Growing up in the Michael Jordan era, I remember watching all of the dope Nike commercials featuring a new star at the time by the name of Penny Hardaway and his alter-ego puppet Lil’ Penny. For a little kid like me, the commercials were brilliant because it brought fun outside of basketball. Penny was LeBron James before LeBron James in the ’90s and was next in line for basketball reign as the legends of the ’80s were retiring. Every marketable basketball player has had the opportunity to be in commercials but there are only a select few that have had the chance to have their own alter-ego or sidekick in commercials.
Rather than players simply putting on a smile and appearing in a commercial for a brand, companies such as Nike went over the top by creating fictional characters in entertaining marketing attempts. Some of the best basketball commercials in history featured some of the best characters, and I counted down the most memorable of them here.
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10. Judge James â€“ Powerade
Starring: LeBron James
The commercial was released a couple days ago but that does not mean that “Judge James” cannot make this list. Prior to LeBron winning two NBA championships, he was getting slaughtered and criticized for everything he did. But after his coronation in 2012, LeBron’s popularity sky-rocketed, making him one of the most beloved sports figures in our generation. After being under the microscope for so long, Powerade has given LeBron the opportunity to get his payback in his own courtroom, donning the grey wig to match the judge criteria.
The judge character fits perfect with LBJ’s career as we have all been “Witnesses” to watching him play. Playing streetball, we have all encountered the different types of ballers that nag about everything (fouls, calling timeouts that were never real, and not calling backboard off bank shots). It is kind of ironic for LeBron to have a courtroom after the perception of him being pro-flopping. I also found it funny that LeBron obviously saw no problems with stacking teams in basketball with the best players. LeBron’s Bailiff is very comedic as well.
With LeBron, you could’ve also included the LeBrons from his Cleveland days. This campaign was easily one of the best I’ve ever seen and included this ad, which we ranked as a top five basketball commercial of all time.
9. Nike Hyperizers â€“ Nike
Starring: Kevin Durant, Mo Williams, Rashard Lewis and Andre Iguodala
The Nike Hyperizers commercial was an all-around cool concept to pay respect to old West Coast rap. With Kevin Durant as Velvet Hoop, Andre Iguodala as Chief Blocka, Rashard Lewis as Ice-O and Mo Williams as Fog Raw, the players became basketball MCs. It was also cool to see legendary DJ Quik make an appearance in the video. In my opinion, Fog Raw had the best verse.
You could call this the sequel, in a way, to Dr. Funk and the Roswell Rayguns, a three-part campaign that debuted in the spring of 2002 and starred Vince Carter, among others.