Who'd have thought two years ago when I initially ranked the 30 NBA teams' mascots (note, not 30 mascots) that I'd have to update it one year later and then again this year. Not me. But such is life in the dynamic, ever-fickle world of NBA mascots. After an update last September to make sense of Hugo the Hornet returning to Charlotte; Pierre the Pelican being born and then switching beaks; not to mention the euthanasia of the BrooklyKnight, I'm back this year with yet another update.
For sure, not much has changed since last year. In fact, there's only been one new mascot introduced and none have been removed so this should be fairly straightforward. But just for good measure I've shaken things up at the bottom a little and I renew my constant request for change in one NBA city. Let's get right to it. The rankings are, as always, in reverse order.
30. Los Angeles Clippers
Because of the Clippers horrendous 2015 re-brand (and I guess the fact that they signed Paul Pierce away from the Wizards), Los Angeles' second team finishes last in just about everything that I'm ranking that doesn't involve on court play. It's terrible. It's terrible. It's terrible.
Now, there is a report that the Clips are bringing a mascot into the mix. Please don't rush this one, Steve Ballmer. Do it right. I don't have high hopes for this effort based on recent history but at least do enough to get above all the teams without a mascot. For now, you are last in everything.
29. New York Knicks
For the last couple of years, I have generally placed teams without mascots at the bottom of my ranking due to just lack of effort. This year I'm doing the same, but ranking those teams not on emotional concepts like "I used to be a Knicks fan" but instead based on order of finish in the prior NBA season.
Last year the Knicks were a franchise history worst 17-65. The Knickerbockers had never finished with wins starting with a "1" in a season before. Last year they bested, or worsted if you prefer, the poorest Wizards showing since I've been a fan. Bravo, Knicks. Be thankful the Clippers re-branded.
28. Los Angeles Lakers
Speaking of historical worsts…
Just like the Knicks in New York, the Lakers also set a franchise mark for futility in a season in their current city. The Lakers' mark: 21-61. Ouch! It's so bad for their franchise that the list of season by season records on the Lakers' website doesn't even show last season. Their only saving graces? They had one season worse than last year while they were in Minneapolis, the Knicks were worse last year and the Clippers re-brand still sucks.
I expect the link to Lakers' records to be fixed at some point. Just in case the like I provided doesn't work or is corrected…
27. Brooklyn Nets
Last year the Nets got a lot of credit for killing off their awful mascot. This year, they finish where they should based on lack of mascot effort and their on court performance. Think of a new mascot, Brooklyn.
26. Golden State Warriors
The dubs are the highest ranked team without a mascot this year in my mascot rank since they, um, just won the NBA title. Think the Warriors care they don't have a mascot? They shouldn't. Nor should they care about this blog post.
25. Boston Celtics
Still a dude obviously dressed in clothes. I cannot suspend imagination that it's anything but a human. Still last of the teams that actually bother to field a mascot.
24. Miami Heat
I still have no idea how to explain what Burnie is. I still love the name. I'm just at a loss. Not close to being passed by the C's but still last of the actual mascots.
Spots 23-17 are my non-sequitur spots. Mostly. These are mascots who when I look at them I have no idea what the team name would be. So just to prove a point, the teams are listed with their team names based on their mascots.
23. Houston Bears
The Houston franchise's mascot is named Clutch. Clutch is a bear. Should be a rocket I think. I'd settle for an astronaut.
22. Indiana Cats
Indiana's mascot is named Boomer. He's a cat. I'd take a horse or a racecar here. See my first discussion of Indiana's mascot for an explanation why.
21. Portland Cats
I guess it would be really confusing if two teams had the same nickname but that's the way it is. Blaze, like Boomer before him, is a pussy cat. I get that the Portland franchise has it tough mascot wise but nobody forced them to be called the Trail Blazers.
20. Toronto Raptors
OK, so Toronto's mascot is perfect for their name. Their name is just terrible. Huskies, please, Toronto.
|Come on, Phoenix. You KNOW you want this guy as your mascot, right?|
19. Phoenix Gorillas
I still can't fathom why the Phoenix team has an ape for a mascot and I still don't like it. Moreover, I still can't believe this mascot is revered by NBA fans. I've already pointed out a couple of times that scrapping Go the Gorilla would involve a small under the table payment to a certain breakfast sausage maker. You could even hire the same guy who plays the sun on the Jimmy Dean commercials, I'm sure. And yes, I know that it's obviously a dude dressed up as a sun and therefore should get the same scrutiny as the Celtics' obviously human mascot but I promise I'll rank you higher. Promise!
18. Memphis Pig-Bears
Squint and you could believe that Grizz the Bear is actually a bear. Or you could just as easily get a furry pig. Again, see my first discussion for the whole story. At least change the fur color to grizzly bear color, Memphis.
17. Utah Bears
What's the deal with bears and cats as mascots for teams not named the bears or cats? Utah's got the best looking one of the bunch so they finish highest. In a fight, I'm taking the Jazz Bear over Clutch any day.
16. Philadelphia Dogs
The Philadelphia franchise has the only new mascot this off-season and it's I guess good enough to finish at the top of the non sequitur group. Barely.
Philadelphia's new entry into the world of mascots is not a 76er as their actual franchise name would suggest. Nor is it a rabbit like their last mascot, Hip Hop (thank God!). Nope, it's some sort of blue cartoon-y dog named Franklin who vaguely resembles the dog Blue from the Blue's Clues kids book.
On the relevance scale, I'd say Franklin has none. He's passable on the appearance scale; I mean he's not ugly, is clearly not a cross species hybrid like Memphis' mascot and he has home and away jerseys which I love but also don't get (since mascots don't go to road games). The name is perfect for Philadelphia especially considering their introduction of a dribbling Ben Franklin as one of their alternate logos.
Franklin's an improvement over nothing, I guess, but he's only this high because NBA teams cannot for the life of them produce good mascots. We'll see how long the good people of Philadelphia let him stay around. On the other hand, that might be a while. Does anyone even go to Sixers' games anymore?
15. Cleveland Cavaliers
I still love Moondog. I still don't like C.C. I also still don't like the Cavaliers. Stuck in 15th again.
14. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Wolves have a wolf for their mascot. Awesome. It's still the worst looking relevant mascot of teams that have acceptable team names (see Toronto above for unacceptable team names).
13. Dallas Mavericks
Dallas' mascot is named champ. Might want to re-think that name soon. Maybe Former Champ?
12. Sacramento Kings
I still love Slamson's name and the fact that he's a lion. But man, this thing is not attractive at all.
11. Detroit Pistons
The Pistons are still getting more out of nothing than any other franchise with their mascot, Hooper. It's just not as good as the ten ahead of it.
10. New Orleans Pelicans
Pierre stays strong as the number ten entry in the Big Easy. I'll be down December 11 for the Wizards' annual game. Save me a seat. We can discuss how you can move up over a bowl of gumbo after the game.
9. Oklahoma City Thunder
What the Thunder can't do with their name and logo (that is...come up with a good one), they knock it out of the park and more with Rumble the Bison. How more perfect a mascot for a team in Oklahoma is there? I can't think of one. Consider a re-brand but don't get rid of Rumble.
8. Atlanta Hawks
Harry the Hawk drops a spot this year to eighth strictly on my kind imaginings of what this mascot is going to look like in that awful new Mr. Yuk green that the Hawks decided to use for one of their uni colors this year. I'll wait and see what happens but it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility for Harry to be much lower next year.
7. San Antonio Spurs
The first classic mascot that is not a gorilla in my opinion. Moves up a notch because the Hawks can't leave well enough alone. Probably belonged ahead of the Hawks anyway.
6. Denver Nuggets
Unlike Harry the Hawk, Rocky the Mountain Lion is good in any color. Holding strong at number six for the second year in a row.
5. Milwaukee Bucks
I love the Milwaukee Bucks' new colors and logos. Bango won't miss a beat in his new duds. Still have a soft spot for Milwaukee based on my trip there a couple of years ago but it's not affecting my ranking of Bango. Solid all around.
4. Chicago Bulls
You can't be the best in everything, Chicago. You won my logo rank earlier this summer. Benny stays (legitimately) at number four. And I really don't see any way you can move up unless the three ahead of you mess something up.
3. Orlando Magic
I still think Stuff is a crazy good mascot. Perfect look, perfect name and totally relevant. Nowhere else but Orlando…
2. Charlotte Hornets
Of all the classic mascots, Hugo is for sure the best. Pretty much perfect in every way. Just to clarify, my classic mascots sit at numbers seven, six, five, four and two in this ranking. And OK, if you want to include Go the Gorilla here, that's fine too. Those six are the Mount Rushmore plus two of NBA mascots. However, he's still not number one.
1. Washington Wizards
That's right, G Wiz is number one in my mascot rank for the third year in a row. How can you get any more awesome than this mascot? I don't see this ranking changing any time soon. Don't screw this one up Wizards.
Two disclaimers as usual here. (1) This is not a homer pick. G Wiz looks awesome, the name is relevant and he represents the nickname of the Washington franchise. (2) I'm pretending G Man doesn't exist.
45 Days to the season opener. I cannot wait!!!!