Former Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and current Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James have both had their fair share of iconic Nike advertisements over the courses of their careers, but the ones featuring the two as MVPuppets are up their with the best.
Debuting in 2008-09 season as the two legends appeared to be on a collision course for the NBA Finals, the ad campaign featured puppet versions of James and Bryant (voiced by Keenan Thompson and David Alan Grier, respectively) who lived together and hung out all the time.
It led to moments where Kobe trash-talks LeBron over his lack of rings, and LeBron annoying Kobe by tossing chalk all over their house. The commercials were a lighthearted way of juicing up a battle royale that never occurred.
Nike has brought them back sporadically in the years since, with the latest iteration debuting for Bryant’s jersey retirement, and featuring Bryant explain to James what retired jerseys do as the latter tries to leave for a game.
There were also two more videos in which Bryant mock-complains to James about the burdens of having two jerseys retired.
The Lakers got in on the fun too, with MVPuppets of both No. 8 and No. 24 attending Monday night’s game, via the team’s Twitter account:
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 18, 2017
With Bryant now retired, it’s fair to wonder whether the puppets will ever get dusted off again, and for what? His Hall-of-Fame induction? James coming to the Lakers?
There is no way to know, so if this is goodbye, it’s a fond one to one of the more fun ad campaigns to interrupt our NBA games in a world with far too many obnoxious ones (looking at you, “The Anderson’s got tickets to the game?”).
It’s also just good to have the MVPuppets back because Bryant and James puppet avatars constantly trolling each other is both the closest we’ll ever get to seeing the two face off in their primes.
It’s also a microcosm of the hypothetical way fans of both players have to debate which was better because the two never got to face off in games that truly mattered. So long (maybe?), MVPuppets.
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