By Joey Pribyl-Shay
There is a travesty hurting one of the largest communities in America. It’s a war between two groups fueled by greed which is only harming innocent supporters. Of course I’m talking about the NBA lockout. Fans of professional basketball across the nation wallow in pity as the NBA season is dismantled slowly while owners and players argue on how to split their hundreds of millions of dollars.
As I watched SportsCenter hoping for a story about a miraculous lockout lift, a commercial ran that stopped my heart. Last season’s MVP, Derrick Rose, entering a bullfighting ring, crossing over a swarm of matadors on his way to an emphatic dunk, has been the closest resemblance to any NBA action I have seen in months. Immediately I searched for the commercial on YouTube and apparently others were desperate for any display of basketball skills because there were already over two million views. Clearly the NBA has no intention of entertaining us for some time, so it was refreshing to get a glimpse of basketball through a TV ad.
Commercials are a type of advertisement that viewers have enjoyed for decades. Some of the most classic commercials have been with NBA players. Recently Nike amused us with puppet versions of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. In the 90’s, we all witnessed a game of HORSE between Larry Bird and Michael Jordan for a Big Mac. These commercials have amused people for years.
However, certain advertisements have created a deep bond between player and fans. Professional basketball players are viewed differently than other athletes. Football and baseball players are hidden behind helmets and hats. In basketball, players’ faces and emotions are more exposed. Thus, fans feel closer to the athletes.
Commercials are an integral part of this relationship. In 1993, forward Charles Barkley was criticized for being a poor example to younger fans. He was notorious for stirring up controversy and getting in fights. A Nike commercial gave him a national platform where he denounced the idea that paid athletes should be role models. This allowed fans all over to see one of their icons with new perspective. Last year, LeBron James left his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to play for the Miami Heat. People were angered that he left and how publicly he made his decision. Overnight LeBron went from one of the most beloved players to the league’s villain. His Nike commercial explained his thoughts on the public outcry. LeBron simply states that it was his choice and that everyone should move forward. These outlets allow fans to feel an interaction with their beloved heroes.
During the lockout it should be clear that the desire for player interface with fans is more imperative than ever. Obviously we will not be watching games in the near future, so I am begging that players don’t forget us and continue to entertain us through commercials.