Corporate Fail: Sprint Doesn’t Understand Basketball Terminology


I’m not expecting a helluva lot from a cell phone commercial. But since we’re going to be seeing this Kevin Durant spot for the next six weeks, it deserves a little bit of criticism. Go ahead and watch the ad again before we get started.

A number of things are bothering me here.   

1. Durant starts off with “Man, I was double-teamed, no one to pass it to….” This should sound a little strange to most basketball fans. By definition, if you’re double-teamed, there must be someone open and therefore someone to pass it to. Granted, maybe I’m being a little hard here. There are plenty of times where a double-team trap can pin a player back and make a pass almost impossible. But those situations typically happen in the defensive end, often as the result of a full-court press. It’s also much more common in college hoops rather than the NBA. Since more serious issues await, let’s just let this one slide.

2. My real issues with this ad involve the cut scenes of game play: they don’t match what Durant is saying. Kind of a problem. He’s clearly not being double-teamed when we first see him on the court — he looks like he’s about to run an isolation play if anything.

3. It gets worse. “No one to pass it to,” Durant says next.  Cut to Durant making a move at the three-point line… while in the foreground a very obviously open Nazr Mohammed waits for a pass that doesn’t come. Maybe Durant means there was no one realistic to pass to. It is crunch time, after all.

4. To conclude the dissonance, Durant tells us that he “pulled up, and hit the shot for the win.” Actually, he drives to the baseline for a running push shot. “Pulling up” implies creating space with one’s defender by feinting forward, stopping suddenly, and getting off a jump shot (see Bryant, Kobe).

So, to summarize: no double team, open man waiting on a pass, no pull up shot. Is this splitting hairs? I don’t think so. Words mean things, and here they don’t mean what we see. I’m reminded of the witless Dave O’Brien calling a standard Beckham-bent free kick goal an “absolute screamer.”

I realize that the ad agency probably wasn’t too concerned about matching the actual footage with what Durant is saying. They probably assigned the task of finding semi-appropriate clips to an intern or office drone (likely one with questionable basketball IQ). But come on. God knows how much the NBA charged for the rights, and given that hardcore fans will be seeing the ad over and over, is it too much to ask for some internal consistency here? Bad on you, Sprint.


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One Response to “Corporate Fail: Sprint Doesn’t Understand Basketball Terminology”

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