It’s All-Star Weekend in New York City, as the biggest and best of the NBA come together to show fans what they already know: that these players are really, really good at basketball. The game may be growing a bit more team-orientated lately, to the enjoyment of college basketball fans who have criticized the NBA for years. But these guys are still the best of the best to play the game.
This weekend isn’t just about showcasing the next United States Dream Team to take gold at the next Summer Olympic Games. There’s another Dream Team out there, one I’ve loved since childhood. And much like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, I will still stop everything to watch them on television.
They are the mascots, and they deserve our recognition. So much so that I’ve selected the best for their own NBA all-star team. This team may not make it to center court this weekend to square off against the NBA’s elite players. But you know, way down deep inside, that you would pay a lot of money to see that.
Point Guard: Hugo (Charlotte Hornets)
When it comes to basketball, the point guard is usually considered the quarterback of his team, the mastermind of the play. They may not be the biggest players on the court, but they are usually the fastest, and often one of the best.
Hugo the Hornet probably isn’t the fastest mascot — or the smartest — and may not even be the most talented. So why would I make Hugo my point guard?
Because Hugo the Hornet, in any form except his “Spandex Man” form, is what most people think of when they think of NBA mascots. And he returned this season. Call it a tradition selection, like picking a veteran for the game because he’s on a retirement tour, but this is my pick for point guard and I’m sticking to it.
Shooting Guard: Boomer (Indiana Pacers)
Shooting guards are usually one of the flashier players. They can shoot — obviously — and they can drive, which means that they are usually all about scoring. For reference, think Reggie Miller, or Kobe Bryan, or Michael Jordan.
My shooting guard mascot has to be just as flashy, which is why I select Boomer of the Indiana Pacers. So what if he’s a six foot multicolored cat-man that looks like a default mascot when a team runs out of ideas? He can dunk like nobody’s business and is limber enough to dance when he needs to.
Small Forward: Go the Gorilla (Phoenix Suns)
Sometimes scoring needs a little bit of muscle behind it, but not so much that speed is lost. That is usually where the small forward comes in. This position is almost interchangeable with the shooting guard, kind of like how New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham can be played at wide receiver.
The mascot who’s big enough and tough enough AND fast enough to play small forward is The Phoenix Suns’ own Go the Gorilla. A gorilla, in Arizona? Why not. Go was good enough to top Hugo once in a while back in the 90s, so he’s good enough to take passes from Hugo on this team.
Power Forward: Rumble the Bison (Oklahoma City Thunder)
When it comes to getting dirty on the basketball court, no one does it like the power forward. They are big men that can move, unlike most pure centers that usually stand in the paint and put their arms up. This leads to big blocks and big dunks.
For my mascot team, I took the dirtiest mascot of the bunch: Rumble the Bison of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s grown up quite a bit from his days as Squatch for the Seattle Supersonics, but still has the moves to be more than a T-shirt launcher.
Center: Stuff the Magic Dragon (Orlando Magic)
When it comes to being a center, there is one rule that ascends all other rules: you are the biggest player on your team.
Sure, you need talent, too. This is the NBA, not basketball in my uncle’s driveway while he listens to Journey. But everyone in the NBA is talented. This most talented big guy is almost automatically the center.
As far as mascots go, Stuff the Magic Dragon of the Orlando Magic seems to be my BMOC (Big Man On Court). He’s as tall as Andrew Nicholson in this picture, who happens to be 6’9″. Yes, Nicholson is a forward, but that’s big for a mascot. Until all the NBA mascots line up for measurements, Stuff is the center on my mascot team.
Mascot: Moondog (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Mascots don’t need to be good at basketball. They just need to be able to excite a crowd in new and revolutionary ways. Introducing Moondog of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In just the past few weeks, Moondog has taken on at least two NBA players on the court and on Twitter. Moondog has some sort of Twitter feud going on with Robin Lopez of the Portland Trail Blazers, which takes skills considering the size of Moondog’s paws in relation to a computer keyboard. And just last week, Moondog stepped to Jordan Clarkson of the Los Angeles Lakers right in the middle of a game.
That’s the kind of mascot I want as mascot to my mascots.
Patrick Emmel is a sports humorist who once punted a soccer ball fifty yards to his teammate, who then scored the only goal for his college intramural soccer team’s season. Seriously, that kick was placed PERFECTLY. He is also still a believer that Colt McCoy is going to break out as an NFL quarterback. You can read more of his obnoxious commentary at This Jeer In Sports and heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.