The Best Sports Ads of the Year so Far

Giancarlo Ferrari-King@@GiancarloKingFeatured ColumnistJuly 22, 2014

The Best Sports Ads of the Year so Far

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    You have to love the fact that sports are so big nowadays that it even dominates pop culture at times.

    Over the years we've all seen some pretty outstanding commercials from various outlets like Nike, ESPN, Adidas and others. Memorable ones like Michael Jordan's moments with Mars Blackmon are a testament to just how important these ads can be.

    This summer, that storied tradition of great sports advertisements has continued. Start the slideshow below and let's jump right into some of the best commercials running right now.

Jordan Brand: 'RE2PECT'

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    Derek Jeter's farewell tour has taken Major League Baseball by storm. One of the most popular players in recent memory has decided to hang up his cleats after 20 seasons in pinstripes.

    Paying homage to all things Jeter, Jordan brand—which just so happens to sponsor the legendary shortstop—created this mesmerizing ad.

    Filled with fellow icons in the professional sports world, everyone tips their caps to Jeter. There's Tiger Woods, Phil Jackson, Spike Lee, Action Bronson and, of course, Michael Jordan.

    Of all the clips, there's something really special about Jeter's ex-teammates and ex-manager Joe Torre tipping their caps in a dimly lit New York City restaurant.

Reebok: 'Speed from A to Z'

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    Running is probably one of the least fun things to do. For most of us who don't rummage around our neighbor like the folks in this Reebok commercial, the very sight of a dusty treadmill sitting off in the distance is frightening.

    Leave it to the creative mortals behind this ad to make running look cool by mixing in clips of other things that go really fast.

    On a serious note, stomping your feet all over the hoods of cars like you were Rick James laying on Eddie Murphy's couch is a good way to catch a Jon "Bones" Jones-style beating.

    Other than that, this was a heck of a TV spot.

ESPN: 'Rookie Mistake'

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    Over the years, the best thing to come out of the ESPN factory up in Bristol, Connecticut, hasn't been its nonstop sports coverage. It's actually been a series of groundbreaking commercials that to this day have enjoyed a remarkable sense of longevity.

    This gem strays away from the whole "This is SportsCenter" blend that made the brand so famous, instead poking fun at people's obsession with fantasy football.

    Throwing it back to a whole '70s, Kojak type of vibe, the "Rookie Mistake" ad is one of the best commercials to come out of the mothership's fantasy arsenal this year.

Adidas: 'Springblade Drive'

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    Bass-rattling electronic music is a real popular thing nowadays.

    Pretty much every company out there has incorporated this type of music into its advertising to appeal to the post-AOL Instant Messenger, pre-Tom on MySpace generation.

    Adidas jumped on the trend and introduced Buffalo Bills rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins to its family over a series of synth stabs and machine gun drums.

    The commercial itself is unique. It even has moments where it resembles the movie poster for Predator.

    It looks like Adidas is really diving headfirst into today's trends. All-red cleats? Thanks, Kanye.

Nike: 'Winner Stays'

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    The 2014 World Cup may be over, but this commercial will live on as one of the best we've seen on air this year.

    Being a kid, it's commonplace to pretend to be your favorite player on the basketball court, soccer field or elsewhere. This Nike spot takes it to the next level with a group of kids calling out the names of players they want to be, then turning into those guys.

    Nike has always had the pulse of what's going on. It's an incredibly powerful cultural powerhouse, which has changed fashion as we know it.

    This ad is ridiculously cool on all sorts of levels. It throws some of soccer's biggest stars together and even manages to weave Kobe Bryant and Anderson Silva into the fold.

    Nike knows by now that you can never go wrong with Kobe.

Oberto Beef Jerky: 'Little Voice in Your Stomach with Richard Sherman'

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    Richard Sherman and Stephen A. Smith's Oberto Beef Jerky ad has been running for a few months now, but that doesn't mean it's lost any of its luster.

    After flipping over monster-truck tires on what looks like one of the football fields used during the filming of Friday Night Lights, Sherman decides the best way to replenish is by drinking water—makes sense.

    Stephen A. Smith—acting as the voice in his stomach—has other plans. He tells him to forget water and instead house a big slab of beef jerky.

    I may be naive, but I've never seen an athlete polish off a bag of beef jerky right after an intense workout. If you have, please, share that tale with all of us in the comment section below.

ESPN: 'The Open Championship of Life'

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    Returning to the list for a second time, ESPN's "The Open Championship of Life" takes a look at how golf commentators would narrate everyday moments that go on in the workplace.

    The writers behind this ad were clever when they decided to inject golf lingo into real-life situations. It gets a little crazy after a while, but the spot itself manages to stay fresh throughout.

    What makes this commercial even more special is the fact that Ted Phillips is a real nine-to-five mailroom guru.

Nike SB: 'Sacked'

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    Skateboarding has done what rollerblading couldn't do: finagle its way into the landscape of pop culture and stay relevant.

    While rollerbladers are now mainly just bronzed 57-year-old men who live in Venice Beach, California, skateboarding's reach remains far and wide.

    Nike SB's ad "Sacked" is a testament to that. Playing off the world's love for football, it is telling people even though skateboarding is popular, it's not as commercialized as the rest of professional sports.

Nissan of Streetsboro: 'Nissan Go Long'

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    For my money, local commercials at its peak are better than national spots. Who needs fancy camera work, labor unions and million-dollar budgets?

    Take this example from Nissan of Streetsboro. Getting Johnny Manziel to drop back and throw a pass into the window of a Nissan running a route is television magic.

    Life must be good for Johnny Football. He has the best-selling jersey in the NFL right now, per's Darren Rovell, and he gets to sling footballs at cars.

WWE: 'Sting Debuts in WWE 2K15'

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    Professional wrestling has played home to a cast of characters since the WCW and WWE collided in the late '90s.

    When the WWE won the "war" and put WCW out of business, some of the organization's top talent wound up working for Vince McMahon's company instead.

    One name who never made it over was Sting.

    Sting, one of the most popular wrestlers of all time, has been linked to the WWE once again in recent weeks. His decision to join the WWE 2K15 roster has fans up in arms about his return to the ring.

    This ad, unveiling Sting's video-game debut for the WWE, brings back so many memories of him terrorizing the New World Order with a bat and face paint.

    Well done, WWE, well done.

Fox Sports: 'Go Live Streaming'

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    Fox Sports has been trying to steal a piece of ESPN's market share for a long time now. Even its advertisements are starting to somewhat resemble the juggernaut that lies awake at night in Bristol, Connecticut.

    This commercial actually turned out to be a step in the right direction.

    Promoting its streaming service, Fox Sports explains while the Internet used to be all about checking out women—it still is—it's now about streaming sports.

    The concept is fresher than Whole Foods' produce section, even if the truth is being bent like a David Beckham free kick.

ESPN: 'This Is SportsCenter'

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    Sorry, Fox Sports, but this is how it's done.

    Returning with its classic "This is SportsCenter" series of commercials, ESPN took Washington Nationals superstar Bryce Harper and created one of the best sports ads to air this summer.

    Using Field of Dreams as a gateway to tears, Harper's eye black runs down his face at the end of the flick. Of course, when he leaves the movie room and walks down the hallway, without knowing he was crying, the sportscasters think it looks hardcore.

Beats by Dre: 'The Game Before the Game'

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    Strictly from a visuals perspective, this World Cup-inspired Beats by Dre ad is the most stunning piece of film on this list.

    It takes a captivating five-minute look into the spectacle that was the 2014 World Cup. It really does a fantastic job showcasing just how grandiose of an event this thing has become over the years.

    From an American vantage point, we follow our country. Then when they get ousted, most of us lose interest. But for the rest of the world, soccer is the pinnacle of sports.

    Beats by Dre has been making serious power moves in the last six months. Its commercials not only are giving Nike a run for "best in show," but it also managed to get bought out by Apple for an insane sum of money.

Oberto Beef Jerky: 'Little Voice in Your Stomach with Clint Dempsey'

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    Stephen A. Smith returns to plugging Oberto Beef Jerky, except this time he's with Clint Dempsey of the Seattle Sounders.

    Just like he did with Richard Sherman, Smith forces Dempsey to put down a hunk of dry beef jerky after he's done kicking soccer balls into the back of the net.

    Smith's personality makes these spots memorable even if they don't hold a candle to the Jack Link's Beef Jerky Sasquatch commercials.

McDonald's: 'GOL! FIFA World Cup'

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    The final ad on our list comes by way of McDonald's.

    Taking its own approach to the World Cup, the company decided to use trick shots as a cool way to show off people's love for the game.

    There have been some really high-quality commercials to come out in the last couple of months regarding the World Cup. This McDonald's one is just another instance of great planning, execution and editing.