Rocky the Denver Nuggets mascot gets his paws on the New York Times

Rocky, the Denver Nuggets mountain lion mascot, has put together quite a career over the 22 years that he has been thrilling basketball fans -- sometimes providing their only thrill during the particularly lean years. Over that time, the supremely athletic gymnast has perfected his routine -- from flirting with the ladies in the crowd to sinking backward half-court shots at halftime. He was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2009 and was named the Most Awesome Mascot this year by the Cartoon Network, not to mention Westword's Best Mascot on numerous occasions. And last week, the New York Times credited him with one more thing: helping to design early versions of the popular T-shirt cannons that are now used at most major sporting events to launch bundled-up team T-shirts into the crowds.

The article, "Who Made That T-Shirt Cannon?" quotes two other mascots involved in the early days of the cannons and then tacks on a Q&A with Rocky, AKA Kenn Solomon.

But the most interesting part of the story? Read the final question and answer.

Tell me about the first time you saw a T-shirt cannon. In 1996, I was at a San Antonio Spurs game, and their mascot had one. It looked like it came from World War II -- so big and bulky. I thought: Oh, my gosh, I've got to have one of those. I bet I could build one. So I went home and called up a friend of mine who was a welder, and by the end of the day we had a cannon that would fire about a block away.

How did you test out your cannons? I stood on home plate at Coors Field, which is the professional baseball stadium here, and fired one into the stands. First we tested it when the stadium was empty, and then we came back and fired it into the stands during a game. I wore this robot costume with the gun by my side and started firing into the crowd, and they went crazy. Almost immediately I had calls from the Broncos and from everybody local. And then from there it started spreading

How do you shoot the cannon with your paws? At the ends of my paws are black spots, and I wear black gloves underneath. From a distance, you can't tell that my fingers come out of the glove.

More from our Sports archive: "Video: Kenneth Faried pumps up, gets naked for ESPN The Magazine 'Body Issue.'"

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes