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SBD/Issue 172/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing
NBA Might Love LeBron-Kobe Finals, But Would League Sponsors?
Published May 27, 2009
|Bryant, James Endorse Nike, Vitaminwater,
But Rivals Adidas, Gatorade Sponsor NBA
PUPPET MADNESS: The Magic defeated the Cavs 116-114 in overtime last night to take a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals, and in Orlando, Mike Bianchi writes Howard "will finally begin to be treated like the superstar he is" with a conference title. Bianchi: "This is the only way Nike will know it should have locked up Dwight years ago, put him in that puppet commercial." Howard prior to Game Four closed a blog entry on his Web site with, "I guess I gotta go watch another one of these LeBron and Kobe commercials on TV" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/27). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay wrote the Magic beating the Cavs is "not supposed to happen." Gay: "Think of poor Nike. They've committed millions of dollars to that fancy ad campaign featuring trash-talking puppets of LeBron and Kobe Bryant. They don't have enough felt to stitch together a trash-talking Dwight Howard puppet" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/26). Meanwhile, with the Nuggets-Lakers Western Conference Finals series tied at 2-2, FanHouse.com's Jay Mariotti said, "Memo to the Vitaminwater and Nike people. What about [Nuggets F] Carmelo Anthony? It's Kobe versus LeBron, the Nike puppets. Where's the Carmelo puppet?" ("Around the Horn," ESPN, 5/22). CNBC's Darren Rovell reports Vitaminwater execs "are scrambling to figure out how to update their Kobe vs. LeBron spot" if their clubs fail to advance to the NBA Finals. If Magic face the Nuggets in the Finals, Vitaminwater is expected "to utilize both Howard and [Nuggets G Chauncey] Billups in some sort of spot" (CNBC.com, 5/27). Anthony said of a Nuggets-Magic Finals, "That would make a lot of people really mad" (SI, 6/1 issue).
James Guarded Against Cramps Before Game
Two, But Is That Vitaminwater He's Drinking?
LEBRON LOVE: The ORLANDO SENTINEL's Bianchi Monday wrote under the header, "LeBron James Hype Is Out Of Control." James hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer during Friday's Game Two, but "from listening to all the hoopla, you'd think it was the greatest shot since William Tell split the apple sitting atop his son's head." Bianchi: "Don't get me wrong, this is not LeBron's fault. He is an exceptional player, but the fawning fans, media and refs are making everybody sick of him. A classic case of LeBron LeBurnout. And if you haven't caught it, it's only because you haven't turned on ESPN since his buzzer-beater in Game 2. From hearing the commentators coo over him, you'd have thought LeBron had just scored the winning goal for the 1980 U.S. hockey team" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/25). In St. Petersburg, John Romano writes James has the "TV commercials, the scoring title and the MVP award. ... He may even have traces of Michael Jordan in his basketball DNA." Romano: "But, the reality is, until James wins an NBA title, it looks like so much decoration" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 5/27).
DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC? In West Palm Beach, Chris Perkins reported the Magic for Sunday's Cavaliers-Magic Game Three at Amway Arena "put blue T-shirts on the seats in one half of the arena and white T-shirts on the seats in the other half to create a blue-white scene." The effect "wasn't as cool as the idea, but it was a good effort" (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 5/24).