LeBron, Dwight remake a classic commercial

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Creating the perfect television commercial is, at best, an imperfect science. At worst? It’s a ‘throw it to the wall and see what sticks’ proposition, with little indication of what the adoring public will cling on to. Is the tagline catchy enough? The punchline funny enough? Are the stars likable enough? Oh, and is the TV spot even effective in displaying or showcasing the product at all?

It’s not easy. That’s why I’m thrilled that considering all of the television commercials out there, some charmingly memorable and some truly awful, the NBA has been featured in incredible commercial after incredible commercial. The NBA game naturally lends itself and its personalities to this type of marketing; in no other sport is the athlete as celebrated for their individuality. But it’s another thing for marketers to have that advantage at their disposal and another thing entirely for them to use it.

A great NBA commercial is simple. Rhythmic. It creates icons or it celebrates them. It pushes all the right buttons, be they dramatic or comedic, and it brings even more life and poetry to stars that play a game full of both.

You already knew that it was a great time to be an NBA fan, but it’s not just because of DVR, NBA League Pass, and the internet. The modern era has produced unforgettable basketball media in a completely unexpected form.

The latest and greatest in the grand tradition of NBA commercials is Dwight Howard and LeBron James’ re-creation of the classic H-O-R-S-E spot from McDonald’s:

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It’s a familiar concept flipped on its head, and two of the game’s most marketable stars doing exactly what two of the league’s most marketable stars did about two decades ago. The Jordan-Bird version was perfectly executed in the first place, and the modern cover equally so (and perfectly adjusted).

So the legend continues. The current crop of NBA stars is as charismatic and powerful as ever, and based on the latest crop of ads, the commercial crop is as charismatic and powerful as ever, too.

Russell Westbrook on Rockets laughing at Andre Roberson missing free throws: ‘Probably the guys that don’t play’

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The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.

Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Westbrook:

I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.

Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.

But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.

Report: Austin Rivers returning for Clippers-Jazz Game 5

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There have been bigger injuries in the Clippers-Jazz first-round series: Blake Griffin‘s toe, Rudy Gobert‘s knee and Gordon Hayward‘s stomach.

But Clippers guard Austin Rivers has yet to play due to a strained hamstring.

It sounds as if that will change tomorrow.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This is neither as big a deal as the Clippers will make it out to be nor as meaningless as Rivers’ many detractors will claim.

The 6-foot-4 Rivers will provide an important defensive upgrade on the perimeter. The Clippers haven’t successfully hidden Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton, allowing Utah too many quality looks. Here how the Jazz have shot when defended by each, per NBA.com:

  • Crawford: 18-of-36 (50%), including 7-of-17 on 3-pointers (41%)
  • Felton: 13-of-24 (54%), including 5-of-8 on 3-pointers (63%)

Rivers needn’t be great to help behind Chris Paul and J.J. Redick.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.