Lamar Odom believes the Phoenix Suns have a racist mascot: ‘Gorillas in the desert, you can’t find any’

Jonathan Sherman
3 Min Read

The Phoenix Suns have been accused of quite a lot recently. Accusations of both racism and misogyny have embroiled owner Robert Sarver in controversy. According to former Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom, Sarver isn’t the only personality connected to the Suns that should be looked at for racism.

Odom recently called out the Suns’ gorilla mascot for being racist as well.

“Gorillas in the desert, you can’t find any,” he said. “You could probably find a cactus. … Just like, come on. But you know what’s so, really crazy about it? They just tried it because they wanted to get the fans involved, and that’s the reason why they kept it — ’cause the fans loved it.”

It doesn’t seem like Odom is claiming for a fact that the Suns mascot is racist, but he clearly holds the belief and has some proof to back it up. He added that the mascot is not “good representation” because Phoenix was the last city to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday. The state of Arizona was indeed the last state to recognize the holiday.

Racism within the NBA has been a topic of conversation for decades. As fans know, the league is made up predominantly of Black players, with 73.2 percent of players identifying as Black or African-American as of 2021.

Despite that large majority, there are still fan bases that are regularly accused of racism. Two of the primary culprits through the years have been the Utah Jazz fan base and Boston Celtics fan base.

Though Phoenix’s fan base isn’t usually mentioned in that conversation, Sarver certainly has been. An explosive report detailed various acts of racism and misogyny that Sarver has been accused of putting members of the Suns organization through. He was accused of using the N-word “on at least five occasions.”

Obviously, Odom has some legitimate reasons to be concerned about possible explicit or implicit racism taking place within the Suns organization.

As far as the franchise itself goes, it is expected to be sold in the relatively near future. Sarver announced in September that he will be selling the team. He bought the team in 2004 for $401 million. It is now expected to sell for $3 billion or more.

It will be interesting to see if the organization ultimately decides to retire the gorilla mascot.

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Jonathan is a freelance writer, filmmaker, and passionate fan of the NBA. In the past Jonathan has covered politics, entertainment, travel, and more. He is a proud contributor of Lakers Daily.