If you’ve ever been to a Phoenix Suns game, you’ve probably seen the franchise’s famous mascot “GO the Gorilla” roaming the sidelines. While you would be rightfully confused as to why a gorilla is a mascot for a team whose nickname is “Suns,” you probably wouldn’t think it was chosen with racist motivations.
That is, unless you’re Lamar Odom.
The former Los Angeles Lakers forward and 2-time NBA champion went on “The Bootleg Kev Podcast” and discussed how he believed the NBA is sending a hidden racist message by allowing Phoenix to have a gorilla mascot, since many people make references to apes or gorillas when they want to say something racist.
“Do you think there’s like some racial connotations with the Suns’ gorilla?” the host asked Odom.
“Come on, bro. The thing that’s funny is they kinda like slid that one by for all these years,” Odom replied. “Nobody like says anything about that. Gorillas in the desert… you can’t find any. You could probably find a cactus.”
Stop the presses, Odom just uncovered the biggest scandal in the history of mascots! He’s right, gorillas can’t be found in the desert (who would have thought?), thus undeniably proving that GO is racist. He’s just saved the day!
Or did he? Because according to team history, that’s not even remotely close to the truth.
Unlike some mascot origin stories, GO the Gorilla’s is actually rather clear. The Suns did not have a mascot for the first 11 years of the franchise’s existence, so in 1980 one fan showed up to Suns games in a gorilla mascot and took up sideline entertainment duties of his own volition. After doing this for quite some time, Phoenix made this fan the official mascot, and the rest is history.
There’s an old saying: “To a man with a hammer, every problem is a nail.” For Odom and anyone obsessed with racism, anything can seem racist if you just look hard enough and distort history whichever way you want.
But most of the time, people need to take an honest look at the facts. If they did that more often, we wouldn’t hear nonsense like this.
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