I must admit, these talking basketball NBA Finals ads are pretty damn clever. The Dr. J one actually caught me by surprise. Julius Erving’s heartfelt—emotional, even. The first time I saw the ad, I was actually moved.
Yet, for as innovative and unique a campaign as these ads are, the NBA left an even greater opportunity for brilliance on the table. The league and its ad agency could have taken a look at the other side of the NBA Finals, too. The darker side.
Imagine an ad with a gray-haired Nick Anderson, talking to the basketball about missing four free throws at the end of regulation during Game One of the ’95 NBA Finals. Picture John Starks, talking to the basketball, re-visiting his 2-for-18 Game Seven performance in Houston back in 1994. Or Cliff Robinson, still dumbfounded after all these years, playing back those Michael Jordan three-pointers.
It’d be “In Treatment”, only starring a deflated slab of leather in the Gabriel Byrne role.
The ad I’d want to write copy for? Frank Brickowski, looking back on his 1996 NBA Finals experience. Yes, the one in which Brickowski—a 17-year veteran of the league at the time—played a total of just 58 minutes in six games, but still managed to commit 16 personal fouls and get ejected from Game One.
Talking Basketball: You scored 7,000 career points and played 17 seasons in the NBA. And yet, your shining NBA Finals moment is being baited into technical fouls by … Rodman?
Frank Brickowski: It was Game One of the 1995-96 NBA Finals. I’d waited an entire career for this moment. We were a young Sonics team, led by Kemp and Payton, and I was one of the veteran big bodies. Someone needed to keep Dennis Rodman off the boards.
Talking Basketball: But “Brick”, you averaged nearly 17 points a game just two seasons earlier. You were a bona fide, all-around NBA player. You weren’t some big body with no game. You weren’t some goon. What happened?
Frank Brickowski: Game One, I gave him an “elbow”. I was hit with a flagrant. From there…
Talking Basketball: Two technical fouls on top of it. You were ejected. The first NBA Finals game of your career and you were ejected after two minutes of play? You let Jack Haley get under your skin? You let Rodman get the best of you? In just two minutes of action?!
Frank Brickowski: It was a flop, talking basketball! Anyone who watches the highlight can see. Joey Crawford blew the whistle and then I lost my cool. I think about it every day, basketball. Every day. It was a flop! He freakin’ flopped.
Talking Basketball: Then, Game Three. You let him get the best of you again. After you were tangled up underneath, he stood next to you, squared up, and just stared at you during those free throws. He played you like a fool on national television.
Frank Brickowski: I know, I know. But, then we won Games Four and Five! Rodman was contained. I did my job …
Talking Basketball: You lost the series, “Brick”. And you stooped to his level. You tarnished your good name. And you lost the series.
Frank Brickowski: [Nodding head and wiping eyes] You’re right. [Pause] You’re right.
The 2011 NBA Finals Start on June 2nd.
More from “Talking To Talking Balls Week” at the Good Men Project:
Bethlehem Shoals: The Absurd Talking Balls
Tim Burke: A Cavs Fan’s Love for Laimbeer
Tom Ley: The Ballad of Adam Morrison
Andy Hutchins: Nice Try, Kobe
Eric Nusbaum: Lakers Flags
Patrick Hayes: Patrick and The Admiral
Graydon Gordian: Sprewellian Anxiety
Alan Siegel: The Hypocrisy of Jordan’s Ball
Andrew Bucholtz: Chuck, This Is Goodbye
Holly MacKenzie: Everything Is Possible
Kurt Helin: Lee’s Layup