The Los Angeles Clippers improved their record this season to 39-20 with a 105-95 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night, and during half-time at the Staples Center, they introduced their new mascot: Chuck the California Condor.
Chuck, who is grey with a pink head and a blue nose, was lowered from the rafters with the arena lights off. Wearing a Clippers cape and a red-and-white helmet that he removes, the bird proceeded to dance, do flips and dunk with the help of a trampoline.
Owner Steve Ballmer introduced the bird but the biggest reaction from the crowd came when the 59-year-old said fans would receive a pair of red Converse - on the house - if he could successfully dunk. Using the trampoline, he slammed the ball down and the crowd erupted in applause.
Article continues below
Coach Doc Rivers said of the Condor, which is the state bird of California: "It's like us. It used to be extinct and now it's coming back. In today's world, they're going to make fun of it for six months and then they're going to get over it."
Jamal Crawford, who led the game with 26 points off the bench, was supportive of the mascot and believes it will help kids become more involved in games. He said: "I know my son will love it. I hope my daughter's not scared."
Article continues below
The Clippers' announcement of Chuck means there are now only four teams left in the league without a mascot; the Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks.
Back in their San Diego days, they had a mascot called Sam Dunk, but he was not continued when the franchise relocated in 1984. The Clippers will be hoping Chuck brings them more luck after an impressive run of form that has coincided with the absence of Blake Griffin.
The five-time All-Star has not played since the Clippers overcame the Lakers on Christmas Day, winning 94-84 on Kobe Bryant's final festive appearance. Following that game, Rivers' men held a record of 17-13 but have won 22 of their 29 games since.
The return of the 2011 Rookie of the Year can only be a good thing for a franchise who are still looking for their first Conference title, let alone Championship ring.
The West is packed full of talented teams; Golden State are chasing history while the San Antonio Spurs are breaking franchise records without much recognition. The Oklahoma City Thunder are also a threat with the combination of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
But the Clippers will be quietly hoping they can usurp the Thunder in third place and begin a surprise assault on the favourites from the West.