We all remember Kevin Durant’s MVP speech from last year. At once intimate and accessible, it was a rare glimpse into an athlete at his most vulnerable and emotional. The speech was met with lavish praise, as it should have been. And then the internet, being the worst, did what it always does and took something undeniably personal and made it into a meme. “You the real MVP” went from being the emotional crux of Durant’s speech to a pop culture phrase. Some of the resulting memes were funny. Most were not.
We’re now almost at the anniversary of the speech, and to commemorate it, Train Media Group, an Oklahoma City-based production company released a…commercial? video? “spot?” with real Oklahomans reciting parts of Durant’s address.
The commercial elicits mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s a nice touch having native Oklahomans in the commercial, instead of big-name actors. Visually, it’s well executed, doing a nice job juxtaposing Durant’s struggles with that of Oklahoma. There is a fierce pride that comes with living in the Midwest, and Oklahomans are no exception. Tugging on that pride is always a safe bet for advertising.
On the other hand, while the actors are natives, they still recite lines like actors. The smiles seem forced, artificial, or at the very least directed. It also gets a bit heavy-handed, if not downright cheesy at the end, with the little boy looking at Durant and repeating the now-famous line. The less said about the ball going sailing through the hoop in slow motion, the better.
Nike has done some really great spots with Durant over the years – from “Not Nice” to “The Baddest.” The NBA even did a Mother’s Day spot featuring the speech, and pulled it off perfectly. This spot attempts to reach for those, but it ultimately fails in that endeavor.
Durant said he didn’t have a plan when he went on stage. Whether that’s completely true or not, there was an undeniable organic sense to his speech. This video feels like a betrayal of that authenticity.