The Los Angeles Lakers franchise has a long, rich history of superstar talent that has donned the purple and gold jersey: from current day with Kobe Bryant, to stars from the recent past like Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, all the way back in time to the great Wilt Chamberlain. Having a history of immensely popular, marketable stars with a successful, high profile basketball franchise that makes the television and movie production capital of the world its home it’s only natural that these superstar talents are used in television commercials to pitch products.
In recent years, Kobe Bryant has dominated the small screen by appearing in countless commercials, such as the Turkish Airline spots with Lionel Messi and the “Count on Kobe” and “The Kobe System” ad campaigns. We’ve seen Lamar Odom make us very uncomfortable in his shirtless spot for his unisex fragrance line Unbreakable.
The current day commercials are great, well produced and shot in HD, but we thought, what about those great commercials of the past? Sure, they’re grainy, shot in low definition, the clothing trends are hard to look at now and some of the dialogue is pretty corny, but that’s what makes them fun to watch. Also, there is the whole Edmund Burke quote of “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it” thing that figures into this.
So we revisit the past and take a look at 10 of some of the best, funniest, classic commercials involving Los Angeles Lakers as pitchmen. All of the following commercials were aired during the time when the pitchman (or pitchmen in some cases) was a current Lakers player or coach.
The videos of all 10 commercials and their rankings below with a brief commentary of each:
10. Kobe Bryant’s NBA Courtside for Nintendo 64 (1998)
- Kobe was only in the league 2 seasons before getting a nice deal with Nintendo to release his own game. The game was successful, selling more than a million copies and earning the Player’s Choice classification. I am certain this commercial had much to do with those sales.
9. Phil Jackson as a Jedi-like figure (2005)
- Many of you might think this commercial was poking fun at Heat fans for leaving early in game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals where Miami came back to beat the San Antonio Spurs on that memorable Ray Allen 3 pointer but no, it is from 2005 and very funny, even eerily foretelling.
8. Kobe Bryant v. Tim Duncan (1998)
- The commercial is not necessarily funny but it is fun to watch a young Kobe and Tim Duncan in a face down and one on one match up. Also, this commercial aired in 1998 when Kobe was in his 2nd season and Duncan in his rookie year. Little did we know at the time of watching this commercial that both of these two players would go on to dominate the NBA and win 10 of the next 15 NBA championships.
7. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for Atari (1981)
- The best part of the commercial is Kareem’s line of “Ah man, what a move” after moving his stick figure on the screen doing what I believe was supposed to be some type of crossover move and pull up shot. Wow, we’ve come a long way in terms of video game technology.
6. Mychal Thompson, A.C. Green and Vlade Divic for Schick (1990)
- What makes this commercial awesome:Thompson’s horrible sweater, A.C. Green’s flattop and Divac’s English that doesn’t seem to have gotten any better after 1990.
5. Wilt Chamberlain Basketball Game (1973)
- Just when you thought you couldn’t get any more low tech than what Kareem was peddling with Atari we bring you Wilt and his spring, pulley and lever operated basketball game. This game looks so boring that playing outside and socializing with other kids might have been the best means of entertainment at that time. Poor kids.
4. Kareem’s can sing too. Nestle Crunch (1983)
- Kareem was known as being mild mannered, aloof and not showing much personality off the court but on the screen, he was golden. He belted out his line in the chorus of this Crunch commercial like a champ.
3. Magic Johnson fires things up for KFC (1991)
- A fire breathing Magic Johnson. Nothing else needs to be said.
2. Chick Hearn and the 2000 Lakers say Wasssup! (2000)
- The Lakers TV broadcast station at the time, KCAL, and the early 2000 Lakers made a masterful parody of the very popular Budweiser “Wassup” commercials that ran from 1999 to 2002. Okay, maybe not masterful but the late great Chick Hearn does steal the show.
1. Rookie Kobe Bryant gets some PR training (1996)
- Absolutely hilarious commercial for ESPN Sportscenter which are some of the funniest in TV commercial history. The commercial includes an 18 year old, rookie Kobe Bryant and 24 year old Keyshawn Johnson. I think both players really did take a lot of what they learned in this training and put it into action over their careers.