by Chris Huston
The first round of the 2014 NBA playoffs has begun, which means the league's superstars are being featured not only on the court, but off of it as well. Basketball fans will have to make a special effort to avoid the steady stream of commercials or print ads featuring LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard over the next several weeks.
For the most part, NBA players are prone to churning out standard advertising fare -- a Nike commercial here, a McDonald's billboard there. But some NBA stars have taken more unconventional routes when it comes to brand affiliation.
Here are five recent NBA endorsement deals that break the mold:
It's rare that a professional athlete exudes the kind of natural comedic chops Los Angeles Clipper Blake Griffin has in his endorsement career. His campaign for video game rental service GameFly builds upon the tone of his more famous Kia series, but is a bit more daring in its approach. Slip a 6-foot-10 power forward into a jet pack? No problem. Griffin still looks uber confident making his pitch. Brands looking to push the envelope with their athletes should use this piece as inspiration.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez/McLoughlin Auto Mall
Chandler Parsons/Buffalo Jeans
Tony Parker/Tissot Watches
San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker joined the Tissot ambassador team in 2010. Since then, the watchmaker has attached his name to several of their brands. Parker's international flair (he's the captain of the French national basketball team) and his Hollywood connection (he was once married to actress Eva Longoria) makes his association with the luxury brand seem natural.
Scribble Content Tip: Using a news event as a hook is an effective way to make brand content more compelling. In this case, the NBA playoffs provide a thematic bridge to the five marketing stories told above. Just be sure to do the research to back up your narrative. Also, link back to sources to give readers context so they can dig deeper into the subject matter if they want.