You can't get through a basketball game these days without a steady bombardment of advertisements and product placement.
But for the true hoops fan, you can't get through a commercial without thinking about basketball, namely the finer metaphorical bonds that link your favorite team to the endless marketing wasting your life 30 seconds at a time.
Am I right, or am I right?
Or...maybe it's just me. All the same, here are the commercials that go hand-in-hand with every NBA team. What commercial reminds you of your team?
Worried you're paying too much?
The Atlanta Hawks should be. They'll be shelling out over $20 million a year to Joe Johnson until 2016.
That's an awfully cumbersome contract for a team trying to improve after three consecutive trips to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
Unfortunately, short of making very expensive use of the amnesty clause, it won't be quite so easy for the Hawks to find a cheaper provider.
Aside from the fact that Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce have enough face time in this commercial for it to qualify as an ad for the Boston Celtics, this attempt to weave the NBA Playoffs into an epic narrative about legendary champions has this club written all over it.
What better way to cap off the Celtics' most recent mini-dynasty than with one last farewell tour by Boston's Big Three. Sure, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce will certainly stick around, but there's a good chance Ray Allen and Garnett won't.
As phenomenally as this team has played since the All-Star break, you get the sense there may be a reason for their urgency.
Every time you see Michael Jordan in a commercial, you can't help but wonder who's actually running the Charlotte Bobcats?
Is there anyone at the wheel?
Charlie Sheen, perhaps?
Jordan should take a break from the underwear business and focus on his team. His commercials have arguably become more entertaining than a Bobcats game, and that's a sad commentary on this club's state of affairs.
Like Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, the Chicago Bulls have a secret formula that has the rest of the NBA scratching their heads.
And yes, they're... "Grrrreat."
Of course, the formula isn't that much of a secret—it starts with Coach Tom Thibodeau's emphases on defense and sharing the ball on the offense.
That may have been a bit more of a secret last season, though, when onlookers were still readily convinced that this team goes as Derrick Rose goes.
That is sure to still be the case in the postseason, but the Bulls have played well despite their star's extended absence.
The formula is working.
The championship party didn't last long for the Dallas Mavericks.
They got off to a rough start, appeared to right the ship and now look to be right back where they started.
Lamar Odom's drama, subsequent departure and encore of more drama cap off a season that has yet to feel capable of a repeat title.
Nevertheless, every Mavericks home game feels exactly like this commercial. Good work, Mark Cuban.
OK, so this one has more to do with JaVale McGee than it does the Denver Nuggets, but such are the responsibilities that come with acquiring a world-class knucklehead.
Theories abound as to what possessed the young center to play like a space cadet with the Washington Wizards this season. My preferred explanation?
Accidental ingestion of muscle relaxants.
Does anyone else wonder if, after Charlie Villanueva called in sick with his ankle injury, he just went on a "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"-style vacation from life this season?
Wouldn't you if you played for the Detroit Pistons?
Detroit hasn't gotten any worse, but it hasn't gotten much better, either. Even the guys on the court look like they're playing hooky.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have yet to assemble a team of superheroes, but they've gotten off to a good start with rookies Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson.
The hope is that this young core will avenge Cleveland's loss of LeBron James, a cause that extends from Ohio to anyone who roots for the underdog. This is a team on a mission.
It will take a couple more seasons before the Cavs truly resemble a Hollywood blockbuster, but the pieces are falling into place, and spurned fans finally have some reason for hope.
How did the Golden State Warriors miss the red flags surrounding Andrew Bogut?
The decision to ship Monta Ellis out of town in exchange for the oft-injured center has bewildered analysts and frustrated fans.
And yet, there's a solid chance this deal works out for the Warriors down the road. If Bogut can stay healthy—and he very well may—then Golden State will automatically feature one of the best centers in the league.
Red flags or otherwise, Bogut may have been just the kind of risk the Warriors inevitably had to take.
No team has more need for insurance than the Houston Rockets. This team needs protection from mayhem in the worst way.
The tortured Houston careers of Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming speak for themselves. Not since McGrady's prior pairing with Grant Hill had injury so severely derailed a budding superstar duo.
While this year's injury woes haven't reach quite such epic proportions, the Rockets' playoff hopes looked bleak, as Kyle Lowry missed 15 games with a bacterial infection, of all things.
Talk about mayhem.
Fortunately, Houston did have some insurance by the name of Goran Dragic.
The Rockets also took a hit when Kevin Martin tore his shoulder—he's been out since March 11. For his part, Courtney Lee has also done his best Allstate impression and averaged over 14 points for his last t0 games.
Okay, Roy Hibbert might not be a perfect center, but he's certainly much-improved.
The first-time All-Star has helped the Indiana Pacers reach another level and remain competitive in an Eastern Conference preoccupied with teams like Miami, Chicago, Boston and New York. Indiana has quietly made the case that it shouldn't be left out of that discussion.
On the other hand, this team might not have it any other way.
How annoying is this commercial?
No more annoying than the Los Angeles Clippers' sudden ascent to "relevance" thanks to an infinitely-hyped point guard and a couple of highlight artists in the paint.
This club's uncharacteristic success is made all the more annoying by the way Chris Paul fell into its lap and—of course—the fact that Donald Sterling is, by all accounts, one of the worst people in sports.
Sure, the lobs have been a pleasure to watch.
But oh, so annoying...
It's always hard to discern the thin line between truth and fiction with this team.
Not a year goes by without the Los Angeles Lakers remaining the biggest story in basketball, whether there's really much of a story there or not. If the team isn't in first place, it's a global crisis. If it wins a few games, the dynasty is alive and well.
The Lakers are nothing but misconception, a media-driven narrative that takes on a (larger than) life of its own.
All exaggeration aside, this year's team is neither amazing nor subpar. It's very good.
Mike Brown isn't a disaster, and he isn't Phil Jackson—he's done a pretty decent job. Andrew Bynum—immaturity and all—is right about where we expected him to be.
Kobe has had a great year, but not an MVP year.
Without the misconceptions, this team isn't as exciting as you might think.
The Memphis Grizzlies have played like their lives depend on it since the All-Star break, beating just about everyone who's anyone in the process.
The odds haven't exactly been in this team's favor, but that hasn't stopped them from emerging as a dark-horse contender in the Western Conference.
Just a season removed from upsetting the first-seeded San Antonio Spurs, we already know this team has the makeup to win big in the postseason.
In the dog-eat-dog environs of playoff basketball, this looks like a team that may be built for survival.
Before Miami Heat fans become enraged by the suggestion that their team is more style than substance, we should all remember: Style isn't always a bad thing.
Professional basketball would be significantly less entertaining without it. The open-court chemistry that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade call an average day's work is unquestionably one of the finer things to behold in this sport.
Still, this is a team that has a lot to prove. Its style and regular-season dominance notwithstanding, Heat fans won't be satisfied until their team avenges last season's implosion against the Dallas Mavericks.
On a more literal note, LeBron and Wade have seemed especially fashion conscious this season, mostly to the annoyance of everyone else.
Are the Milwaukee Bucks ever under any pressure to win?
It seems like this team takes a joyride under the radar year after year with ambitions that top out somewhere just above complete mediocrity.
And yet, they might just be good enough to sneak into the playoffs (why does it feel like we've said this before?)
I'd be lying if I said the Minnesota Timberwolves make me think of pizza. Truth be told, everything makes me think of pizza.
But there's some truth to this "better ingredients, better pizza" thing, and after a season at 17-65, Minnesota has proven what a difference some better ingredients can make.
Kevin Love isn't exactly new, but he's certainly improved. And while Ricky Rubio's stellar season was cut short, he and rookie Derrick Williams have added considerable value to a franchise headed in the right direction.
You know what else was a bad idea? How about trading a handful of nice assets for Deron Williams without any guarantee he'd stay for the long haul?
How about then refusing to trade Deron Williams after a year in which he still refused to make any promises?
Or trading your lottery pick in an especially deep draft class for Gerald Wallace?
Maybe the stars will align and Dwight Howard will wind up alongside Deron Williams for many seasons to come.
Otherwise, though, the New Jersey Nets will have a lot of bad ideas to live down.
This one goes without saying—it's been the year of the Caveman in New Orleans.
The Hornets tried to deal Chris Kaman well in advance of the trade deadline but eventually backed off when nothing exciting emerged.
The lack of activity worked out well for everyone involved—with Emeka Okafor out since Feb. 11, Kaman's gotten the minutes he wanted and made a pretty compelling case for his market value come the offseason.
It's only fitting that one of our generation's greatest commercials should be paired with one of the NBA's most storied franchises.
The Knicks have overcome discord, a coaching change and key injuries to Amar'e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin to battle back into playoff position, and Mike Woodson's team might not be done yet.
With a three to send the game into overtime and another to win it, we all heard the Knicks' engines roar in a moment of collective awe.
It was perhaps the beginning of a sea change—not only for a season that looked unsalvageable, but for a franchise that's been waiting a long time for better days.
The Oklahoma City Thunder might not be the first thing that comes to mind when ordering off an "extra value menu," but it should be.
The Thunder have taken the fourth smallest payroll in the NBA all the way to the top of the Western Conference, providing a model example of how to stretch a dollar. General managers should take note.
This isn't a team that evokes the nicety of fine dining or gourmet cuisine. For the money, though, it sure gets the job done.
Owner/player/coach Jackie Moon shares a few things in common with owner/player/coach Dwight Howard—namely, they both manage to say the wrong thing almost every single time.
They're also uniquely capable of maintaining an inflated self-image, no matter how ridiculous they look.
After some careful side-by-side comparison, it appears the only difference is that Moon is at least slightly endearing.
Arguably no team in professional basketball has played more like a team this season than Doug Collins' Philadelphia 76ers.
Without a star or prolific scoring threat to dominate their headlines, Philly has become a legitimate playoff team thanks to a completely ensemble effort wherein some of its best talent (Louis Williams, Thaddeus Young) comes off the bench.
The 76ers haven't generated the same excitement as the big contenders in the East, but they could be deceptively dangerous in a long series.
What better metaphor for the Phoenix Suns than a sinking ship...
How about a bus about to fall off the bridge?
Either way, the point remains: It's time for Steve Nash to get off and save himself. He's been a professional to the nth degree, and the league's more egomaniacal stars should take notice.
Still, his time has come.
Hey Portland, hear that awkward silence on the other end of the line?
That's just what it sounds like after a team gives up, fires its coach and jettisons two of its best veterans—all the while holding on to the guy who took much of the blame for sinking the team's hopes in the first place (Raymond Felton).
That locker room must sound like a permanently dropped call.
Led by youngsters Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton and Jason Thompson, these Sacramento Kings aren't exactly a veteran squad.
All things considered, they haven't been half bad, and they could get even better with a little control, improved chemistry and a renewed defensive commitment—in short, with a little more experience.
This is one team that shouldn't fear age. It could use the refinement.
That's right. Gregg Popovich is without a doubt the NBA's "most interesting man in the world."
His iconoclastic persona and ingenious coaching put him in a category of his own. He's managed to coach the San Antonio Spurs to yet another unlikely contender-like season while remaining ever mysterious in the process.
Would it surprise anyone if he closed every huddle by telling his team, "Stay thirsty, my friends..."?
Every time I watch the Toronto Raptors play—once every two seasons admittedly—I can't help but think of the Five Hour Energy guy.
By all appearances, this is exactly how every man on the Toronto roster awakes every morning. Worse yet, Canada appears to be in dire need of some trendy caffeine supplements. The Raptors may never awake from this slumber.
There's really nothing not to like about the Utah Jazz, and that's what makes them the most boring team in the league.
That and the fact so many of their baskets come on mid-range jumpers or in the post. Al Jefferson is as underrated as they come, but he might get better ratings if he wasn't so unapologetically boring.
How boring is this team? So much so that Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili couldn't even muster the excitement for a trip to Utah for their game against the Jazz this week.
All right, that might have had more to do with Gregg Popovich trying to get his stars some rest—but I think my explanation makes for a better story.
This season has been nothing for the Washington Wizards if not a Chantix-like waking nightmare.
After Washington's thoroughly embarrassing start to the season, Ted Leonsis' team jettisoned coach Flip Saunders along with young talent like JaVale McGee and Nick Young.
Much like the Chantix scenario, the organization turned on those closest to it—the franchise needed some kind of change, even if that meant giving up on some promising prospects.
Despite the rearrangement, Washington is still just 14-44 on the season and struggling to snap out of this nightmare.