10 Classic Commercials From the NBA’s Golden Era

The NBA in the late 1980s and early 90s was all about short shorts, dunk contests, legendary talent and unprotected sexual relations. Corporate America certainly took notice of the league’s growth in popularity, as it cast many of basketball’s marquee names and ‘upstanding’ citizens  as spokesmen for well-known brands. As always, there’s bound to be a certain level of hilarity when you combine pre-internet graphics, golden era NBA all-stars, cue cards, and the commercialization of unnecessary consumer products. Let’s examine further.

Scottie Pippen Wants to Put Mr. Submarine in Your Mouth

In this ad from 1991, Pippen enlists two Bulls cheerleaders to assist with his (six) foot long. “Let’s have a party,” he exclaims, as the ladies rush to his side to stuff their faces with large amounts of cured meat. The slightly out-of-sync sound coupled with the phallic implications of Luvabulls swarming Pip’s giant sub should brighten your day. We can’t confirm that Scottie drove the girls home after this shoot, but we wouldn’t be surprised.

Dominique Wilkins Gives Big-Ups to Minute Maid Orange

Most people get really dehydrated from orange soda, but apparently The Human Highlight Film used to pound it after executing one of his patented windmill dunks. For all you kids out there, drinking out of a full two-liter pop bottle isn’t recommended—just look at the shit grin plastered on Nique’s face after painfully chugging the sugary beverage for a few seconds.

The Physics of Reebok Pumps

Dominique returns, along with Danny Ainge, Byron Scott and Glenn “Doc” Rivers to promote Reebok’s Pump series, which allow you to tighten your shoes around the ankles via a pumping device. Does anyone understand why an NBA player would want a pair of sneaks that didn’t already fit properly?  There’s very little logic here, especially when Scott details his fear that somebody could come up from behind him and let the air out by pressing the release button. In any event, look out for obligatory and head-scratching cameos from Pat Riley and Digger Phelps.

Shaq Terrorizes Innocent Children While Looking For Pepsi

A young Shaquille O’Neal is a playground bully with no regard for the welfare of children as he oafishly stampedes onto a neighborhood basketball court in search of a Pepsi. Guess what Shaq—these kids no longer had a place to hoop once you tore down their basket, an event which probably shattered their hopes and dreams of one day playing in The Association. Looking back on it now, we’re happy this ended with The Big Fella empty-handed.

MJ Low on Cash, Buys Discount Bananas

“It’s not how much you make, it’s how much you save,” says a ridiculously young Michael Jordan as he walks through a Food Lion grocery store wearing a bright red coca-cola t-shirt. He also grabs some ripe bananas and shoots a head of lettuce in the general vicinity of the cash registers, where it eventually lands in his well-packed grocery bag.

All-Stars show off their Converse Weapons and Mad Flow

Kudos to the ad wizards who convinced a pair of white future Hall of Famers to rap in a commercial. There are two more amazing things about this spot. First, the fact that Mark Aguirre was included.  And also, how did a slow footed, no hops, curly haired guy from French Lick, Indiana win even one MVP award? Still befuddling to this day.

Magic Johnson Burns For KFC’s Spicy Chicken

Mmm, Magic brought the spicy fried chicken to the YMCA gym again. He eventually starts eating out of the bucket until blowing a fire ball that banks in from way downtown. We’re guessing he experienced burning in other areas a few years later.

MJ Reminds Big Game James to Eat Wheaties

No. 23 runs into his old North Carolina teammate James Worthy in what appears to be an abandoned warehouse of some sort.  There are subsequent shots of Grape Nuts, Special K and Corn Flakes boxes being slammed into lockers for lacking the proper amount of whole grain. We’d be skeptical of eating all that bran before hitting the lay-up line.

Charles Barkley Smells Good on Horseback

Sir Charles, at the time one of the league’s most notorious troublemakers, rides a horse in a ‘civilized society’ and promotes underarm hygiene. It’s hard to understand what he’s saying at the beginning, but do the words actually matter? Anyway, off to the foxes.

Shawn Kemp Wears Reebok, Plays Robot

At one point the Rain Man attempts a flat-footed dunk from close to the free-throw line, only to be embarrassingly rejected by the robot. You’ll get a headache halfway through this, primarily because of the constant movement and the utter absurdity. Enjoy.

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