It’s rare that anybody chooses to watch a three-minute commercial over and over, but for the past couple of months, I’ve been infatuated by the series of spots for Beats By Dre headphones.
First and foremost, the Elton John-influenced “The Man” by California native Aloe Blacc is at once infectious and inspirational, a story that mirrors Blacc’s initial encounter with rapper Dr. Dre, who wasn’t impressed with the singer’s songs. Blacc went back to the drawing board, took Dre’s words to heart and came up with one of the best songs of the past few months.
(Side note: Blacc did credit John as a writer on the tune.)
Music producer Jimmy Iovine helped turn the song into the soundtrack for the best commercial campaign of the new year thus far.
Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Garnett was first featured, the words and criticisms of Oklahoma City native Skip Bayless rolling through his brain. The future Hall of Famer popped on the Beats and — bam — he was “hearing what he wants.” Garnett was a terrific choice for the campaign given that he’s a bit older and giving it at least one more go on a new team.
Then it was San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick, who started his career out of the University of Nevada as a backup to Alex Smith. It wasn’t long before Kaepernick established himself as “The Man,” taking the 49ers to the Super Bowl last year and coming within one pass of taking them again this season.
Alas, the reason San Francisco isn’t headed to New Jersey is because of Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, whose outburst on live television has netted him more TV time the past couple of days than the president. It should come as no surprise to marketing cynics, perhaps, that a “The Man” spot was ready-and-waiting for him, too.
And that got me to thinking.
Surely, the Beats By Dre crew will be shooting more spots in time for the NBA Playoffs. Who among the Thunder might make a perfect candidate for an appearance in one of these spots?
Let’s consider the obvious.
Kevin Durant. This is a no-brainer because, well, he IS the man. However, he’s kind of always been the man, and we don’t really need to “tell everybody” as the song suggests.
We know. He is.
In the past seven games, Durant has scored 36, 46, 30, 54, 36, 37 and 33, and the NBA’s MVP trophy may very well be his to lose this season. However, he’s already on top of the world.
Russell Westbrook. The Thunder guard has already missed time twice this season, months after missing all but a tiny bit of the 2013 NBA Playoffs. His energy powers this team, and Westbrook embodies that me-against-the-world sentiment the song projects.
No. 0 would be a terrific candidate for a Beats By Dre spot.
However, here are a few not-so-obvious candidates for a place in this series of commercials.
Derek Fisher. Father Time hasn’t gotten the best of the Thunder guard yet, and he remains a vital bench booster for the squad. He’s averaged 20.8 minutes per game this month alone.
And he’s got five championship rings, tied with Kobe Bryant for most among active NBA players. Perhaps Fisher has always been “The Man.”
Reggie Jackson. Drafted out of Boston College three years ago, Jackson wasn’t expected by most fans to make the impact he has. His improvement from Year 1 to 2 was significant, and he made the most of his opportunity when the Thunder needed him most, right after Westbrook got hurt against Houston in the playoffs last season.
Jackson’s a young buck coming into his own, and a few great performances in the playoffs this season could mark his ascension to “The Man.”
But I’d submit that nobody on the Oklahoma City Thunder fits the spirit of this spot more than Kendrick Perkins.
The gruff center brings physicality to the court and a tough-mindedness that also served him well in Boston. That tough-mindedness probably allowed him to ignore criticism he faced from basketball fans during the 2013 playoffs when he finished with the worst player efficiency rating (PER) ever on record (-0.7) for somebody with at least 200 minutes.
Yet the spirit of Blacc’s song is about facing adversity, tuning out those doubters and making something of it.
Stand up now and face the sun
Won’t hide my tail or turn and run
It’s time to do what must be done
And be a king when kingdom comes
You have to think, should the Thunder make another Finals run, Kendrick Perkins would be that guy night in and night out doin’ work — and poppin’ on those Beats to “hear what he wants.”