The 35 greatest sports commercials of all time – USA TODAY
It feels like we’re in the golden age of sports commercials, doesn’t it?
Seemingly every week, brands and ad-makers find a way to use big names to hawk their products while catching eyeballs with biting, topical humor or incredible Hollywood-film-like scenes.
So it’s about time we ranked the best commercials involving athlete in history – feel free to reach out and tell us what we missed.
35. Rory vs. Tiger
A fun game of “can you top this?”
34. Tecmo Bo
An instant classic when it debuted earlier this year.
Larry Johnson played his own grandmother for Converse and it was delightful.
32. Stanley Cup handshakes
31. Discount Double Check
You might find the ads on the annoying side, but State Farm was smart – you can’t see Rodgers’ championship belt celebration and not call it a “discount doublecheck.”
30. LeBron and Kobe puppets
Technically, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant aren’t in it. But their hilarious puppet likenesses are.
29. Nicklas Backstrom has a splinter
Simple and effective.
28. Tom Brady and Uggs
A great campaign: Focusing on Brady and what he’s doing while he’s suspended in 2016.
27. Thank You, Mom
C’mon, you cried. Admit it.
26. Coors Light press conferences
These always got a chuckle.
25. The Cage
Remember when I said Hollywood? Here you go.
We could do an entire list of This is SportsCenter commercials (which we might!) but this one is so good, it deserves to be on here.
23. Gheorghe Muresan cologne
“You want to smell like me?”
22. Tiger’s back
Kind of summed it all up for every non-Tiger golfer, didn’t it?
21. Any of the San Antonio Spurs HEB commercials
Whoever’s writing these deserves an award.
20. Michael Jordan vs. Michael Jordan
We know, it’s computers, but still: SO COOL.
19. Write the future
Less of a commercial, more like art.
18. Kobe conducts the haters
Bonus points for Paul Pierce and Phil Jackson singing.
17. Joga Bonito
Before the 2006 World Cup, these ads were all the rage. This one – featuring Brazil’s national team – is close to perfect.
16. Terry Tate, Office Linebacker
It counts! “Terry Tate” is played by Lester Speight, who played linebacker at Morgan State.
15. I am not a role model
They should use this at business schools.
Hey, there’s Jason Alexander! But the best thing is Yogi spouting Yogi-isms.
13. Bo knows
Also gets bonus points for being referenced by Tribe Called Quest in Scenario.
12. “All nude”
Hysterical and a little ironic, given that ESPN The Magazine later put out “The Body Issue.”
11. “Cut that meat!”
Peyton Manning can sell anything.
10. Arnold Palmer drinks an Arnold Palmer
Another winning This is SportsCenter spot.
9. I Feel Pretty
Like a big Broadway production with a great payoff.
8. Dan and Dave
Any kid growing up in the 1990s will tell you these commercials starring decathletes Dan O’Brien and Dave Johnson were everywhere before the 1992 Olympic Games. But it might have been a lesson to ad-makers: O’Brien failed to make it to Barcelona.
7. Tiger Woods juggles
The commercial is one of the greatest, and the story behind it is even better.
6. “Chicks Dig the Longball”
Kind of a relic of another era, isn’t it?
5. Mean Joe Greene
Arguably the most famous pre-Michael Jordan athlete commercial and with good reason.
4. Mars Blackmon
“It’s gotta be the shoes!” is a catchphrase that will never die.
3. Lil’ Penny
Chris Rock = MVP.
2. Larry vs. Michael
Yeah, it’s a commercial, but it captures the competitive spirit of two legends beautifully.
1. Be Like Mike
Why is it No. 1? Take Jordan, add a catchy jingle and an easy concept – we all wanna be like Mike – and there you have it.
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