Mascot's antics nearly cost D-League team a victory

The Austin Toros of the NBA Development League put up with some unneeded Bull-loney when their now-suspended mascot lost his head -- figuratively and literally -- and nearly cost the team its game against the Colorado 14ers on Wednesday.

The mascot, known as Da Bull, prematurely ran onto the court and hung from the rim with .4 seconds remaining, apparently to punctuate center Loren Woods' breakaway dunk that gave the Toros a four-point lead over Colorado.

While hanging from the rim, the Toros detailed in a news release Thursday, Da Bull collided with a Colorado player. At the point of contact, the mascot's head, to his horror, fell to the floor.

The Toros were assessed a technical foul. The 14ers' Von Wafer made the free throw, but Rick Rickert missed a 3-pointer that would have tied the score as time expired.

"I was hanging there in celebration," Da Bull said. "I didn't see the ball in play."

In a story published Friday on its Web site, the Austin American-Statesman described the man who wears the costume of Da Bull as a 29-year-old gymnast and graduate of Austin High School who never played organized basketball.

Da Bull was suspended for two games and assigned by the team to 50 hours of community service. A replacement mascot will perform in his absence; Da Bull is expected to return to duty Feb. 2 when the Toros play the Bakersfield Jam.

Austin's 101-98 victory came before a sold-out kids matinee at the Austin (Texas) Convention Center.

"I've never seen that in all my years of basketball," Toros coach Dennis Johnson said in a statement, "and I hope I never do again."