LeBron James & Dwight Howard Channel Michael Jordan & Larry Bird, Sort Of

Jose SalviatiCorrespondent IIFebruary 8, 2010

I'm an open-minded kind of guy.  I have always been willing to at least give things a try before accepting or rejecting them.  I’ve sat through remakes of “Return to Witch Mountain” and listened to someone trying to improve on “Come Together” by the Beatles. 

My son came to me this morning very excited about the “new” movie called “Clash of the Titans”.  Sigh.  Seems that all they teach in Marketing 101 these days is how to go back to the 90's and 80's to troll for ideas.

That lesson was not lost apparently on the bright marketing minds at McDonald's.  They went back to 1993 to remake one of the most famous Super Bowl ads in time for this year’s big game.  Back in '93, McDonald's had two of the biggest names in the basketball, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, play one-on-one for lunch. 

It was the simplicity and believability of the ad that worked.  Sure, it wasn't logical that Bird and MJ were just hanging out in an empty gym, but MJ gambling for a burger, sure, that’s believable!

Fast forward to 2010 , McDonald's tabs LeBron in the MJ spot and Dwight Howard as Bird.  The first twelve seconds start exactly the same as the original.  LeBron walks in carrying his lunch.  Howard gives us his best “What you talking about Willis”-look as he asks James what’s in the bag.  Just like Bird asked MJ seventeen years earlier.  Then, comes the challenge, first one to miss watches the other one eat.

That’s where the latest commercial veers to the left of the original.  In 1993 Bird, who couldn’t touch the rim on a ladder, made the rules of the game clear to the high flying Michael Jordan, “no dunks!”  In 2010 Howard, a career 60% free throw shooter who has made only one three point shot in sixteen attempts in his career, makes the rules clear to James, “no jump shots!”. This was going to be a dunk contest!

I wonder if Shaq had the inside scoop on this All-Star Jam Session when he called out Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter and others to take on James at the dunk contest during All Star weekend to benefit Haiti? 

The commercial has James put up two dunks that must have had the folks at CGI studios busy.  The first one was a flat footed 540 degree reverse dunk.  Re-touched? Sure, but because its James, you let it slide just like we did Jordan’s shot in 1993 that ricochets off the scoreboard and hits nothing but net. 

Later James goes high for not one, but two between the leg exchanges while in the air for a dunk.  Is that even possible?  Its LeBron James, it’s a commercial, it’s possible!

Howard’s face-time leans more towards his personality and with the exception of his final dunk I didn’t notice any dunk he did that wasn’t in his repertoire.  When he starts by describing his first dunk with all the arm gyrations and contortions to his face, well, it was funny. 

I think we can officially crown him the next “Big Little Man” taking the title from Shaquille O’Neal.  Howard’s final dunk is a 360 from the free throw line.  After explaining it but before attempting the dunk he lifts both hands to the heavens for a long “Ahhhhhhh”.  Again, funny.

The resulting CGI’ed Howard dunk brings the backboard down on the two superstars.  Remember back when that really used to happen?  Quick young ones, Youtube Darryl Dawkins.  Ah, never mind, I did it for you here !

This is where the commercial goes weird for me.  James begins to chide Howard, who is holding the rim in his hands, for ruining the game when they hear applause.  Larry Bird is sitting there, finishing off their lunch as he congratulates them for a good show and walks away. 

The two superstars wonder who the strange guy with the porn star mustache is that took their lunch.  Um, that’s Larry Bird!  I can forgive the CGI dunks for the sake of the commercial, but pretending not to know Bird, unforgivable.

The commercial made me laugh though, I admit.  I won’t rush out to buy a Big Mac anytime soon however.  I don’t have anytime to, my daughters want to go buy this great new CD called “We are the World”.  Sigh.

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