Most Embarrassing NBA Endorsement Commercials of All Time

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistDecember 1, 2012

Most Embarrassing NBA Endorsement Commercials of All Time

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    The NBA marketing machine has become a behemoth in the television world, making some of the most thrilling and enjoyable commercials of the past decade.

    Of course, the fact that they get to work with some very charismatic players certainly helps, and it shows in most of the commercials companies make starring NBA players.

    What we get are consistently good commercials, but a sort of longing for the past. The '80s and '90s were littered with good commercials, but they were also dotted with quite a bit more pimples and blemishes.

    Everyone always got a kick out of seeing Larry Johnson in drag as Grandmama, but there were also commercials that would make you cringe every time they came on. They were gleefully terrible.

    The fact is that they were different times. The league was in its infancy in terms of popularity, and companies would just grab anybody with a slightly recognizable face and put them on television, usually with disastrous results.

    An endless display of bad acting, horrible commercial ideas, bad background music and just awkward commercials in general are the history the NBA has made for itself on television, and lucky for us it's all documented on the Internet.

    Warning: the '90s was a colorful decade. If you're easily upset by pastel colors and terrible acting, proceed with caution.

10. Kobe vs. LeBron

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    Nike and the NBA hyped the Kobe Bryant-LeBron James rivalry like it was going to be the next Larry Bird-Magic Johnson feud, only with more puppets.

    I never disliked the puppets for the two players, it was a different and inventive way of putting out normally formulaic commercials.

    The only problem was that the two never had a rivalry. Not even close. LeBron had a more serious rivalry going with DeShawn Stevenson and Kobe pretty much dislikes everybody equally.

    Beyond that, it always seemed to be hype for the impending NBA Finals matchup between the two players, something that also never happened.

    This was always more of an embarrassment for Nike and the league for trying to make something out of what was little more than an interesting matchup.

9. American Girls Like My Face?

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    Early '90s Vlade Divac was a much different Divac than we knew in the late '90s. There was a thicker accent, less flopping, and a lot less neck-beard thanks to Schick.

    The product coupling makes sense. Vlade has a ridiculously thick beard, so any razor company should want to jump on that as quickly as possible. They just took a wrong turn somewhere and decided to make a bad, goofy commercial, rather than just having Vlade shaving.

    Plus it's never a good thing when you have to introduce the commercial with a cut-screen that describes who the following people are. 

    And, unfortunately for Vlade, not even shaving his coarse, manly beard got the American girls to like his face.

8. Too Much Dwight

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    Most of the time, newer commercials do a good job of pointing out their endorser's strong suit, at least giving them the tools to avoid looking ridiculous.

    Something tells me, however, that Vitamin Water deciding to throw together a commercial where it looks like Dwight Howard is talking to himself seems to be a bit of a mistake.

    First of all, the entire commercial is just Howard talking nonstop. He's not really talking about anything, either, just about why he's awesome while doing impressions of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rick James.

    Vacillating between crazy and annoying, Howard spends the entire commercial talking nonsense before finally getting to the product.

    Don't worry though, your boy gets his vitamins, the boy definitely gets his vitamins.

7. Minute Maid? Really?

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    The soda wars of the past are greatly detailed, people siding with Coke or Pepsi and taking a hard and fast stance that they are on the right side.

    Of course, the NBA sided with Minute Maid. Splendid.

    To celebrate the historic pairing, the two threw Isiah Thomas, Patrick Ewing and Dominique Wilkins into a commercial together.

    It involves shots cut together so quickly that it looks like a terrible movie fight scene where you have no idea what's happening, pan flutes, camaraderie, and of course, betrayal.

    There's no way somebody would be stealing this particular empty gym's last beverage besides Isiah Thomas, keeping up his bad-boy reputation.

6. Hot and Spicy Chicken

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    Magic Johnson is the only one to show up in more than one of the most embarrassing commercials of all time, and he earns each spot.

    Of course, the fact that he's gone down as one of the worst broadcasters and the worst part of ESPN's pre-game show is unsurprising after watching these.

    Thankfully for us, if Magic weren't one of the league's most marketable superstars of the '80s, we would be without some of the best terrible commercials ever.

    The best part of the entire thing is easily the two guys who try to get Magic to share his chicken with them, reacting incredulously as Magic tells them they couldn't handle the heat, just before Magic shoots fire out of his mouth, of course.

    A flaming ball rockets into the hoop and then he utters the most predictable, uninspired line ever, "They don't call me Magic for nothin'."

5. Magic the Magician

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    Most of this commercial is forgivable. It was the '80's, and people were doing weird things then.

    The gist of the commercial doesn't seem too bad, with the "Feelin' 7Up" song blasting the entire time, Magic doing little more than a few dribbles between the legs, the close up on the glass of 7Up in case we didn't know what was going on from the song already and the inclusion of a very Larry Bird-looking Ann Meyers.

    However, the absolute worst part of the entire spot comes in just four seconds near the end of the commercial as Magic turns a basketball into a bottle of 7Up.

    Not only is it terrible magic (you can see the ball falling with the towel), but the, "Now you see the ball, now you don't. Look at my hand now. Voila!" might be the strangest voice we've ever heard from Magic.

    It's cheesy from top to bottom, but it seems to be one of the early basketball commercials that followed the predictable path of just packing an outdoor court with people as they watched players do unremarkable things, so there's that.

4. So. Much. Color.

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    If I ever need to describe the early '90s to someone in commercial form (which is something that happens more than you might expect), this is the one I'm showing them.

    It's got Spike Lee doing more than just screaming at referees, unnecessary product placement, Tim Hardaway, ridiculous sound effects, super-fast editing cuts, hordes of dudes awkwardly huddling around a basketball court and a non-orange basketball.

    Oh, and all that color. 

    Apparently this all took place at a place called "Spike's Urban Jungle Gym," a place that may or may not have been Willy Wonka's acid trip, that was just so chocked full of color that there may be a peacock on full display and you'd have no idea.

    Of course, the highlight of the entire thing has to be Tim Hardaway proclaiming, "I got skeeels." Just beautiful.

3. Tell 'em Michael Sent Ya

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    It seems that when Michael Jordan goes shopping at Food Lion (something he obviously does, you did just see it in a commercial), he apparently puts on his favorite pair of Zubaz pants, gushes over the terrific savings and tosses cabbages around.

    My absolute favorite part about the commercial is that Food Lion felt the need to subtitle MJ with "Michael Jordan, NBA All-Star." Is that not amazing to anyone else? There was a period of time when a company was in doubt about the majority of their audience knowing who Michael Jordan is.

    Going further, we also get a look into the past to see that MJ's terrible pants-wearing habit isn't a recent development; it's something that goes way back.

    Oh, and the next time I venture into a Food Lion, I'm going to make sure to tell the cashier that Michael sent me. I'm sure they'll appreciate it.

2. Scottie Pippen and Mr. Submarine

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    What we have here is the perfect formula for making the best local commercial possible in any era in television history. If this commercial comes out in 2012, 1992, 1972 or 1942, it's equally hilarious and cringe-inducing.

    Right off the bat, we've got a giant flying submarine sandwich pasted over the Chicago skyline as it fades into a gym with Scottie Pippen dribbling up to an upright six-foot sub.

    Cue terrible acting, sexual innuendo, Pippen uncomfortably sitting cross-legged and then dunking a ball as it turns into a sandwich.

    Honestly, there is no singular word to describe how terrifically bad this spot is. It seems that the company put all their money into getting Pippen to do the commercial before actually planning the thing out.

    It's one of the most embarrassing commercials in the history of television, but we have to send our thanks to local businesses everywhere for continuing to put out commercials on small budgets. They, too, can be as bad as Mr. Submarine if they just put in the elbow grease.

1. Wilt Chamberlain and Castoria...For Children

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    Ladies and gentlemen, the winner for most awkward mother-son commercial of all-time is a runaway. Wilt and Olivia Chamberlain.

    This commercial, this beautifully painful commercial, is nothing but a mother talking about her son's constipation problem as a small child.

    Wilt reacted as any of us would, with awkward silence, a spare glance at the camera from time-to-time and unbridled disregard for the product he's hawking. It all comes to a glorious finish with Olivia's, "Isn't that so, Wilt?" Followed by his, "(Sigh) You tell 'em, Ma."

    In the history of the NBA, nobody has ever made Wilt Chamberlain look as uncool as he did standing next to his mom while she chatted idly about laxatives. But you know what, he still seemed like a pretty cool dude in the long run.