By Gregory Moore
Is anyone really watching the NBA Finals right now?
After last night’s 101-96 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, I’m beginning to wonder if anyone who is pulling for the Orlando Magic really believe this team has a chance at winning a game in the series.
More importantly is anyone from the advertising world giving a hoot about this series: especially Nike and Vitamin Water.
For at least a month, the brain trust on Madison Avenue have us the MVPuppets.
The puppet characters of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant seemed to set up that the NBA’s two biggest stars were destined to be in the NBA Finals this June.
Vitamin Water ran several commercials in conjunction with ESPN on who was the better player.
But like what happened with the Pepsi commercial of Dave O’Brien and Dan Johnson, the big match up never took place.
The Orlando Magic, led by Dwight Howard, usurped that notion and sent the Cleveland Cavaliers back home.
The only thing that is left of the great advertising campaign of this year’s big game is the fact that Howard has his own Vitamin Water commercial and that Nike rolled out another character called “Li’l Dez”.
If the matchup between the Magic and the Lakers is now what NBA fans wanted, you can rest assured that the big ad honchos don’t like it either.
The pitchmen are at their wits end just like Stan Van Gundy is on how to defeat the Lakers and for the rest of us we’re stuck with mindless video montages or interviews of lessor known players in between the two halfs.
All because Madison Avenue jumped the gun once again in determining who were going to be in the final showdown in a sport and in product sales.
JAMES KNEW BETTER BUT STERN MADE SITUATION WORSE
LeBron James was definitely out of line last week when he didn’t shake hands with the Magic.
I can get over him snubbing the press.
As a matter of fact the players who were up on the podium after that game six loss needed to answer some tough questions.
But what was a situation that is normally handled fairly quickly got out of hand when NBA Commissioner David Stern first said that LeBron wasn’t going to be fined and then later re-canted and said that “the rules are the rules”.
Stern rarely missteps but when he does, it’s a doozy and folks, this one was a whopper.
James had to be fined and an announcement should have taken place no later than two days after the event. But Stern allowed the league office to waffle on the decision and that could have been disasterous for the league.
You don’t hesitate in dishing out fines; no matter who the player is.
Stern had been working on an image clean up of the league for several years and as you notice the post game interviews, the players are in business attire of some sort. Now fans may not like it but from a business standpoint not only was it a no brainer, it was needed.
But to let James skate his duties as a league superstar AND not fine him was just a signal the league should have never even come to light.
Two things were apparent that needed to have happen in front of the NBA audience; LeBron should have shown good sportsmanship at the end of the series and he should have talked to the press in some fashion.
Now like I said I can get over the latter but the former was a no no.
As wrong as it may seem, there are still parents who let their kids look up to athletes as role models and there is no bigger one right now than King James.
James should have walked over to Howard, hugged him and said something in his ear; or at least put on a good pretense of the act.
But he didn’t and he is still getting hammered for it.
As well he should.
But the league needed to get hammered on their misstep too.
Letting James almost off the hook for not doing his media duties after the game was more than an oversight; it was borderline egregious.
Yet all is right in the world right now.
Both sides have done what needed to be done.
At least what we did see from LeBron was real emotion.
Something that sometimes gets lost in the glass bubble of pro sports.