Are you sitting down? I hope so, you have been warned... One of the best mascots in not only the NBA but of all sports, the man who has played Clutch the Bear for more than two decades, is no longer with the team, per Clutchfans.
Clutch had the difficult task of taking over for another mascot legend in Turbo. But since being introduced in 1995 Clutch has been a mainstay with fans with his cuddly demeanor and his classic pranks.
Robert Boudwin, the man behind Clutch the Bear has taken the mascot to incredible levels. In 2013, he was named mascot of the year and he is a part of the mascot hall of fame.
When Hulu (an online video streaming service) was looking to start making the series "Behind the Mask" a documentary profiling the men/women behind the mascots, Clutch the Bear was originally sought to be the mascot featured on the show, but the TV producers instead decided to go with their backup plan, Milwaukee Bucks mascot Bango the Buck.
Boudwin will be missed, thank you for all the laughs and fun. Per Clutch fans the Houston Rockets will be holding open auditions to replace the bear in the coming future.
Currently, on nbateamjobs.teamworkonline.com a site that houses all the open jobs for every NBA team, there is information on a mascot opening.
UPDATE: Via the Houston Chronicle, Boudwin put the following warm message on his personal Facebook page today:
On his personal Facebook page, Boudwin said: "With mixed emotions and a heavy heart, it is time for me to say goodbye to my alter ego of 21 years and 'best friend in fur' Clutch the Bear, Mascot for the Houston Rockets.
"It has been my honor, granted to me in 1995 by Rockets ownership, to create and steward this character. I am grateful that my parents, Donna and Paul, both supported my decision to move across the country to Houston, to wear a teddy bear costume for the Rockets even though I was graduating with honors and with a double major in Marketing and Management."
"I wish to thank all the AMAZINGLY PASSIONATE Rockets Fans who have laughed and cheered with me over the last 2 decades, and have helped me achieve my claim to fame... which is I've hugged more Houstonians than anyone on the planet!," Boudwin wrote on Facebook. "I will continue to cheer with you for our favorite team just not from inside the costume. I am excited to see what Clutch holds for us in the future, as he can be a bit unpredictable, as you all well know! Here's to a 3rd NBA World Championship for the Rockets in the near future! THANK YOU HOUSTON!!!"