The Dallas Mavericks’ New Mascot Seems to be Like a Rejected Pixar Character

Sports team mascots have evolved over the past few years. In the past they have been icons trying to instill values ​​to fans (especially the young ones) that the team hopes to convey: a mixture of toughness, friendliness, self-confidence and resilience, all wrapped in fur and foam, the family-friendly face of what it means to be rooted for the franchise. Some mascots are more or less human. Ragnar the Viking, who dated the Minnesota Vikings for a long time until retiring from the job in 2015, was just a guy on a motorcycle. Pittsburgh’s Steely McBeam is a giant cartoon character who can still be identified as a person. Other mascots come from the animal kingdom, such as the Houston Texans ‘Toro or the Chicago Bulls’ Benny the Bull, while some take on more abstract, muppet-like shapes, such as the Phillie Phanatic or the Miami Heat’s Burnie. Some are intuitively linked to the franchises they represent – the Toronto Raptors mascot is just Raptor the Raptor – while others, like the Spurs’ Coyote, require more of a conceptual leap from the team’s name. But between the weird mascot arms race in minor league baseball and the hugely successful launch of the Philadelphia Flyers’ Gritty, every sports franchise is on the cutting edge: whenever you reveal a new mascot, it takes a big swing.

We can only guess that this was the mandate behind Mavrello, the newest addition to the Dallas Mavericks Extended Universe, which was revealed Thursday morning.

Lots of things are going on there. Before we get into that, here is the official mythology of the character, straight from the Mavs canon: Mavrello, whose full name is Mavrello Ballovic, is “a former owner of the Dallas Mavericks” who (!) Was buried in a bunker (!! )) since 1988 under the Reunion Arena (!!!) and which “was forced to pave the way outside with only a concession stand-spork”. This is dark stuff for a little anthropomorphic basketball! But it does explain a bit about why Mavrello looks like you would get if you soaked Mr. Met in a tub of cocaine and left him in a place where he would forget to pay child support for several years . The team that pissed off Mavrello’s performance for the past few weeks (here’s a cryptic picture of a dirty spork!) Will continue to build Mavrello’s backstory over the coming weeks and months. While technically he’s not the team’s new mascot, we can assume that any content the team creates fits into the constellation of Mavs mascots, which include MavsMan (a boring basketball-themed superhero) and Champ ( a boring horse).

Well then: let’s not dance around the figurative elephant in the room, that is, Mavrello looks like crap. The five o’clock shadow, the gold tooth (did he have that when he went into the bunker, or did he stop at a dentist after digging himself out?), The ill-fitting ushanka, the foam hand that – let’s be You honestly – it looks like he’s constantly showing off his middle finger, which … whatever the white stuff behind him is – none of that is how you would present yourself for a job interview, for example. But Mavrello’s shabby looks are part of what the Mavs sell. In a statement on the character’s debut, owner Mark Cuban stated, “We have to reinvent ourselves in order to appeal [Gen Z fans] in new ways ”and“ we need to broaden our focus to include people of all ages and bring new eyeballs to the game. “Cubans tell us that Mavrello is designed as a meme, something so bizarre that adult fans – like those in their twenties whose appreciation for irony made Gritty a real icon – will feel like a dirt bag basketball with Slavic Tired of name, accent and overall aesthetic that lands right on the edge of an offensive stereotype. (At least he’s not wearing a gold chain?)

It might work! Gritty himself wasn’t popular when he debuted in 2018 (initial reactions included words like “awful”), but the years that followed were kind to the big orange guy. Mavrello’s whole thing, which looks like a Pixar wannabe getting turned down and spending a rough weekend with a bender at the Electric Daisy Carnival, might appeal to Zoomers looking for a new way to express themselves in response to a question like “how.” are you today? ” Champ and MavsMan are for kids, fans ready to be inspired by the majesty of sport. Mavrello is likely meant for her older sibling if they’re too burned out from the existential trauma of being alive in 2021 to flip through much more than just a few NBA highlights on Instagram before collapsing on the floor.

That’s the thing about sport, however. They are for fans of all ages, backgrounds, all levels of tolerance for Eastern European stereotypes represented by cartoon characters, all stages of emotional exhaustion. You couldn’t invite Mavrello to visit sick children in the hospital, but it would be right at a frat party. Time will tell if that’s enough to make him a permanent icon for the Mavericks.

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