The Phoenix Suns’ Gorilla Is An Ankle-Saving Hero

He's not just a dunking trickster

The Phoenix Suns' Gorilla during some mid-game acrobatics in 2015 — USA Today Sports
Mar 08, 2017 at 12:56 PM ET

The Phoenix Suns’ Gorilla mascot is the hero we need and deserve right now. Lest you forget, this is a character who could easily rest on his considerable laurels. He’s already a basketball icon known for his acrobatic, dunk-heavy highlight reels.

So, should this hairy beast do something unexpected and intrusive, such as diving onto the court of play, he clearly should get the benefit of our doubt.

To wit, in Tuesday night’s Phoenix home date with the Washington Wizards, early in the fourth quarter, the Suns held possession of the basketball in the offensive half of the court when the Gorilla dove headfirst underneath the basket, near the legs of a Wizards player. Was this just monkeying around? Some sinister Suns subterfuge?

Look closer:

Yes, what appears to be a band member’s drum mallet had careened onto the floor, risking life and limb of the players (or, more accurately, limb or other limb, as a player could have broken either ankle but probably wouldn’t have died). And just as suddenly, he was off the court, without even having interrupted play, bravely having risked an NBA player’s size-16 high-top coming down on his head.

Where have we seen such a heroic deed from a noble gorilla before? (Yes, of course that link goes to a Harambe story.)

While gorillas are generally not territorials beasts, it’s little wonder this Phoenix species is protective of the wooded court at Talking Stick Resort Arena. This Gorilla has reigned there since 1980, the locals having adopted an ape who once sang telegrams for a living before his innate joy and preternatural athleticism were discovered.

The Gorilla’s slide was also vaguely reminiscent of another sacrificial leap: when Clint Eastwood’s Secret Service character blocks a bullet aimed for the President in the 1993 movie, “In the Line of Fire.” (Skip ahead to the the 2:00 mark.)

The world is now a better place. Surely, somewhere Harambe is smiling down from animal heaven.