There has long been held a debate over whether mascots actually contribute anything to sports and whether they should even be around. The NBA is no different, as many teams in the league have mascots, but a select few have withheld for this long.
To all of those mascot naysayers out there, I call shenanigans. There is no reason to dislike a man wearing a giant furry foam suit unique to that basketball team, helping to entertain the more easily distracted during the television timeouts of NBA games.
I say if it keeps people involved in something—anything related to basketball—then I'm all for it.
However, there is one argument from the con side of the mascot argument that I cannot deny: Many, if not most of the mascots out there, are scary beasts that seem to come out of the deepest circle of hell.
While some of them may start to look cooler with age, especially with so many of them looking like Star Wars characters, most of them would have scared the living daylights out of me were I still a small child. Hell, a select few still scare me to this day.
So, which ones should you keep the toddlers away from? I would say all of them, but these guys in particular are the leaders out of the gate in terms of tears collected over the years.
I'd never looked at Gonzo and thought he would make a good basketball mascot, but apparently, the guys running the Wizards had other things on their minds.
The guys in Washington took Gonzo, blew him up to about 14 times his original size, gave him a smug look, threw some pink fluff around his eyes, threw a wizard hat on his head and a Wizards jersey on him and called it a day.
I can't think of a simpler way to create a mascot, but nonetheless, this mascot from another planet seems like he would give children fits.
There are some mascots that don't make sense, and there are some that are so brilliant that I can't stand it.
The scientific name for a bobcat is "Lynx rufus," so all the Bobcats had to do was flip that around, give the guy a cool middle initial and, boom, mascot.
However, the execution of the actual mascot leaves everyone a bit more frightened than they should be.
Mr. Lynx is nothing but a big orange, amorphous blob of foam rubber wearing sunglasses. There is little definition in much else, and it seems as if that shock of orange and those sunglasses would really freak a child out.
I have no clue what this ungodly creature is, and I'm not sure I actually want to find out because what I have pictured in my mind is so much more appealing.
Whenever I see Burnie, Miami's mascot, I see the father of Beaker, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew's lab assistant crossed with a giant orange bird with a basketball for a nose.
This guy isn't particularly scary because of frightening features or anything like that, but the mere fact that I can't find his mouth kind of freaks me out. And the whole deal with him having a basketball for a nose seems like it would freak a kid out a bit more than a mascot should.
Upon first look, Slamson is no more than your average, everyday lion mascot who has the proper amount of creepy surrounding him—just like most mascots.
However, more time inspecting his face and different angles tell a different story. All you need is one look from the side, and you'll realize what makes Slamson so creepy.
Besides those deep-set eyes making Slamson's head look like an empty skull, the big lion is balding, with most of his mane encircling his face perfectly, starting from the peak of his head to the base of his neck, rather than somewhere on his forehead around to his chin.
I'm not sure why, but this makes the old guy just seem a bit too creepy.
If I've learned one thing over the years, it's this; birds are not good mascots unless the main goal is scaring the bejesus out of kids.
Recently (by which I mean at some point over the past decade), the Columbus Clippers, the Triple-A baseball team from my hometown, introduced a new parrot mascot to go along with Louseal named Crash.
Kids love Louseal, absolutely adore him, but they hate Crash with the entirety of their souls.
What makes Harry the Hawk in comparison to Crash is that Crash actually has a smile on his face. Harry is an intense-looking Hawk with nothing but murder in his eyes. Hell, I'm a bit frightened of him.
Hugo is one of the coolest mascots out there, without a doubt, but I can't help but think that as a child, I would not have appreciated Hugo very much.
First of all, his head looks like they took the design directly from Jabba the Hut, just sucking a bit of fat out along the way and painting it blue.
Then, there's the fact that Hugo the Hornet is a freaking hornet.
One of the scariest parts about mascots to a small child is when they are things that are actually frightening animals, as that basically makes them seem like giant creatures of doom with no other goal but to hurt you.
Go the Gorilla is one mascot that makes no sense that I'm completely okay with.
Go is one of the coolest mascots in the NBA, and along with being one of the most recognizable, the fact that he's a gorilla just makes him that much cooler.
However, it is my experience over the years in Halloween and non-Halloween-based situations that children hate gorillas.
Nothing will send them from smiling to tears faster than a big hairy ape suit, even if it is running around the court, jumping through hoops and dunking from trampolines.
Regardless of whether the SuperSonics are still a team or not, Squatch is just about the most frightening thing that could ever approach a small child, especially if he was toting that T-shirt cannon.
Looking like Chewbacca's cousin from the East, Squatch looks like he was just wandering around the Pacific Northwest until the Sonics' owners wrangled him and trained him to entertain 17,000 people at the same time. I'm assuming the T-shirt-cannon training came later.
All I know is, as cool as this guy looks as a person who is above the age of seven, to a small child, this guy would be nearly as bad as meeting the boogie man.
There's a reason that clowns scare small children; with multiple colors, goofy features and loud, ornery noises coming from every orifice, there are just too many things going on at once.
An oversized nose? That's fine. Colorful costume? No problem. Goofy noises? Sure, why not. But throw all three of them together, and there are just too many things to follow for a little kid.
Add that to the creepy magic wands and pink wings sprouting from his head and what I think are party blowers shooting out of his nose, and you've got a child-scaring machine.
I'm all for NBA mascots looking like Star Wars characters, I loved Squatch looking like Chewbacca, but having an oversized Ewok as your mascot is just a tad too creepy for me—let alone children.
The Jazz Bear has deep-set eyes that are almost impossible to see and an overly furry face for a kid to find appealing.
What I'm curious about is, who thought that this guy looked like a bear? Sure, he's large, brown and furry, but the hair is too long, and his slightly human facial features scream Ewok more than bear.
Are you serious with this thing, San Antonio Spurs? This is something that would haunt my dreams, not something I would want dancing around during a timeout of a Spurs game.
This coyote is a completely normal looking mascot from the tip of his toes to the tip of his nose, but north of his nose completely wrecks the entire coyote. And it only takes one feature to do that.
Those eyes are easily the most frightening thing I've ever seen on a mascot and make him look more like he should replace the rabbit from Donnie Darko, rather than entertain people.
Maybe next time the Spurs create a mascot, they should just go with the Hypno-Toad.
Stuff the Magic Dragon is creepier than a clown, the Spurs' Coyote can steal your soul with his eyes, Hugo the Hornet's head looks creepy like Jabba the Hut's and Go the Gorilla is creepy at best, but Rumble the Bison is the thing nightmares are made of.
When the Sonics were rolling around with Squatch as their mascot, I was sure that no other team could create a hairier, more frightening creature, but the Thunder outdid them by miles.
Looking at this critter playing drums has me convinced that the Thunder just raided the set of Labyrinth and came away with this guy.
If you are one of those twitterers, you can follow me @JDorsey33.