Seventy three people around the United States have been hospitalized as a result of being exposed several times to an NBA television advertisement featuring former Los Angeles Lakers' legend Magic Johnson and former Boston Celtics' Hall-of-Famer Larry Bird.
NBA Commissioner David Stern, when asked about the incidents by reporters Monday afternoon, avoided directly addressing the situation; something Stern has become quite adept at over the years.
"It is our understanding that several fans have fainted or otherwise become ill following the viewing of one of our NBA Finals promotional ads that have been airing during games one and two on ABC. We have no reason to believe that these incidents are anything other than natural reactions caused by a few rogue, isolated viewers", Stern said.
San Antonian Greg Doyle, a lifelong diehard San Antonio Spurs' fan, was one of the fans hospitalized with what doctors described as "excessive, nonstop vomiting, believed to be caused by over-exposure to extreme close-ups of withered, wrinkly old men". The "withered, wrinkly old men" described by doctors are believed to be Johnson and Bird, respectively.
"To be honest, I was only tuning in to see if the NBA would let Joey Crawford officiate and effectively ruin the game", Doyle said, via a telephone call from his hospital bed. "Once I saw the close-ups of Magic and Bird, my stomach turned over, shock set in, and I fell off my couch, and the next thing I knew I was in this bed. Joey Crawford and HDTV are ruining my life".
In related news, it has been learned that the NBA and ABC have decided to not run similar ads featuring former Lakers F Kurt Rambis and former Celtics C Bill Walton, and Pistons' F Walter Hermann and Suns' F Sean Marks.
The Rambis/Walton ad was slated to run throughout game three of the finals, set to air Tuesday night on ABC.
"There's an inherent risk when you decide to run close-ups of old men on national television, especially at a time when high-definition televisions are becoming increasingly popular in American homes", said George Bodenheimer, president of ABC and ESPN sports.
Bodenheimer explained, "We took a gamble with this one, and it just didn't work out like we had originally planned. We believe that we come away from this stronger, and with a better understanding of how to appeal to the American public".
Bodenheimer added that Lakers coach Phil Jackson, 62, will not be pictured for the rest of the series, and the post-first and third quarter interviews will be broadcast only in audio format.