World of Sport

NBA team’s mascot terrifies team’s stars with superb prank

Most of the time, an NBA team's inflatable mascot serves to brighten our days, whether through elaborate and often delightfully chaotic dance numbers or by providing an airy synthetic Trojan horse deployed by our beloved for a marriage proposal. (You might not have experienced that last one personally.) Sometimes, though, the lovable bouncers can be used to inspire fear ... like, for example, after one recent Houston Rockets practice:

On one hand, it is something of a shame to see Inflatable Clutch used for the purpose of frightening folks, like he is some sort of Inflatable The BrooklyKnight or Inflatable Pierre the Pelican. (One wonders if inflatable versions of those nightmarish ghouls would be any less creepy than their standard forms. One doubts this.) On the other hand, though, a quick little fright's certainly not the worst thing Clutch can do to you, so the Rockets should count themselves lucky; they got off light.

It's anyone's guess how much of this is faked — Dwight Howard's throw-my-personal-electronic-device-in-the-air reaction seemed quite a bit more dramatic than his reaction to actually being surprised by Milwaukee Bucks mascot Bango last season — but I'm hoping "not very much," if only because Francisco Garcia's calm, cool non-reply would lose a bit of its panache if it turned out he'd gotten a head's up prior to exiting the tunnel. I do think I'd enjoy the fisticuffs-heavy responses of Omri Casspi and Ronnie Brewer even if they were scripted, though. (This also makes me think that the Rockets would have to be very careful if they pursued Robin Lopez in a potential Omri Casspi deal. Given Robin'sfeelings toward mascots, Clutch might get himself lumped up.)

All in all, a good surprising time seems to have been had by most, so good on ya, Inflatable Clutch. If you find yourself at a loss the next time you're looking to weird out Houston's players, call up your boy Slamson. He's got some next-level-creepy ideas.

Ronnie Brewer nearly loses his lunch.