Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.
I’m going with a lighter topic for The Friday Five this week, as I list my top five favourite basketball video game commercials. No doubt I’ll be back to covering topics with a little more substance sooner rather than later, but I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some memorable advertisements for NBA Live, NBA 2K and NBA Jam that got us talking about the games, or at the very least were entertaining to watch.
Just to clarify before I begin the countdown, I’m picking commercials and promotional spots here, as opposed to pure gameplay trailers. Including both in the one countdown would make for a long list and some very difficult choices, so picking my five favourite gameplay trailers is a topic for another day. With that said, here are my 5 Favourite Basketball Video Game Commercials!
5. “NBA JAM Presents: Boom SHAQA Montage” (NBA Jam: On Fire Edition)
I’ve mentioned NBA Jam: On Fire Edition a few times in previous Friday Fives, nominating it as one of my favourite basketball video games to date, as well as the best arcade basketball game we’ve seen so far. I’m bringing it up again this week, as shortly after the game came out in October 2011, EA Sports released an entertaining promotional spot featuring Shaquille O’Neal.
In the spot, Shaq fills in for long-time NBA Jam announcer Tim Kitzrow with some custom dunk calls, submitted by fans via the game’s official Facebook page. If I had to pick a favourite line, it would probably be “What goes up, must throw down”; hats off to whoever submitted that one. I also love Shaq’s delivery on “Clean up on aisle three…that dunk was dirty”. As cool as it would’ve been to hear Tim Kitzrow performing the calls, getting Shaq involved made it a lot more fun.
4. “Reign” (NBA 2K14)
I went back and forth on including this one. As impressive as I find it to be, it is pretty close to being a gameplay trailer, which as I mentioned, is a topic for another day. However, it is indeed a TV spot, and does feature the real LeBron James in parts, so I’ve decided that it qualifies for this list.
What can you say about this commercial? It’s very well-produced, an effective means of demonstrating the big jump in graphics on the new generation. The music fits very well, and it succeeds in getting you excited about NBA 2K14. It’s actually still being shown during pretty much every commercial break of NBA games airing on ESPN Australia, which I have to admit is probably keeping me from ranking it higher in the countdown; truth to be told, I’m a little tired of it at this point. Still, going by my initial reactions and how impressive it is, I have to rank it in my top five.
3. “Jordan Invitation” (NBA 2K12)
I’m not going to pretend that it was difficult growing up a Michael Jordan fan. The man enjoyed a lot of success, produced so many memorable moments, and his Chicago Bulls teams won a lot. However, in the Serious Business that is the Greatest Basketball Player of All-Time Debate, MJ fans like myself must contend with the claims of two separate groups: older fans who insist that the players who came before MJ were far superior, and younger fans who opine that Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have far surpassed him. I won’t get into the whole debate here, but I will make the inflammatory remark that both groups are terribly wrong, and that Michael Jordan is still The Greatest. Please send your hate mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I think that’s why I enjoyed this promotional spot for NBA 2K12 as much as I did. In addition to hyping up the awesome feature that was NBA’s Greatest, it poked fun at the whole “greatest player” debate, only to present an obviously biased list of choices for the “greatest team” discussion. (Side note: Is MJ suggesting that “Who is the greatest player of all-time?” is a dumb question because it’s wrong to focus on the individual player, or is he in fact saying that there’s no question that he’s the greatest? You decide…) Some might be inclined to suggest that it was all pandering to Jordan’s ego, but I tend to think of it as being a promo that’s all in good fun, featuring one of the game’s cover players and someone who we know can really move merchandise.
2. “Mustache” (NBA Live 07)
From some of Michael Jordan’s greatest moments to one of his blunders. A successful, award-winning player in college, Adam Morrison would not enjoy a stellar NBA career, as he’s most frequently remembered by fans in the form of memes. In all fairness to MJ and the Charlotte Bobcats, Morrison did seem like a decent pick at the time, given his collegiate accomplishments. However, it just goes to show that standout college players aren’t guaranteed to become stars in the NBA.
EA Sports also jumped on the Adam Morrison bandwagon back in 2006, as they signed him to appear on the cover of NCAA March Madness 07, as well as promote NBA Live 07. It led to a series of commercials for the latter game, the most memorable of which was “Mustache”. I’m a fan of the deadpan and self-deprecating humour of the spot, not to mention the ridiculous imagery that it conjures up. Contrary to his proclamation, times weren’t exactly good for Adam Morrison, or NBA Live 07 for that matter, but at least a great commercial came out of the partnership.
1. “MJ’s Greatest Moments” (NBA 2K11)
Have I mentioned that I’m a Michael Jordan fan yet? Back in 2010, I was already intending to buy NBA 2K11 anyway, but the announcement of MJ as the cover player along with the inclusion of the Jordan Challenge certainly boosted my enthusiasm. Needless to say, a commercial that focused on those aspects of the game was bound to strike a chord with me. The fact that it also involved my favourite active player – Derrick Rose – didn’t hurt either.
Aside from all that, it’s a really fun commercial. I get the impression that all the players involved really enjoyed shooting it, from the witty quips to essentially becoming kids again and throwing down those dunks on the mini hoop. It celebrated Michael Jordan’s career and promoted the Jordan Challenge, but it also gave some of today’s stars a chance to shine and show some personality, making wisecracks and goofing around with each other. What’s not to like?
In closing, I’d just like to throw two honourable mentions out there: “Wait on the Square” (NBA Live 08) and “Signature Moves” (NBA 2K11), both of which featured NBA players weathering some good natured ribbing with a smile. What are some of your favourite commercials for basketball video games? Let me know in the comments below, and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum. Thanks for checking in this week, please join me again next Friday for another Five.