Man behind Benny the Bull is leaving

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Chicago Bulls mascot Benny The Bull dunking ball during Chicago Bulls vs Indiana Pacers game at United Center. (Photo by David E. Klutho /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

CHICAGO — The man who entertained Chicago basketball fans as Benny the Bull is leaving after 12 years with the team.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Barry Anderson, who suited up as the mascot for Chicago Bulls home games, said in a Facebook post he was parting ways with the team.

His Facebook account appears to be private, but according to the Tribune Anderson wrote on social media, “After 12 incredible years, it’s come time for me to explore this world, this life, without my fuzzy red friend. In what’s been an impossibly difficult choice to make, I’ve decided that June 30th will be my final day at the Chicago Bulls, where my heart will forever live.”

Benny the Bull was named NBA Mascot of the Year for 2015.

Anderson replaced Dan LeMonnier as the mascot in 2004, and captured fans with his intense, often excessive style at the United Center. He also represented the team at various school and community functions.

According to the Tribune, though Anderson is leaving, the mascot will return next year “in some form.”