: Coyote
The Coyote is another OG mascot in sports having been introduced back in 1983. He is a simple coyote with brown fur, pointy ears, and huge green eyes. The eyes don’t quite fit the rest of the look for me but I guess it makes the Coyote stand out.
Team: Toronto Raptors
Mascot Design: Velociraptor
The Raptor is one of the best-designed mascots in the NBA and of course, represents the team perfectly as the Toronto Raptors. He was the #95 to mark the year the Raptors franchise entered the NBA. He is a mainstay in the community and one of Toroto’s most recognizable mascots. He is known for goofing around with rapper Drake whenever he attends a game.
Team: Utah Jazz
Mascot Design: Bear
The NBA loves their shaggy bear mascots and Jazz Bear fits the mold. Jazz Bear has the best 1985 Teen Wolf Movie vibe in my opinion, which is a good thing. Jazz has a very shaggy brown fur head and an overall brown body. He is often wearing a headband of some sort.
Team: Washington Wizards
Mascot Design: Raven
G-Wiz is a cute blue raven bird for the Washington Wizards. Raven is not exactly the first thing I think of when looking at G-wiz, he reminds me of Gonzo from the muppets but overall he is very cute and one of the most fan-friendly mascots in the NBA.
Oldest NBA Mascots
These mascots have been a part of the NBA for many years and have a rich history and legacy among fans. Over the years, these mascots have evolved and changed to reflect the changing tastes and preferences of fans but their core look has never changed and they have been mainstay personalities in all their communities. Here are the Top Ten oldest mascots in the NBA.
- Benny The Bull (1969) – Chicago Bulls
- Bango The Buck (1977) – Milwaukee Bucks
- The Coyote (1983) – San Antonio Spurs
- Harry The Hawk (1986) – Atlanta Hawks
- Hugo Hornet (1988) – Charlotte Hornets
- Stuff The Magic Dragon (1989) – Orlando Magic
- Rocky Mountain Lion (1990) – Denver Nuggets
- Boomer (1991) – Indiana Pacers
- Burnie (1992) – Miami Heat
- Jazz Bear (1994) – Utah Jazz
History of NBA Mascots
The history of NBA mascots can be traced back to the early 1940s when the Syracuse Nationals introduced a live donkey named “Eddie” as their team mascot. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that mascots became a regular fixture at NBA games. The first team to introduce a full-time, costumed mascot was the Philadelphia 76ers, who introduced “Big Shot” in 1963. Big Shot has since been retired and Benny The Bull serves as the current longest NBA mascot.
In the early days, mascots were primarily used as entertainment during timeouts and breaks in the game. However, as the popularity of mascots grew, teams began to incorporate them more heavily into their marketing and branding efforts. They also started working heavily in communities appearing at numerous charity events.
One notable trend in recent years has been the use of animals as team mascots. From the Denver Nuggets’ Rocky the Mountain Lion to the Detroit Pistons’ Hooper the Horse, many NBA teams have opted for animal mascots that are both fun and playful. Another shift in the style of NBA mascots has been towards a more interactive and engaging experience for fans. Many teams now feature mascots that can perform acrobatic stunts, dance routines, and other entertaining acts during games. In addition, mascots often interact with fans during games, posing for photos and engaging in other fan-friendly activities.
Overall, the evolution of NBA mascots has mirrored the broader changes in sports marketing and entertainment over the years. Today, mascots are an integral part of the NBA experience, adding a fun and playful element to the game while also helping to build team spirit and fan loyalty.