The Phoenix Suns is an American professional basketball team headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. They are part of the National Basketball Association’s Pacific Division of the Western Conference. While we are well aware today that the Suns’ mascot is a Gorilla, did you ever wonder how that happened?
The Phoenix Suns had no official mascot until a fan costumed as a gorilla attended a game. As he was leaving, they asked him to dance under the ring during a timeout, which the audience loved. The fan continued to attend games until he was formally invited to be part of the team.
Phoenix Suns Mascot: The Suns’ Gorilla
The Suns had no official mascot for the first eleven seasons of their NBA history, but this mascot was developed by accident a few years later.
During a home game, a courier for Eastern Onion, a singing telegram service, arrived dressed as a gorilla.
As he was leaving, Coliseum security recommended he do a couple of dances behind the basket during a stoppage, which he did, and the crowd liked. So did the messenger, Henry Rojas, who continued to attend games until he was officially invited to join the squad. An early effort at a mascot used a sunflower suit, but it failed to catch on. The Suns’ Gorilla became one of the NBA’s most well-known mascots.
Fans know the Gorilla as Go for his on-court theatrics, including raising the Phoenix Suns flag, doing slam dunk routines, and energizing the crowd. Go has a made-up backstory in which he comes from the Banana Republic and attends Furman University to further his studies.
Before making his debut with the Phoenix Suns, the Gorilla sent singing telegrams until he came onto the field during a game. His antics grew famous, and the Gorilla has now joined the Phoenix Suns. The Gorilla is noted for his slapstick comedy during games, such as racing the stadium stairs to the Rocky theme and doing dunks before each fourth quarter.
After the 1987 to 1988 season, Rojas quit as the Gorilla and has since been active in various charitable projects. Bob Woolf took up the job and helped create some of Go’s biggest staples. Woolf played the Gorilla from the 1988 to 1989 NBA season until the 2005–06 NBA season.
From the 2006–07 NBA season to the completion of the 2011–12 season, Devin Nelson played Go. After Devin Nelson left, Bob Woolf took over as Go.
In 2005, he was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame and continued to make appearances for charities, schools, hospitals, and local companies. (Source: NBA)
Ranking the NBA Mascots
Among the 26 mascots in the NBA, the Suns’ Gorilla ranked number 4 overall. The Gorilla is among the best and most iconic mascots in the league. What was meant to be a one-time gag during a Suns game in 1980 quickly took the crowd by storm, and the rest is history. No need for a Harambe joke here. (Source: Sports Illustrated)
Who are the Phoenix Suns?
The Suns own the NBA’s fifth-best all-time winning percentage and have the second highest winning percentage of any team to have never won an NBA championship. 11 Hall of Famers have played for Phoenix. In contrast, two, Barkley and Nash, won NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) while playing for the team. (Source: ESPN)