Most recently, the HEB chain has decided to release more of their wonderful Spurs commercials. It was one of the better things to grace the internet this week and further proved that everything that the Spurs touch turns into gold, comedic or otherwise. Through a combination of good writing, camera angles and sorcery the Spurs are once again the internet darlings. But this got us to thinking here at the Armchair Offices (okay, on our respective couches), what are some of the greatest NBA player appearances in commercials?
Of course, there are so many great moments in NBA ad history, so this was by a far a difficult list. Basketball is such a huge part of culture and the stars appear in a lot of commercials each year. This was no easy task as I had to brave YouTube research the videos from ages ago (THE GRAINS!!!) as well as the most modern. But alas, I have emerged from the depth of the digital world to bring to you the Armchair Sports definitive top 10 NBA related commercials.
Cliff and Chris Paul
There are mixed feelings about this one, but I think that this perfectly captured the comedic value of Chris Paul. The deadpan “it’s so bad it’s good humor” fit so perfectly with the perceived personality of Paul that it I find it hard to watch this without cracking up. Given everything else that insurance companies have done to try and get you to buy their product, this was great. What makes it even better is that Chris Paul looks almost dead inside.
AI + Jadakiss
Sometimes you don’t have to go for comedy or any other kind of value. Sometimes you just get to throw the definitive player of his generation and a rapper in a video and watch magic happen. This came out at the time when Jadakiss was at the peak of his power (mind you his peak, not the actual mountain top of hip hop). The video goes so well with the Allen Iverson image and it wouldn’t work with any other player. That what makes it so great, it’s just a perfect fit.
Vince Carter vs. Raptor
Guys, we’re from Toronto, at least one Raptors commercial had to make it. And here it is. I remember seeing it for the first time and almost forgetting about it when it came to writing this article (thanks Cam). The level of CGI is actually quite impressive if you consider the time that this commercial came out. What’s so fun is that the only thing more ridiculous than Vince Carter’s athleticism at the time was an actual dinosaur. So they brought the two together in the show down. And let me tell you, that Raptor got some game.
BRICK BREAK: “What Should I Do”
This has to go down in the long line of LeBron James PR mishaps. I mean, if we can consider The Decision an hour-long commercial ploy (which we should) this is right up there with it. With so much pressure on and the whole world was still feeling perplexed by the ESPN faux pas this was too early. What should you do? I don’t know LeBron. How about just playing basketball for a change?
Blake Griffin in Rage
I have to admit, I hated Blake Griffin for the longest time. I thought his brand of deadpan humour wasn’t for me, I thought he was a lame kid trying to be cool. But then it all changed. I think I grew inside and saw his comedic genius as well as his beastly basketball skills. This was great because it was an athlete stepping out of the tropes of shoes, food, energy drinks and whatever else. This was a video game and Blake Griffin was uniting the two worlds. He is the messenger.
Kyrie Irving is Uncle Drew
Pepsi knocked it out of the park. This wasn’t really a TV commercial in the traditional sense of the word. It is fantastic watch Kyrie dressed as an old man and pulling of his handles. This is uniting the And 1 commercials of old with the exciting young NBA talent (and Nate Robinson). There is just so much here to love, the actors reactions, the Kyrie cross overs and the notion that you will never ever again guard an old man at the Y.
Jordan vs. Bird
This commercial has been remade already with Dwight and LeBron, but the best part about it was the cameo at the end by Larry Legend himself. This is the classic. Larry and Jordan are arguably both top 5 players of any generation, not just that generation and watching them go one on one was everyone’s wet dream. Also, the best part is that everything they did, you believed it was real for just a second didn’t you.
BRICK BREAK: Kevin Durant Footlocker
I’m sorry, I just don’t care for Kevin Durant’s personality. Yes, I understand that NBA players are terrible actors, but at the end of the day everyone else’s deadpan humor worked in these Foot Locker commercials. Tim Duncan, Derrick Rose, James Harden. Durant on the other hand, he brought nothing to the table while his job was to – bring nothing to the table.
HEB Spurs Commercials
Take your pick on this one. San Antonio is a special kind of town and it stands behind its team and the unbelievable personality anchored by Coach Pop. These commercials take advantage of everything we love (or hate, if you have no Soul) about the Spurs. On paper, they shouldn’t work. They’re all internationals with creative accents and absence of on court personality, but it works, and just like that, they have five rings.
These were genius and I regret Penny not playing more not just because he’s was so explosive to watch, but also because we would have more of these. This was ridiculous and totally representative of the age that this commercial was made. The comedic timing of Lil’ Penny brought this over the top.
If you ever wonder where Uncle Drew got his inspiration, look no further. The grandma was OG in every single way possible. This was a timeless classic that broke everything in your head while putting Larry Johnson in a dress and a wig. And then the Grandmama took you to school.
BRICK BREAK: Bargnani Primo Pasta
This is a Toronto based blog, what did you expect to be here? We couldn’t even find a good quality YouTube video
NBA Past & Present
The first time I saw commercials I almost shed a tear. This is a perfect intersection of past and present in the NBA and it gives us at least a glimpses into everyone’s dream, see legends play across the generations. This ad honours the past, the present and gives the future something to aspire to. The only downside is now I keep dreaming these match-ups can actually happen.