An NBA Finals skit involving former mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor and the Miami Heat’s mascot went too far on Friday, resulting in a brief hospitalization for the man inside the “Burnie” costume.
The Heat’s mascot (or more specifically, the man inside) was taken to a local emergency room Friday night and released later than evening after receiving pain medication.
A Kaseya Center source confirmed the story, which was first reported by The Athletic.
Conor McGregor just knocked out Burnie pic.twitter.com/w1IdovFhrX
— Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz (@LeBatardShow) June 10, 2023
The skit — which happened during a timeout in Denver’s Game 4 win against the Heat — involved McGregor punching Burnie at least twice as part of a promotion for McGregor’s pain relief spray.
McGregor — a former UFC champion — punched Burnie to the floor, then punched him again when he was on court, and then sprayed the pain relief product on him as he was dragged away.
Burnie was wearing boxing gloves, but the mascot’s cushioning could not prevent him from sustaining an undisclosed injury.
The Heat did not comment on the matter. The man behind the Burnie costume has never revealed his name publicly, and the team does not identify him in its media guide.
Burnie canceled plans to attend the Heat’s watch party at the Kaseya Center on Monday night, when the Heat will play Game 4 of the Finals in Denver.
McGregor, 34, last fought in 2021.
This marked Burnie’s fourth incident that resulted in an injury, but the first time that the mascot was injured. (Several Heat employees have worn the costume over the franchise’s 35 seasons.)
Burnie was sued in 1994 after an incident at an exhibition game in Mexico.
The mascot randomly picked a woman from the crowd, dragged her by the feet, and danced on the court with her during a time-out. The woman was later identified as the wife of a federal judge. She pulled away from Burnie and fell.
She filed a $1 million lawsuit, citing emotional distress, and the case was settled for $50,000.
The mascot faced additional lawsuits in 2015 and 2017; in each case, fans claimed they were injured by Burnie’s antics. Both cases were settled with confidentiality agreements.