OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -Playing a set of drums as he was lowered to the Ford Center floor, a shaggy-haired and bearded bison named Rumble made his debut as the Oklahoma City Thunder's new mascot Tuesday night in the team's first game after the All-Star break.
Sporting a white Thunder uniform with his name on the back and a tail sticking through the shorts, Rumble missed his first dunk off a pass from a member of the dunk team, falling onto padding laid out under the basket.
He then joined the Thunder Girls for a choreographed dance routine at midcourt before climbing to the top of a 16-foot ladder with a sign reading GET LOUD! He did a backflip from the top of the ladder, but again missed the dunk with a blue, white and gold basketball.
The Thunder concocted a background story for the mascot, saying Rumble helped save the rest of his herd of bison during a ferocious storm before he was stranded alone in the Arbuckle Mountains and was struck by a bolt of lightning that gave him added strength and agility.
ice president of ticket sales and service, said the mascot's name was chosen because it is both the sound of thunder and the sound of bison, which is Oklahoma's state animal.
``The bison is powerful, surprisingly fast, close-knit and travels as a herd, and represents the Thunder in an appropriate way,'' Byrnes said.
A mascot has been noticeably absent from the entertainment portion of the Thunder's gameday operations, particularly after two years with the many faces of New Orleans' Hugo the Hornet mascot during that team's temporary relocation following Hurricane Katrina.
There was the tradition furry mascot version of Hugo, but also a superhero-type spandex outfit, a tinier sidekick version of the mascot and even an inflatable Hugo.
The Thunder - who left the SuperSonics' name, team colors and Sasquatch mascot in Seattle after last year's relocation - filled timeouts with its drum team and acrobatic dunkers, but now has a new star attraction to keep fans cheering.
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