One on One - Hugo the Hornet
We caught up with Hugo the Hornet at last night’s 2012-13 season finale watch party to find out what he has planned for the future now that the New Orleans Pelicans have officially taken over as NOLA’s professional basketball team. Here’s what he had to say…
What are your greatest memories as mascot of the New Orleans Hornets?
All of the amazing moments at the games and all the fun I had with fans young and… uh, more seasoned. That’s what always made me so excited to come to the Hive every night. As much fun as the fans have had in the Hive, I’ve had that much more. Specifically, I’ll always remember the Hornets winning their first division championship in 2008 and my last game as mascot in New Orleans. And if you’ll kindly allow me to give myself a brief pat on the stinger, I was so proud to twice be named the NBA’s Mascot of the Year. I also enjoyed all the memories off the court, including riding on a bus with all the Hornets staff to assist in the Hurricane relief efforts as well as visiting hospitals to put smiles on kids' faces.
So what are your plans for the summer?
I have a pretty busy schedule planned. First, I’ll still be around the city this summer tagging along at some Pelicans events so people can still come out and see me. My biggest project will be working with the team to find and train my replacement. It’s an important gig and we need to make sure we get the right feathered friend in here to fill some big shoes, if I do say so myself! Once we find the right fit, I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that they are in optimum physical condition and ready to entertain thousands of New Orleanians next season. In order to make sure that happens, I’ve borrowed a few training tips from some of the greatest athletes in history, including Michael Jordan, Rocky Balboa and the Phoenix Gorilla.
I also plan to take some time off to relax in the warm weather and I’d like to start working on my “bucket list” of things I’ve always wanted to see and try.
When you get some downtime and time off your feet in those gigantic sneakers, how exactly does a mascot like you relax?
I kick off my enormous shoes, turn on my computer and watch blooper reels on YouTube of my fellow furry friends – the other 20-something NBA mascots. Like Monty Williams, I also like to fish along the Gulf Coast as well as partake in some of the festivals in our area. Visiting my friends at the Audubon Insectarium, Zoo and Aquarium as well as catching up on some movies are always on my list.
Now that you’re retiring from the mascot life, what are some of the things you’d like to cross off your bucket list?
There are lots of places I’d like to visit and some exciting activities I’m thinking about. I would like to go skydiving. I also got my motorcycle license this year; maybe I will ride across the country and let my hair blow in the wind. I’m still trying to nail down a list, so I’d love to hear some of the suggestions the fans may have!
What advice do you have for your successor as mascot of New Orleans’ NBA team?
I would say, “Listen to everything I tell you! I’ve been around a while, so I know what I’m talking about!” Just kidding. Actually, I will tell them to always have fun and make sure to enjoy every moment with the greatest fans in the NBA.
What message would you like to give to the thousands of adoring Hugo fans?
I would like to thank all of the fans for their love and support over the years. You’re the absolute best fans in the NBA, so keep bringing that energy to the Arena every night to support our team! I can guarantee you the next Pelicans team mascot will be trained by the best so you can be assured your next leader will not skip a beat!