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Warriors purchasing custom-made unicycle for ‘Red Panda’

  • COURTESY SFPD

    Images released by the San Francisco Police Department show a suspect wheeling away a black roller suitcase containing a $25,000 unicycle at the San Francisco International Airport on Jan. 24. Someone at the San Francisco airport stole a 7-foot unicycle used by the Red Panda Acrobat for her plate-juggling routine.

OAKLAND, Calif. >> The Warriors are handing out a timely assist that will go beyond ensuring their star-studded roster scores at a prolific rate. Their latest example of team play will help a longtime halftime performer at NBA and college basketball games.

The Warriors are purchasing a custom-made unicycle manufactured in China for the “Red Panda Acrobat,” whose original 71/2 foot unicycle went missing after it was not scanned properly through security at San Francisco International Airport on Jan. 24. The cost of her original bike was around $25,000. After learning of the performer’s loss, Warriors brass met Thursday to formulate a plan.

“The Red Panda is legendary and absolutely loved and adored by everyone, especially our fans and season ticket holders. She’s been a staple at Warriors games for many years and we need for that to continue in the future,” Warriors president Rick Welts said in a statement to Bay Area News Group. “What better way to put her in position to succeed than with a new, custom made unicycle? We look forward to her next appearance at Oracle Arena and are glad that we could do our small part to help this great tradition continue.”

Red Panda’s agent, Patrick Figley, expressed appreciation.

“Their generosity is just amazing,” Figley said. “This cloud has been lifted. She was thrilled. She’s really, really appreciative. The Warriors are a great organization.”

The loss of her original bike forced Red Panda to cancel an appearance at the UCLA-Cal men’s basketball game in Los Angeles on Jan. 25. Red Panda has since performed at five college basketball games on a secondary bike. But that model has not functioned as well as the original. Red Panda’s act entails sitting on a unicycle while resting a stack of bowls on her right foot. She then flips the bowls with her foot onto her head.

Red Panda likely won’t get her new bike until after the completion of the NBA season. She is scheduled to perform at the Yale-Princeton men’s college basketball game today at Princeton University. She plans to perform halftime for NBA games on Feb. 13 (Cavaliers-Thunder in Oklahoma City) and Feb. 14 (Kings-Rockets in Houston). As for the Warriors, Red Panda plans to perform at Oracle Arena again at some point during the NBA playoffs.

Red Panda last performed at Oracle Arena when the Warriors hosted the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 22, 2017. The Warriors said Red Panda has performed there over 15 times in the last 20 years.

“I think it was a really cool gesture from our organization. Hopefully she gets the specs just right. That was rather important,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said following today’s morning shootaround. “It’s ridiculous. It’s unbelievable. It’s one of the best halftime shows. She’s fantastic.”

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