SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz have reportedly fired the man who performed as the Jazz Bear since 1994.
The Salt Lake Tribune’s Andy Larsen was the first to report that Jon Absey, the man who has performed as the Bear for 24 years, was let go by the organization earlier this week. The Deseret News’ Eric Woodyard also confirmed the report.
Jazz spokesman Frank Zang told KSL that the Jazz Bear would perform Friday night as the Jazz welcome the Golden State Warriors to town, but would not say whether Absey would be the one performing.
“Jazz Bear will continue to be one of the most iconic mascots in the NBA,” Zang said. “Out of respect for his character, which is separate from any employee ever associated with it, we have never discussed his identity. We do not discuss individual personnel matters.”
Details about why Absey was fired were not released.
Over the years, the Jazz Bear has been known for his dangerous stunts, including his iconic sled down the top of the lower bowl of the arena down to the court. The Bear first debuted by rappelling down from a catwalk of the then-Delta Center on Nov. 1, 1994. The stunt has since been banned by the NBA.
Absey, as the Bear, was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2006. Gov. Gary Herbert also declared Oct. 10, 2013 as "Jazz Bear Day" to recognize his 20th season as the Jazz mascot.
The Bear also won the 2017-18 Mascot of the Year award over the summer, his fifth in his long-tenure with the Jazz.