This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at the commercials for NBA Live 07 featuring Adam Morrison.
Taken third overall in the 2006 Draft, Adam Morrison’s career was short, individually unspectacular, but yielded two championship rings as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and 2010. The 2006 NCAA scoring leader, WCC Player of the Year, and NABC Co-Player of the Year didn’t quite live up to the hype in the NBA, but he did become a fan favourite and an inspiration for several memes. In that regard, he ranks up there with the likes of Brian Scalabrine and Joel Anthony. Of course, when you think about it, that’s actually a rather disrespectful practice on our part.
After all, they were players who were good enough to play professionally, and make it to the NBA. To reduce their careers to a punchline is to sell short their hard work, not to mention the fact that they’re still better at basketball than 99% of the population. A knee injury derailed Morrison’s career in just his second season, an often-overlooked factor when people label him a bust. As I said, he entered the NBA with a lot of hype, and it’s why EA Sports tapped him to appear in commercials for NBA Live 07. Those happen to be some of my favourite trailers, so let’s take a look back…way back…
“Playing with Emotion”
The first of Morrison’s three commercials, “Playing with Emotion“, refers back to his tearful breakdown in Gonzaga’s Sweet Sixteen loss in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. He was both praised and mocked for his show of emotion, and in the commercial, he takes ownership of the moment. It’s a good message about having intensity and caring about competing and winning. He even turns it around at the end with the boast that he’ll make others cry. Of course, that promise hasn’t aged particularly well. As you can see in the comments if you watch the video on our channel, many of them are about how his game makes people cry, or that Charlotte is crying over drafting him.
It’s unfortunate, but at the time, it was still a good commercial. With that being said, I would say that it’s my least favourite of the three. Again, it’s a good message, and I do like that they went for a more serious and dramatic tone, given that the other trailers are humorous. It has aged badly into unintentional humour though, and because it isn’t as light-hearted as the other two promo spots, it’s not as catchy or memorable. Given that he fizzled out of the NBA, it’s also a little sad in hindsight because he was full of hope and potential at that point. Still, he did end up with two championship rings, and I’m sure that no one made fun of him if he shed a couple of tears after that.
Though the second NBA Live 07 commercial featuring Adam Morrison is scored with dramatic music, “Nicknames” is anything but serious. In the trailer, Morrison runs down a list of nicknames he’d like to be known by as he prepares to enter the NBA. They’re mostly rather cheesy and ridiculous, but in a really good, fun way. Morrison’s deadpan delivery undoubtedly helps make the bit, and demonstrates that while he cares about the game and plays with emotion – as the first commercial makes very clear – he doesn’t take himself too seriously. I’m a big fan of dry, sarcastic, and self-deprecating humour, so a skit like this one really appeals to me.
I also find it funny in hindsight because around this time, nicknames in the NBA were getting rather stale and uncreative. It felt like a majority of them were just taking a player’s first initial and the first syllable of their surname (such as C-Webb), or their two initials and jersey number (CP3, for example). With that in mind, something more outlandish like “Spokane’s Most Wanted”, “Big Vanilla Earthquake”, “Mind-Boggling Morrison”, and the somewhat absurd “Hurricane Tsunami”, actually felt creative in their silliness. None of these monikers caught on, of course, but it was admirable that he could poke fun at himself as readily as he defended himself from jeering critics.
This is far and away my favourite promo spot that Adam Morrison did for NBA Live 07. Morrison’s shaggy mop and moustache (or “mustache” if you prefer the American spelling) gave him a distinctive style, and this commercial plays into that. Once again completely deadpan, The Great Mustachio recounts how his moustache speaks to him, instructing him on how to care for it and promising to bring back the glory days when his style was in fashion. And of course, in the offseason, the duo of Adam Morrison and his moustache will solve mysteries, speeding from case to case in a muscle car. Do I even need to explain why this is a fantastic commercial?
Well, it probably doesn’t appeal to everyone, so I guess I should. As I said, I enjoy deadpan and self-deprecating humour, as well as the absurd. This trailer ticks all of those boxes, and it’s very memorable as a result. How many basketball video game commercials talk about a player’s moustache and plans to be some kind of 1970s TV detective in the offseason? As far as I’m aware, this is the only one. Say what you will about Adam Morrison as a player, and NBA Live 07’s shortcomings for that matter, but the pairing gave us three fine commercials. Some might say they’re lacking in charisma, but when loud is so often mistaken for funny, dry humour is refreshing.
Just in case you can’t get enough of Adam Morrison in NBA Live 07 commercials, upon their release, EA Sports also sent us (and other fansites and media outlets) a couple of behind the scene videos of the shoot. The first shows him shooting around for B-roll footage and filming his dialogue, while the second is a short interview where he talks about being a fan of NBA Live, what he likes about the game, and Total Freestyle Control. It’s definitely a snapshot of another time when you’ve got an NBA player talking about being a fan of NBA Live and growing up with the game, when players these days are far more inclined to have a history with NBA 2K.
I enjoy revisiting old commercials like these, even though in this case, the game in question isn’t one of my favourites. NBA Live 07 turned out to be a troubled release, but there was genuine excitement and anticipation during the preview season, and watching these old trailers takes me back. I’m also reminded of a time when EA weren’t just working with YouTubers and it was exciting to fire up my email and get new assets. And of course, there’s nostalgia for bygone days in the NBA, whenever a name from the era such as Adam Morrison comes up. He may not have made other NBA players cry, but his memorable commercials certainly made me smile.