That new Magic-and-Larry promo for the Lakers-Celtics Finals got me thinking about some of the great Magic Johnson commercials from the 80s and early 90s. Those ads did more than just brainwash us into mindless consumerism; they taught us things, too. Like the fact that spicy chicken can give you superpowers and diet soft drinks are best enjoyed while wearing a tuxedo.

The commercial Magic teaches some white kid how to hit a reverse layup and then does a magic trick.

The lesson: That it's possible, even for America's goofy white youth, to learn Magic Johnson's signature moves on the first try. Also, that all it takes is a towel and Magic's crotch to transform a basketball into a bottle of 7-up.

Update! Basketbawful reader Five Pound Bag has informed me that the goofy blond dude in Magic's 7-up commercial was actually Ann Meyers, one of the most notorious serial killers of...wait, sorry, that was Michael Meyers. Ann Meyers was one of the greatest female basketball players of all time. She was so good that she actually signed a contract with the Indiana Pacers in 1980 (seriously). So, you know, my bad. But you have to admit, she was very mannish in that video.

The commercial: Magic Johnson hangs out with some kids and tells them: "Don't foul out, say no to drugs."

The lesson: That -- with apologies to Josh Howard -- drugs are bad. Very, very bad. However, the subtext is that having promiscuous sex with many anonymous partners without protection isn't just okay, it's freaking awesome. (Right up until you contract a deadly STD, anyway.)

The commercial: Several people, including Magic Johnson, drink Diet Pepsi in what one presumes is their "natural environment."

The lesson: That anybody -- regardless of race, creed, or social standing -- can enjoy the cool, refreshing, calorie-free deliciousness of Diet Pepsi. Even if it does taste like ice-cold ass. Also, that Magic's "natural environment" is suspended from a backboard while wearing a tuxedo.

The commercial: Magic plays some pickup ball before rehydrating with some Slice.

The lesson: That Gatorade is for sissies (or it was in 1990). Nothing restores complex carbohydrates and electrolytes quite like a can of vaguely orange-flavored soda. Also, Magic isn't above using his basketball powers in petty, frivolous ways to amaze young children who barely recognize him.

The commercial: Magic Johnson selfishly eats an entire bucket of chicken at a pickup game. Then breaths fire.

The lesson: That running into Magic Johnson at a dreary, local gym is less exciting than the prospect of sharing greasy, deep-fried chunks of slaughtered farm animals with him. Additionally, pyrotechnics are the best way to get people to back the hell off when you're eating. Oh, and (as karma pointed out) black men like to play basketball and eat fried chicken...who knew?

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Blogger acnefighter said...
Hahhahaa....that actually made me laugh out loud. My favourite commercial would probably have to be the KFC fried chicken one. On top of overacting by the his sidekick actors, there's nothing funnier than the stereotypical nature involved in having a black man eat fried chicken AND play basketall at the same time. All of these commercials make me glad I didn't grow up in the 80's. Well....the 90's and early 00's were pretty bad too, but a little less cheesier than this for sure.

Since I'm a Kobe Bryant fan, two specific commercials stand out for me. One is the Mcdonald's commercial (, which would probably NEVER be tried at this point because Kobe's somehow turned into someone you can't cater to kids with.

Secondly, I used to love this commercial as a kid, simply because Kobe was in it, but looking back (and after actually purchasing the ball), I realized not only that the ad sucked, but also that the ball was a horrible waste of money. The Inufusion basketball completely effs up after a while; don't buy it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
i dont think that's some goofy white kid. at the end of the 7up commercial isnt that nancy lieberman?

Blogger Five Pound Bag said...
In the 7-Up commercial, that's not some "goofy youth", that's Ann Meyers, one of the best womens' basketball players of all time.

She was on the womens' national team while still in high school, was the first woman to get a full ride hoops scholarship, and now serves as GM of the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and VP of the Suns.

She's arguably as good a women's player as Magic was a men's. But I can see where the haircut threw you off.

Blogger acnefighter said...
lol at one of the greatest women basketball players being a "goofy white kid". I didn't know who she was either, but seeing the video made me realize that that indeed was a woman and not some dorky white kid like I thought it'd be.

Blogger geremy said...
"The lesson: That -- with apologies to Josh Howard -- drugs are bad. Very, very bad. However, the subtext is that having promiscuous sex with many anonymous partners without protection isn't just okay, it's freaking awesome. (Right up until you contract a deadly STD, anyway.)"~basketbawful

"deadly", really??? i'm betting chuck's lifestyle catches up with him before magic's does. he's one of the HEALTHIEST retired guys i've seen!

maybe it's just me though.