When you go to a Los Angeles Lakers game, you’ll see thousands of passionate fans cheering on the Purple and Gold along with a treasure trove of banners hanging from the rafters. But you will not see any mascots.
As long as men and women have put on a costume and danced at NBA games, the Lakers have never had an official mascot. What’s the reason behind that?
The Los Angeles Lakers have never had a mascot
The Minneapolis Lakers franchise was born in 1947, making them one of the oldest franchises in the NBA. But all throughout their history, no mascot has ever paraded around the court during games.
LA is one of four teams in today’s NBA that doesn’t have a mascot, joining the Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, and New York Knicks. However, seeing as how the Nets and Warriors have each had mascots in the past, that leaves the Knicks as the only other team to never have one.
Perhaps the closest the Lakers have been to having an actual mascot is Dancing Barry. Barry Richards was a paid performer who became a staple at the Forum during the Showtime era in the 1980s. However, seeing as how he also performed for the Houston Rockets and Charlotte Hornets, we’re inclined to think he doesn’t fit the bill.
Why don’t the Lakers have a mascot?
Unfortunately, there’s no firm answer for why the Lakers don’t have a mascot. But maybe it’s because the Lakers already have a pair of “mascots” at every game.
A Lakers game at Staples Center (soon to be Crypto.com Arena) will feature two key ingredients. The first is an impressive list of celebrities sitting courtside or close to it. It’s darn near impossible to avoid a celebrity sighting at a Lakers game. So for all we know, Jack Nicholson is already the team’s honorary mascot.
The second thing you’ll always see are the Laker Girls. Former owner Jerry Buss had a vision of turning Lakers games into a rowdy, college-like atmosphere. So to achieve that goal, he naturally brought together a group of college-aged girls to dance during games. Now, the Laker Girls are as famous as any anthropomorphic animal another NBA team would trot out on a nightly basis.
Jeanie Buss once pitched a mascot idea to her dad
Today, Jeanie Buss is the controlling owner and president of one of the most decorated franchises in professional sports. But when her father Jerry ran the team, Jeanie was coming up with an idea for LA’s first mascot.
In her college years, Jeanie teamed up with friend and Lakers employee Linda Rambis to create a mascot named “Slam Duck”. As Rambis described in Jeff Pearlman’s book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s, Slam Duck was “an edgy duck with a Mohawk and a piercing.”
“We hired a cartoonist to draw him up, and we thought we could send him to schools instead of the players,” Rambis said in Showtime. “Dr. Buss looked at it and said, ‘No way. No possible way.’ In hindsight, he was right. But the duck was cute.”
It’s doubtful the Lakers will ever have an “official” mascot. But if they decide to break tradition, Jeanie is in a position of power to make Slam Duck a reality.