Mascots have a tried and true place in the NBA world. Not only do they entertain fans with on-court antics, but they also rally fans at crucial points in the game. Secondary roles include firing off t-shirt cannons and, occasionally, getting beat up by opposing players like Milwaukee Bucks center Robin Lopez.
Most NBA teams have mascots who directly tie back to the name of the franchise. A few teams, however, don’t have a mascot at all, including one of the most historic franchises in the sport. So, why don’t the New York Knicks have a mascot?
No, the Knicks don’t have a mascot
The NBA currently has four teams without official mascots: the Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, and New York Knicks. This list also included the Los Angeles Clippers until 2016. This was the year the Clippers unveiled their mascot Chuck, a surprisingly disturbing California condor.
Of the four teams currently lacking a mascot, two of them used to have one. The Brooklyn Nets had a mascot called BrooklynKnight for two seasons. The team canned that mascot in 2014 to the relief of many Nets fans. The Warriors actually have two ex-mascots in their history: Berserker and Thunder.
Only two teams have never had a mascot in the entire course of the franchise: the Lakers and Knicks. Ultimately, nobody knows quite why this is the case. However, for the Knicks, part of the reason has to do with the origin of the team’s name, which simply doesn’t lend itself to a mascot.
The history of the Knicks’ name
The Dutch were some of the earliest settlers in what eventually became New York City. At the time, in the 1600s, Dutch settlers wore a type of pants known as “Knickerbockers.” The Dutch influence in New York was so strong that one of the city’s earliest symbols was a cartoon figure known as Father Knickerbocker.
When New York’s first basketball franchise joined the Basketball Association of America in 1946, team executives had to choose a name. Each wrote a potential name on a slip of paper and put them all in a hat. The slip drawn out was “The Knickerbockers,” a name later shortened to the Knicks.
For the record, we should note that the basketball franchise wasn’t the first sports franchise to call itself the Knicks. Back in 1845, the first organized baseball team chose to call themselves the Knickerbocker Nine.
How a mascot could help the struggling Knicks
To put it mildly, the Knicks haven’t been a good basketball team for a while now. Nobody is quite sure why they struggle so much, although most analysts agree James Dolan ranks among the worst team owners in the league. The Knicks have burned through coaches in recent years, most recently firing David Fizdale in December 2019.
In many ways, it’s a miracle that fans still turn up for Knicks games. Of course, it helps when your team gets to play in one of the most legendary basketball arenas in the U.S.
Still, if the Knicks can’t right the ship and start winning games, they may want to consider adding a mascot. Fans need some kind of distraction to keep them from heading for the doors.
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