In the days before Steph Curry and the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors were nothing short of a global pop culture phenomenon, the franchise’s ownership struggled to galvanize the attention of hoops casuals (losing nearly 300 games in 5 seasons, punctuated with Latrell Sprewell strangling P.J. Carelismo didn’t help). Displaced to San Jose for the 1996-97 season, the Warriors canned incumbent mascost Berserker (the David Yow theme didn’t really translate to Northern California) and replaced him with Thunder, in the form of gymnast/trampoline dunker Sadaki Fuller. Strolling down memory lane with the New York Times’ Scot Cacciola, Fuller explains the pitfalls of showing some initiative upon accepting the position :
Fuller felt obliged to help sell people on the team, he said, because the Warriors were not — how to put this mildly? — setting the region ablaze. He recalled running into the lobby of a bank near the team’s offices — in full costume, no less. That alone was a startling sight, and then Fuller opened his mouth and said, “This is a stickup!”
Nobody making a deposit that day recognized Thunder as an N.B.A. mascot. Most were under the impression that a less-than-sane person in a superhero outfit was attempting to rob the bank until Fuller backflipped out of the lobby while shouting, “Go Warriors!”
When Fuller returned to the team’s headquarters, he was met by several members of the team’s front office. They had received word of his marketing ploy.
“They were like, ‘Listen, it’s great that you’re doing everything with so much enthusiasm, but you can’t run into banks,’ ” Fuller said. “I was young. I didn’t get it.”