Hugo, the New Orleans Hornets' iconic mascot, worked his last game Sunday evening. The team will become the Pelicans after Wednesday night's contest in Dallas, which means there isn't much room for a giant teal Hornet anymore.
It's the end of a long road for Hugo. Designed by Cheryl Henson, the daughter of Muppet creator Jim Henson, Hugo entered the league in 1988, his rookie season coinciding with the inaugural year of the Charlotte Hornets franchise, the team's original home.
During his time in the league, Hugo was nothing short of a star: a three-time winner of the NBA Mascot Slam Dunk Championship, two-time "Best Mascot" award-winner, and winner of NBA Inside Stuff magazine's 1994 "Stuffy Award" for Best Mascot. Aside from basketball games, he appeared around town in innumerable community and charity events.
The team honored their mascot with a retrospective during the fourth quarter of Sunday's game:
WWNO tried for weeks to secure an exclusive interview with Hugo, but we were told repeatedly that Hugo doesn't talk, and therefore cannot give interviews. We were also told he's a private bug, so he cannot be photographed out of costume. Nor could we talk to his mascot coordinator on the record.
Sunday wasn't Hugo's last curtain call, however. The team will be co-branded throughout the summer, said Hornets Corporate Communications Manager Lindsey Mitchell, which means Hugo isn't going anywhere just yet. Fans can find out more about what he's up to at whatsnextforhugo.com
The Hornets lost the game to the Dallas Mavericks, 107-89.