Mascots figure in fierce fray in the NBA | Inquirer Sports
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Mascots figure in fierce fray in the NBA

/ 05:15 AM October 19, 2018

The 73rd regular season of the National Basketball Association opened Tuesday night (Wednesday in Manila) with two games pitting storied rivals.

The Boston Celtics defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, 105-87, at home at TD Garden. The Golden State Warriors, the defending champs of the world’s premier basketball league, frustrated the Oklahoma City Thunder, 108-100, after receiving their championship rings also at home at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

More games featuring the league’s traditional archenemies will unfold in the next eight months. But none could be more entertainingly heated than the long-running feud spotlighting the Chicago Bulls’ gentle giant Robin Lopez and the NBA’s mascots.

Unlike its local cousin, the Philippine Basketball Association, the NBA employs full-time mascots and pays them as much as $100,000 a year (more than P5.3 million).

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The NBA’s furry cheerleaders not only have to be goofy while roaming the hard court and arena concourses. They also have to promote their teams by serving as roving brand ambassadors representing their respective cities to generate revenue and create lifelong fans.

Oddly enough, two of the league’s most profitable franchises, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Warriors, do not have mascots.

The 7-foot Lopez has playfully tangled with the mascots for years, including the best ones like Raptor, Bongo the Buck, Go the Gorilla, Pierre the Pelican, and Slamson the Lion.

After the home team’s jokester baits him to make a fool of himself, Lopez appears to follow a script to spark a beef by pushing the mascot to the floor or beating it with its props.

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It’s all in good, clean fun for himself and Lopez admits that he likes to horse around to calm his nerves while playing before games away from the  United Center, the Bulls’ home arena.

Chicago starts its season on Thursday (Friday in PH) at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, where Franklin the Dog has sparred with Lopez.

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At the start of the regular season, the Golden State Warriors are way above the rest of the league.

The Warriors, with three NBA titles in four years, loaded up on talent while NBA teams were also trying to improve themselves.

Golden State’s front office, led by coach Steve Kerr, waited at the opportune time to make a big move—add DeMarcus Cousins, the best big man the league can buy today.

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The talent-laden Western Conference, easily far superior than the Eastern Conference for the last 15 years, has also enlisted a player who had led his teams to the last eight Eastern Conference finals—LeBron James, now with the Los Angeles Lakers.

TAGS: Boston Celtics, National Basketball association, Philadelphia 76ers

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