With basketball fans all abuzz over the possible retirements of two of The Big Three – Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili – it's easy to overlook someone who has been the oversized face of the franchise for nearly as long. Robert Wicall, the man behind The Coyote, has announced his retirement. For over a decade Wicall has made the NBA's greatest fans smile, laugh, shout and cheer on the silver and black with his trademark humor and athleticism. In a press release Wicall cited his recent diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis as the primary reason for his departure.
“Of course it’s bittersweet, but I am excited to spend game nights with my family, explore some creative projects, and be open to whatever other opportunities present themselves ... Three years ago I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis, and so I am passionate about staying fit and speaking on behalf of arthritis sufferers everywhere.”
Wicall took over as the Spurs Coyote, a mascot created by Tim Derk, who donned the costume for 21 years, and in 2006 received the Best Mascot of the Year 2005 award. As good ol' number 2!, Wicall annually performed at over 400 appearances for charities, fundraisers and community events, more than any other mascot. In 2007, The Coyote was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame and in 2014, in a poll of his fellow mascots, Wicall received the award for the Best Mascot of the Year.
Thank you, Rob, for being there to make us laugh when we wanted to cry, cheer when we wanted to curse and eternally proud of our San Antonio Spurs!