Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was asked about the bizarre incident between UFC star Conor McGregor and the team’s mascot on Friday night.
McGregor and Burnie were at halfcourt during Game 4 of the NBA Finals between the Heat and the Denver Nuggets. McGregor punched Burnie twice and the person inside the costume briefly sought medical attention. The team said the employee received pain medication and was resting at home.
Spoelstra appeared to laud the person inside the suit for taking the punch.
“That’s the Miami Heat toughness we’re talking about,” Spoelstra said Sunday. “He should’ve been allowed, you know, to take the first swing. We won’t reveal who that is but he’s tough. He can take a punch and get back out there.”
McGregor was at the arena as a promotional gimmick for a pain-relief spray. The mascot was wearing oversized boxing gloves and a robe akin to what a fighter would wear for a boxing match. McGregor connected with a left hook and then punched the mascot again when he fell to the floor.
McGregor tried to “spray” the mascot with the pain-relief product before he was taken off the floor.
Denver went on to win Game 4 against Miami and will seek to clinch their first NBA championship on Monday night.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.