Pop Culture: The 10 Greatest Sports TV Commercials of All Time
The greatest thing about a sporting experience is not always the game itself. Yes, Gibby's walk-off home run in 1987 or MJ's jumper over Bryon Russell in 1998 are fixtures that will remain in our minds forever.
But what we cannot forget are the other parts of the game that leave us with memories to draw upon. The modern sports star is no longer just an athlete, but an iconic pop star with the ability to draw attention off the court.
Media is the funnel many of these athletes take to garner more exposure. Whether it be a movie, a bit on SNL, a popular TV show or a good ol' fashioned commercial, today's stars are the Herculean figures of an entire generation.
Considering I come from an era when commercials took on a whole new meaning in the arena of business marketing, I have listed the ten best sports commercials of all time. All of these remind me of my childhood, and have given me laughter for years and many more years to come.
10: Converse "Grandmama" Commercial Featuring Larry Johnson
When this commercial came out it had two interesting factors. First, Larry Johnson, the former Runnin' Rebel superstar with an insane ability to jump out of the gym, was one of the most popular names in all of the NBA. The No. 1 pick in the 1991 Draft was every kid's choice to mimic on the blacktop.
But, something was very very wrong about seeing Larry Johnson in a baby blue floral print moo moo. That alone took the star rating down a notch and made all of us kids re-think our opinions of him.
Secondly, this had to be a shocker to many conservative people all across America. What exactly was Converse trying to say? Though I argue nothing, Converse was just musing in a game of jest, and the commercial regrettably burned itself into the memory of all who unfortunately watched this.
"There was an ol' lady who lived in a shoe..." has to be one of the most cheesiest, god-awful lyrics ever written. Not to mention the gold tooth with the gray wig is an image that will never be replicated.
9: Michael Jordan "Frozen Moment" Nike Commercial
Nike was and always will be the trend-setter, shoe-wise. Considering they will always be MJ's choice of shoe, it is fair to say such a statement will be true for the rest of their mogul-sized existence.
Michael Jordan is a name that brings life to any event. No matter if you are watching him on the court, the golf course, on the sidelines of Bobcats games or playing really bad baseball for the White Sox, MJ is the face of an entire generation and the NBA as a whole.
Move over, Jerry West.
When this commercial came out, it was brilliant on many different levels. Not only does it capture the momentary magic of sports as a whole, but the cinematics involved are equally delicious. Gifted with a fine sound track, the game's greatest athlete and a diverse network of various pedestrian shots, the commercial leaves its viewers reminiscing.
8: LeBron James "What Should I Do?" Nike Commercial
The reason this commercial is ranked in the top 10 is because of its relevance to one of the hugest debates in all of NBA history.
Just that name rouses people to a varied gamut of emotions. This commercial, whether you like the guy or you don't, was a timely piece that is both philosophically acquiescent and full of beautiful cinematography.
James, known around the league as a phenomenal actor, displays his on-camera abilities in various small roles. His likability in the commercial is beautifully woven together with a question many of us ask on a regular basis: "What should I do?"
Just that question makes sense to all who watch the commercial. We all know what LeBron did. He chose South Beach and upset the apple cart in the NBA forever. But none of us can question this artful representation of reality's confusing landscape.
7: Miller Lite Commercial Featuring Bob Uecker
I had to give Bob Uecker some love. Not only is the opening line humorously self-deprecating, but Bob, better known as Harry Doyle in the Major League movie series, is a character I'll never forget.
His voice is like no other from the '80s, and who can forget all the MLB playoff games he announced in the '90s? This commercial is like a perfect throwback Marvin Gaye jam; it just gets better with age.
No matter how far TV's artfulness has come, Bob Uecker cannot be replaced with fanciful shots, better lighting and an abundance of color contrast. His face is attached to the ultimate blue collar beer in America and is worthy of its placement on this list.
6: Peyton Manning Commercial Conglomerate
What I love about TV and the media world is when it finds a true diamond in the rough. Peyton Manning is not only hilarious on camera, but is the greatest quarterback in the history of football. This mesh of talent creates a mogul of sports media that can shake up all of big business economics.
I had to include Manning's commercials as a whole. He has been the face of many different products and none of them stood above the other. Why? Because the commercials are all brilliant. Nothing like hearing that classically country Manning accent doing biz on the big screen.
5: Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird Converse Commercial
This is one of the greatest commercials in sports history because of what it did for the league. Like a link on a chain link fence, this commercial created a dynamic rivalry in the '80s between the NBA's two biggest stars in Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
No other rivalry in all of hoops is as glorious as the Lakers vs. Celtics. That west coast/east coast momentum inflamed the nation as a whole. These two had deep-seeded hatred for one another for obvious reasons, but it was this commercial that joined the two together.
This relationship will forever be a staple for the NBA. At a time when race relations were still odd and the African-American athlete was still ascending to his or her place in the world of sports, there is no question this friendship was a fault line that shook this sore topic to the core.
4: Nike "House on Fire" Kobe/LeBron Muppet Commercial
This entire franchise of commercials is incredible. Not only does it fuel the debate over whether Kobe or LeBron is better, but it is the newest generation's TV bragging point.
LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are the two biggest stars to this generation. They are my generation's MJ and Shaq or Bird and Magic, and because of that, they are worthy of this placement.
Not to mention the entire series is funny. This commercial is my favorite of the series because I think it captures Kobe's personality the best of any of them.
The concept of a shoe burning down the house, and then Kobe yelling "LeBron you hear dat? My shoe is hot!" is the perfect ending to a commercial for two arrogant stars.
3: ESPN "Don't Walk" Promo Music Video Commercial
Dan Patrick opening the commercial talking in his deep voice about ESPN's love for causes makes this musical video that much more funny.
Enter Charlie Steiner's horrific tone deafness, and the video is set for a classic climax with dozens of ESPN anchors singing to their hearts content.
"Don't Walk," was inspired by an NBA rule change in the '90s that began to call travels on a player's first step. Patrick Ewing and many others were known for their ongoing travel post moves. This commercial set the bar at the time for creativity, lyrical humor and timely relevance.
2: Nike "Lil' Penny" Commercial Featuring Anfernee Hardaway and Chris Rock
Bar none, this is the most memorable commercial franchise in modern history. Anfernee Hardaway in his prime was the second coming of Magic Johnson. The 6'7" point guard, whether he was tossing the ball up to Shaq or scoring in the post, was one of the five best players alive.
But come on, Chris Rock? Rock is, hands down, THE comedian of the modern era and was on his A-game in these commercials. His perfect nasally tone with that scratchy voice is one that we have all grown accustomed to over the last twenty years.
This was a slam dunk franchise. It was the first post-MJ Nike commercial franchise to spark the public interest. For that, it ranks highly.
1: Gatorade "If I Could Be Like Mike" Commercial Featuring MIchael Jordan
It would not make sense to leave MJ out of this position. This commercial, a cheesy inspirational piece, was the soundtrack for any kid's life from the late '80s to the mid-'90s.
MJ set the world on fire and was like a superhero for any young kid. Watching him soar to his numerous jams, hit the fadeaway and win titles was iconic.
What is best about this commercial is a bad vibrato version of Michael McDonald with an African sound. I am sorry, but Michael McDonald is better fit pounding a nail than he is singing, and the Lion King is more fit for a five year old's slumber party.
For this reason, this commercial could not be forgotten. MJ, the greatest star, with the worst musical choice possible, is Charlie Sheen's version of winning.