We've all seen them. In fact, they virtually slap you in the face each time you watch an NBA Playoff Game.... The Kobe vs LeBron sock puppet commercials.
These 1:30 spots not only promote the two as the top players in the league, they set a virtual stage to decide the debate (of who's better) on the court in the NBA FINALS!
Recently Dwight Howard voiced his displeasure with the commercials on his blog:
"I told ya'll the other day that we find it really disrespectful that everybody seems to be pulling for LeBron and Kobe to get to the Finals. Every time I look at TV, it seems like that's all anybody is talking about. It's like nobody is even giving us a shot at winning this series and we've used it as motivation."
"We're up 2-to-1 and we have a long way to go vs. the Cavs, but hopefully we can mess up those plans of getting Cleveland and L.A. in the Finals. If the lil' ol' Magic make it, what will they say then?"
To be fair, these commercials were not produced by the NBA. They are Nike ads intended to sell shoes. Kobe and LeBron are two high-profile pitchmen for the shoe giant. I don't blame Nike for using Kobe and LeBron to its advantage. That's why they shell out millions of dollars to use their name and image to sell its product. However, I do blame the NBA for allowing this to happen. Guilty By Association (GBA, not NBA).
Ultimately it's the NBA who looks bad. It allows doubt to enter the minds of fans of the other 28 teams in the league. If it is perceived (reality or not) the NBA wants to see a Cavs-Lakers finals, then any questionable call that goes Cleveland or L.A.'s way will fuel all conspiracy theories (something that the NBA is notorious for... 1985 NBA Draft, Patrick Ewing, frozen envelope ring a bell?). In the same manner it allows the Nuggets and Magic players to wonder if they're getting a fair shake in the series.
The Cavs vs Lakers WOULD be a great series. LeBron vs Kobe would be exciting (perhaps the next Magic v Bird). The NBA loves Superstars and loves to promote individuals. But it is clear the Denver Nuggets and Orlando Magic are the better "teams" and they may just have what it takes to stick it to the NBA... Slapping it in the face, just as the league has done to us with the constant inundation of Kobe vs LeBron.
I'll take Nuggets vs Magic because I appreciate what it means to be a "team."
Until next time, keep living the dream... Jesse Kurtz, KKTV Sports Anchor/Reporter