Remember Indiana Pacers' mascot Bowser? He's sorely missed.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Bowser, the gray furry dog with blue eyebrows and his tongue permanently hanging out, disappeared from the Indiana Pacers in 2010 after an 8-year career.
Not much was said. No real explanation for what happened to the happy sidekick to Pacers cat mascot Boomer. People speculated he went to live on a farm. Some said he retired. Others said he was fired.
More than a decade later, fans have not forgotten the dog that delighted school kids all over Indiana, headlined parades in Carmel and drove an IndyCar around Monument Circle with Sarah Fisher. They haven't forgotten his gleeful antics and athletic prowess as he hoisted Boomer high to dunk basketballs.
In fact, Bowser ranked the fifth most missed NBA mascot in America, according to a survey released Wednesday by Play AZ, a site that offers news and resources on legal and regulated sports gambling.
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"While some current mascots would rather be forgotten by fans, some are gone but not forgotten," the company said. "According to fans, there are a select few NBA mascots currently in retirement that should be brought back."
The site went on to urge: "Maybe it's time for the Pacers' Boomer the Panther to reunite with his old canine friend."
The Pacers said Wednesday that Bowser is doing just fine and, sadly, wasn't needed.
"Boomer really brings the energy of 10 mascots – he’s that good," Danny Lopez, a vice president with Pacers Sports & Entertainment, wrote in an email to IndyStar when asked about the survey. "It was just determined we didn’t need them both, but despite the age-old adage that cats and dogs don’t mix, Bowser found a wonderful forever home and to this day remains one of Boomer’s biggest fans."
Bowser was introduced before the start of the 2002 season as a dog to participate in game day antics with Boomer. Bowser left during the 2009-2010 season.
An unofficial Twitter page for Bowser was started seven years after his Pacers departure and declares he is a "current mascot free agent."
In one tweet he says "Do you guys remember when Larry Bird and Herb Simon took me on a "car ride" to the "farm"....? Bad memories..."
Finishing ahead of Bowser in the most missed mascot category was Squatch of the Seattle Supersonics who held his post from 1993 until the team relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008. Coming in at No. 2 was Whammer of the Cleveland Cavaliers, followed by the short-lived Brooklyn Nets mascot, BrooklyKnight, and Hoops of the Philadelphia 76ers.
To determine rankings, Play AZ surveyed more than 1,500 NBA fans across the country on categories ranging from best to worst, most average and most obnoxious.
Boomer finished near the top in the beloved category, ranking as the 7th best mascot in the NBA. Rocky the Mountain Lion of the Denver Nuggets and Benny the Bull of Chicago finished first and second best.
While Bowser is gone, he still has an active bio page on the Pacers web site with vital stats such as his birthday (fall 2001), birthplace (Conseco Fieldhouse), height (6-2) and weight (fluctuates, depends on how many dog biscuits I’ve eaten).
A petition titled "Bring back Bowser the Dog as Pacers' Co-Mascot" was started on Change.org two years ago but gained little traction.
"When I was just a wee lad, I went to every home Indiana Pacers game and I had so much joy watching the two mascots do random things," petition creator Reed Ferguson wrote. "But then one day, they decided to fire Bowser and they never brought him back. I feel like everyone will want him back and Boomer is getting a little lonely. I just want to help the kid people of Indiana and all the Pacer fans all around the world."