Instead, we feel like taking a pleasant stroll down memory lane. There are countless “best sports commercial” lists out there. We’re not trying to compete with them, nor are we claiming these next 15 are the cream of the sports ad crop. These spots caused us to laugh “back then,” and still do now.
Here are a few I recall fondly from the past 20 years or so. Perhaps you do too. We didn’t take the time to rank them, as they’re each so good in their own special ways.
The Mackenzie Brothers for Molson: It’s kind of anti-climatic to start a video-based post sans video, but I can’t seem to find this commercial anywhere. Anyone out there in cyberland who can scrounge it up for us, perhaps we’ll give you something. For those of us old enough to recall, the Mackenzie Brothers were Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis. If you don’t know, you better ask somebody. Yes, the “Honey I Shrunk the Kids Guy” was a hilarious beer-drinking caricature of a a Canadian. The classic Mackenzie Bros. commercial for Molson featured Hall-of-Famer Guy LaFleur. The Flower. “But a tough flower, right? Like a snapdragon…roses have thorns. They’re tough. You’re tough…”
Someone please find the commercial. Now.
Lil’ Penny: The brilliance was from a little wooden puppet-type thing fashioned after NBA superstar Penny Hardaway (read that line again). Here’s one of my personal favorites from a vast archive. It may not be the straight up “funniest,” but say Tyra and Lil’ Penny to any 30-something sports nut, and they undoubtedly will pull this one up from the mental archives.
OK, we can’t just have one. Lil’ Penny was a money character. Here’s my all-time favorite. Tell Kevin Garnett that “Lil’ Penny from the science club say’s HELL-O. Can you do that for a brother?” Priceless. Chris Rock, well-played, sir.
Marbury & KG, “All Nude”: Speaking of KG, we tried to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of this phenomenal ESPN the Magazine spot earlier this year and nobody paid any attention. It’s OK. We’re not offended. Bask in its beauty now. Or don’t. And, of course, take note of Starbury’s tremendously-stoned state. How could we not have seen this coming?
Bad Things, Man: For all you young whipper-snappers, Dennis Hopper is an actor. He was pretty big. He also did commercials – before Ameriprise. Those commercials were for Nike in the ’90s. Hopper wasa slightly obsessive referee dreamed up by the folks at Wieden & Kennedy. One of the most vivid recollections I have of this campaign was Hopper experiencing a moment of fear as he cradles the shoe of Bruce Smith in his hand. Bad things, man. Baaad things.
No Play for Mr. Gray!: I can’t seem to get my hands on the original which is by far the best. But the marketing gurus over at Just for Men teamed Walt Frazier and Keith Hernandez together, and the rest is history. In the first spot, Keith is providing the play-by-play as a man with some gray headsup to a “hottie” at a bar. She pays him no attention, of course, on account of his gray hair. “REE-jected,” exclaims Frazier. “No play for Mr. Gray!” If you’re at all familiar with Walt’s rhyming antics, you know how immensely entertaining simple phrases he utters can be.
Unfortunately, we only have this new spot to share with you. In it, Walt and Keith visit Emmitt Smith in a nursing home. Pay attention to the dialog. “Your beard is weird.” “Your ‘stache is trash.” Phenomenal stuff.
Coach K Bud Light: This ad aired once in 1994 around NCAA tournament time. It was a parody of the spot below. Just close your eyes and imagine “Krzyzewski” instead of “Galakowitz.” We remember it fondly.
Chicks Dig the Long Ball: This one is even better now than it was then. I’m not sure what I like most…Maddux’s spectacles , Glavine flexing or perhaps the irony of the opening line about McGwire. Heather Locklear?? Great stuff all-around.
It’s Gotta Be the Shoes: Talk about commercial personalities, how ’bout Spike Less as Mars Blackmon? Not laugh out loud funny like a few of these, but amusing nonetheless. Plus, it sparked a catchphrase that made its way around for quite some time.
Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore: The audio is a bit off below, but this is one of my favorite ESPN SportsCenter spots of all-time and somewhat forgotten and under-appreciated. I remember the first time I saw it, watching as Olberman calmly and stoically walked over to Lalas, grabbed the guitar, smashed it to pieces and then just as casually handedhe splintered-apart remains back to Alexi. Awesome.
“That’s a Terrible Name”: We had to find a way to get Will Farrell into this rundown. Luckily, he’s made a few memorable sports-related commercial appearances. This is one ranks first on our list: his ESPN SportsCenter audition that aired as a sort of promo for Anchorman. “This is going to be a financial and cultural disaster…”
Jackie Moon Says Bud Light is Good for the Loins: We’re doubling down on Farrell. I’ve never seen Semi-Pro, and probably won’t unless I have a weak under-the- influence moment. However, this spoof spot for Bud Light made one envision the potential of such a film.
Ain’t Nobody Name Pookie Gettin’ in My Fave Five: I think the Barkley/Wade thing worked. It just did. The ring one is pretty money, but I prefer this “pookie spot.”
YAO: A classic Visa commercial. The Yogi appearance at the conclusion of the ad makes it that much better. Wonder how much Mr. Ming pulled in for saying “Yao” six times? I’d probably rather not know.
SportsCenter “Too Soon”: Sans superstars, ESPN scored me with me on this spot. A cautionary tale of a “rookie” brought up too soon.
Terry Tate, Office Linebacker: Of all the manufactured alter egos who played the main role in a campaign, Terry Tate may have been the best. Check out all three and a half minutes of the clip below. It’s a montage of fabulousness.
Ok, we tried to unscientifically conjure up 15 from our memory bank. Surely, there are countless other gems from the 90s and beyond that combined sport and humor to our collective delight. Hit us up with yours in the comments.
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About the Author: Cecilio's Scribe is the founder of The Legend of Cecilio Guante and a generally pessimistic fan of the Mets, Jets, Knicks and Rangers. A fine NYC-based gentlemen who hones his marketing skills as his primary trade by day. Husband, chef, father of a newborn and after-hours blogger by night. Proud alum of the mighty Big Red of Cornell. University. Hot sauce devotee. Staunch protester of the continued wussifcation of American sports. Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick.