On December 15, 1990, the Denver Nuggets introduced the world to Rocky, the anthropomorphic mountain lion that has provided fans with plenty of entertainment over the years. However, nothing tops the unintentionally hilarious moment we were treated to when the person inside the costume passed out during a pregame stunt that went wrong in 2013.
For decades, Rocky was embodied by Ken Solomon, an aspiring actor who deployed a wide variety of antics to help the animal he embodied become one of the most beloved mascots in the NBA. While the Nuggets are oddly secretive about the identity of the person who plays Rocky, it’s believed he passed the torch to his son Drake (who reportedly rakes in more than $600,000 a year) after portraying the most for more than 30 years.
Solomon put a ton of time and effort into his role as Rocky, as he routinely pulled off acrobatic stunts and high-flying dunks and had an uncanny ability to sink blind half-court shots with ease.
However, the job also came with its fair share of hazards—as evidenced by the fairly infamous night when thousands of fans watched a motionless Rocky slowly lowered down onto the court.
The time the Denver Nuggets mascot passed out while being lowered from the ceiling remains an all-time NBA moment
On November 1, 2013, the Nuggets welcomed fans to the Pepsi Center for their first home game of the season in a showdown against the Trail Blazers.
It was the first of many largely forgettable games in a largely forgettable season, as Denver fell in a contest that Portland won by a score of 113-18. However, it will always have a place in NBA history thanks to what transpired before tip-off.
Rocky and the Nuggets opted to pull out all the stops for the home opener, as Solomon headed up to the rafters in the arena prior to the game and hopped into the harness that was supposed to lower him down to the floor.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned, as the rope attached to Rocky descended a bit too quickly. While the operators attempted to correct the speed, they did so a bit too abruptly, and Soloman had the wind knocked out of him to the point where he was temporarily unconscious.
While it was clear something was amiss, the announcer tasked with hyping up the crowd continued with his spiel as a spotlight continued to focus on a motionless Rocky slowly making his way down from the rafters before collapsing to his knees once he hit the court.
To this day, there aren’t many videos with the ability to make me laugh uncontrollably every single time I watch them without fail quite like that clip.
You obviously have to feel bad for Soloman (who was sidelined for the remainder of the game), and while it was undoubtedly a scary moment, you don’t need to feel too bad if you have a similar reaction as I do when you consider he wasn’t seriously injured and made a quick return to his mascot duties.