Lowered from the Ford Center ceiling like a rock star, Rumble the Bison, the Thunder’s new mascot, made a smashing debut Tuesday night despite missing both dunks.
Rumble played the drums, performed with the trampoline dunk team, danced with the Thunder Girls and closed his halftime act by climbing a 16-foot ladder. Rumble stood on the top rung, then back-flipped. The dunk rimmed out, but his athleticism was evident. He declined to give his true identity, but the person inside the costume has served as a mascot for more than a decade. He once water skied in costume and roller bladed up a four-story ramp, successfully jumping over cars like Evel Knievel. Rumble’s story is fictitious, but the Native American tale concocted represents Oklahoma’s history. A near-sellout crowd was told at halftime Rumble is a bison that hundreds of years ago led his herd to safety only to be trapped alone in a storm atop the Arbuckle Mountains. The story claims Rumble was struck by lightning and suddenly walked on two legs like a man. According to campfire legend, Rumble possesses amazing strength and agility but felt alone until NBA players with similar athletic skills arrived in the Ford Center hundreds of years later. "Even though it’s fictional, it takes the tone of a bison, the history of this community,” said Brian Byrnes, vice president of tickets and services.