On the surface, James Harden's new Foot Locker commercial with Steph Curry is just that -- 30 seconds of frivolity designed to compel kids (and their parents) to go to Foot Locker and buy shoes, jerseys and whatever else they sell at Foot Locker.
In case you haven't seen it yet (Jeff Balke had it yesterday here on "Hair Balls"), here it is one more time:
Pretty funny stuff. Makes me want to buy stuff for my kids at Foot Locker, which as I mentioned is really the goal.
But digging a little bit deeper, I think this spot is a microcosm of two trends in the NBA, one hitting very close to home and the other a bit more global:
1. The Rockets have been arguably the most newsworthy team this off-season in the NBA, and their relevance is manifesting itself in a number of ways: prominent placement on the NBA's schedule, heightened interest in Dwight Howard's Instagram account, and commercials! If Dwight's persona undergoes the facelift that we think it can on a successful Rockets team, the Rockets have three of the dozen or so most marketable players in the league (Harden, Howard and Jeremy Lin...Asian markets, yo!).
2. Here you have a prominent athletics retailer featuring the two guard for the Houston Rockets and the point guard for the Golden State Warriors. It's not like we're talking about Sacramento and Milwaukee, but it is a small supporter of my argument that the notion that stars "have to play in a big market" is dying in the NBA, thanks to satellite television and the Internet. To wit, Oklahoma City will be on national television 30 times this season. If you're a good player in 2013, television and sponsors will find you. The need for players to go find them has been significantly diminished.
So the ad itself feels good, but thanks to YouTube, we now get extras! As great as the spot itself is, behold the FULL version of the "James Harden Song" in all of its cacophonic glory:
Point of full disclosure: I actually got the video of the full song sent to me before the video of the Foot Locker ad, so I was ready to destroy this thing Zapruder style, with a thousand different lines about cats squealing outside Dumpsters, homeless people being stabbed in the pancreas, and whatever other sources you can think of that generate the sounds emanating from James Harden's mouth.
But what appeared on the surface to possibly be a joke was confirmed to be just that in the Foot Locker ad, so all I'll say about James Harden is "Kudos, Beard, to your smooth flow, a style I would respectfully categorize as a combination of Barry White and Dirk Diggler..."
However, until there's a video of you serenading an 89-year-old woman in a wheelchair with your shirt actually open, you're still a close second behind Dwight's Instagram account.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.