As with most advertising, the basketball commercials we see on a regular basis trumpet what's best about the sport, leagues, and players that are being sold to the public. An ad about Kobe Bryant, for instance, won't talk about the way his late-game stats don't always align with his reputation as a clutch player, just as a spot about LeBron James won't take seriously the still-common notion that he has no killer instinct. The goal is to leverage the interest that already exists, not remind them of what they don't like.
So it's a little refreshing, if also bizarre, to watch the new Foot Locker ad in which Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving sells the store's upcoming "Week of Greatness" promotion by saying that everything feels right. So much, in fact, that some of the most unfortunate sports stories and memes of recent memory have reached resolution:
While arguably the two most notable bits in the ad involve Mike Tyson giving Evander Holyfield his ear back and Brett Favre finally learning when it's time to walk away, the spot has a distinct NBA flavor. In addition to the presence of Irving, we see Dennis Rodman decide to take a one-way trip to North Korea, in a nod to his basketball-based friendship with brutal dictator Kim Jong-un, and Craig Sager burn his entire garish wardrobe for reasons that are not explained. I suppose we won't be able to complain about these two things any longer.
Sager has poked fun at his clothes before — the impression that he knows how ridiculous he looks (and owns it) is part of his charm — but Rodman is a different story. While the Worm has proven willing to do anything for a little publicity, no matter how ridiculous and embarrassing it may be, he has appeared to take his involvement in North Korean diplomacy quite seriously. In poking fun at the unpopularity of his friendship with the Supreme Leader, Rodman seems to be saying that the one thing that has earned him some measure of serious intellectual consideration in the past decade really isn't that important. (Frankly, I feel a little bad for him, even if I find his relationship with Kim incredibly ill-considered.)
On the other hand, Sager didn't really burn his amazing technicolor sportcoats, so maybe Rodman is still going to present himself as the world's foremost expert on North Korean diplomacy. I'm pretty sure this ad won't run on their TV stations, anyway.
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