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Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Still on the Set

First of all, as I mentioned earlier, one of my missions for my day on the set of these commercials promoting the NBA on ESPN was to hit the craft services table.

Mission accomplished. I have been hitting that thing hard -- right down to the free espresso. I'm unlikely to sleep at all tonight.

I had an interesting conversation with Hubie Brown, who's in some of these commercials.

We talked about Shawn Marion's trade demands and stuff. But I'm a Blazer fan, so I also asked him if he could think of any young players in NBA history who have been through anything like what Greg Oden is facing, and Brown told the tale of Patrick Ewing.

Ewing's rookie year he started out scoring like crazy (although his rebounding was underwhelming) and then right around the All-Star break he tore his ACL. "At that point," recalls Brown, "if you look at the history, guys who tore their ACL came back to perform at about 50% of what their athleticism and talent would have dictated. But Dr. Scott, the Knicks' doctor, had just perfected the surgery, and he had done it on Bernard King."

So, there you go, Greg, something to think about. At one point they thought Patrick Ewing was a good bet to be cooked. He did all right for himself. 

Another example, of course, is Bill Walton before he became the star we know. "No one ever talks about that," says Brown. "He missed about 80 games over those two seasons before Jack Ramsay took over." The Blazers then were pretty miserable. The rare times in his career that Walton played a lot of games, and was healthy in the playoffs, he practically always won titles -- one in Portland, and another in Boston nearly a decade later.

Now, as to the TV commercials -- they're good. Understated. Funny. Hats off to the creative people at Wieden + Kennedy. Sure, I'm probably biased because seeing it happen live, you can't help but root for it. But I'm pretty sure the one with the three Celtics and Jeff Van Gundy will be remembered. And the one they're shooting now, with Chris Bosh busting on Mike Breen, that's really cool too.

We get to watch the shooting live, on TV monitors, listening to headphones. On the headphones, it's especially clear that Bosh has a good, deep, resonant voice. If you ever need an NBA player to sing bass in your barbershop quartet, you'd want to call Chris Bosh first.