When the Toronto Raptors mascot — known as "the Raptor" — tore his (its?) Achilles tendon at a community event this October, the NBA world took the news pretty hard. While mascots are not a primary reason why fans buy tickets, they do add to the atmosphere and excitement of the live experience. The Raptor is widely acknowledged as one of the best of the bunch, and a season without him is an incomplete one.
One player, however, was not sorry to see the Raptor sit out the year. As noted in an interview with Matthew Singer of Willamette Week (via Deadspin), Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez has no love for the sidelined mascot:
Which is the NBA’s most annoying mascot?
The Toronto Raptor. I wish we could go back to Toronto, because he gets my goat. I have a few choice words for that guy.
Can you elaborate on that?
No. He knows.
We can only guess at the root of this beef, but I'm going to guess it has something to do with the Raptor exhibiting clearly un-Raptor-like behavior. Lopez is very serious about his pop culture, and chances are he expects full commitment to the characteristics shown in "Jurassic Park." As we know, no dinosaurs dunk off trampolines in that film. (Although, let's face it, that probably would have made for a better movie.)
Lopez has thoughts on several other NBA mascots, including the Detroit Pistons' Hooper, who got in a bit of a tussle with the center earlier this season, and Pierre the Pelican, who he just missed after moving from New Orleans to Portland this offseason. Lopez has always been forthcoming about his interests as an artist, and it's clear that he has more than a few thoughts on what makes for a proper mascot. Maybe he'll even get into the creature creation business when his career is over.
The full interview is worth your time, because Lopez speaks on everything from his love of Disney to his twin brother Brook's new comic-buying habit (which includes a terrific reference to Bleeding Gums Murphy's $15oo-a-day Faberge egg habit). Oh, and it includes the early favorite for best editor's note of 2014:
What are your top three favorite wizards?
Gandalf’s definitely on the list. Trying to pick my favorite Harry Potter wizard, I can easily go with Dumbledore. I always liked Professor Lupin. I’ll put him on the list. [A day after the interview, Lopez asked via his publicist to take Lupin off his list and replace him with Hermione Granger.]
I got to pick a Disney wizard. Can I pick Angela Lansbury in Bedknobs and Broomsticks?
Yes, the interview does end with a discussion of "Bedknobs and Broomsticks," thanks for asking.
- - - - - - -