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Nike In Fast-Break Mode With Most Valuable Puppets

May 30, 2009: Nike, apparently playing it safe just in case the anticipated Kobe Bryant and LeBron James NBA Finals match up does not become a reality, this week released three new TV spots in its "Most Valuable Puppets" campaign, via Weiden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore. Nike had been releasing one a week over the past three weeks during the post season. But over the past few days, viewers have seen the odd couple pairing of Muppet-like Kobe and LeBron caricatures playing basketball in their apartment, as co-anchors on ESPN's SportsCenter and as hosts to a young fan whose devotion goes to the extreme. In the SportsCenter takeoff, the two are wearing suits and competing to see who sings the ESPN theme song best ("Da-da-da...da-da-da"). In "Mrs. Lewis," the one-upsmanship that has been the campaign's theme has Kobe telling LeBron, "I have two words for you brother: 81 points," referring to the output the real Kobe had in one game in 2006. LeBron asks Kobe, "You know what 23 is reversed?" in reference to his uniform number. "Triple-double, all the time!" "You think you can get a triple-double on me right now?!" Kobe challenges. "I don't think so." LeBron replies, "Funny, I got a ball right here. What you wanna do?" And they proceed to play ball in the living room with a regulation hoop that happens be there, knocking over furniture, a bowl of popcorn and other objects, stopping only when the phone rings. LeBron answers, and we hear a woman yelling at the other end. "Oh, yes. Absolutely," LeBron answers in what appears to be an apologetic tone. "Yes ma'am." "Who was that?" asks Kobe, expecting to hear a complain about their ball playing. "That was Mrs. Lewis from downstairs," answers LeBron. Then, waiting a moment, LeBron shouts, "She said you ain't got no defense," and the game is on again. In the fifth spot in the series, "Lil Dez," the pair have to babysit Mrs. Lewis' son, a situation that soon turns sour as the kid rambles incessantly. "I can't believe I live downstairs from you guys. Kobe, do you polish your [championship] rings? LeBron, have you ever just sat on anyone's shoulders while you are in the air? How'd you guys pick your numbers? LeBron, you have over 20 triple-doubles. Can I have one? Hey, Kobe. Hey, LeBron. Do you have any new shoes?" At which point they take him into a warehouse size room filed with unopened boxes of Nike shoes, which overwhelms Lil Dez and finally shuts him up. Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers are in the NBA Finals, which begin June 4. James and the Cavaliers could be eliminated by the Orlando Magic on Saturday (May 30); a victory would set up Game 7 on June 1.


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