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The best and worst in Spurs player endorsements: Part 2

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Indubitably, there's no group of guys quite like our Spurs. On the court, they're champions. Masters of their craft. Off the court, they've produced some equally unforgettable moments, in the form of hilarious -- and slightly questionable --commercials.

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If you missed Part 1, you can catch up here.

Salesmanship, sex appeal, and swag are terms that have seldom been associated with the San Antonio Spurs, and the feeling has, for the most part, been reciprocated. A San Antonio player's image is nothing when weighed against the needs of the organization; from the manner in which issues are handled in-house to the roles that define the players on the court, 'the Spurs way' doesn't lend itself well to individual branding, and the guys the front office has pursued over the years have often fit that mold perfectly.

Even now, as the team hits a Betty-White-esque twilight spike in popularity, we're not likely going to see Tim Duncan behind the wheels of a Kia Sorrento or Tony Parker racing along the streets of San Antonio followed by a swarm of adoring fans.

It's not that Spurs players are too good for endorsing products, that San Antonio is too small a market, or that they don't resonate enough with men ages 18-49; it's just that the relationship between the team and mainstream media has been, by design, too tangential to furnish the kind of promotion that could have existed for such a successful organization.

In some ways, the dynamic may have allowed the Spurs' subculture to grow. Players have stayed on for longer stretches than with many other teams, fans have grown to love both them and the coaching staff, and -- through categories that include honesty, loyalty and community relations -- the organization recently found itself atop the rankings for best sports franchise.

Luckily for us, there have still been some commercials tossed in there -- not just for the laughs (both intentional and unintentional), but for allowing us to see a different side to our favorite players. Today is the second half of my curating of these ads. Last time I looked at the ones the Spurs' supporting cast has produced. Now, we're looking at the Big Four -- plus Tiago.

San Antonians (and many loyal Pounders) will be familiar with the annual flurry of Spurs-centered H-E-B commercials, which have primarily chronicled the quirky interactions between Tony, Tim and Manu. With the 2014-15 season around the corner, we'll soon be treated to more of these spots, which have only gotten better over time.

Last year, soon-to-be Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard was brought into the mix, heralding the off-the-court passing of the torch to the team's next franchise player:

Sure, the guys won't be performing King Lear at the Majestic any time soon (although I'd definitely pay to see that), but the H-E-B commercials on the whole represent the better side of what local ads can end up like. The ideas are goofy, the skits are brief, and the players seem to just have a great time making them.

The following ads don't quite achieve the same result.

Tiago Splitter

Poor Tiago. Before going any further, I'd like to express my sincere appreciation for him as an elite defender and key piece for the future. He was well worth the big contract last year and doesn't deserve the cheap shots he receives from personalities like Stephen A. Smith.

Unfortunately for us, Tiago now has $36 million reasons to not do more hilarious commercials like these for Northside Ford, alongside former Spur Gary Neal.


Manu Ginobili

Like Tiago, Manu's a fellow South American who had to bridge his own English difficulties at one point. Now, look at him! He's pretty much the team's Matthew McConnaughey. Finally seen as more than just an accent and cheek bones, Manu is versatile enough to handle action, comedy or drama. Just check out his composure during the following shot, finishing the scene as if it were a two-on-one fast break.

The beauty of having so many international players, beyond their unique blend of skills and team-first mentality, is finding the ads that were never intended for American audiences. I'm not sure how they got David Lynch to direct the following Gatorade commercial, or how they taught Chris Andersen Spanish, but the results speak for themselves. No subtitles required.

What's to like about Manu as a spokesperson is what comes through in most of his ads: a sort of quirky cool that's self-effacing but confident. Ads like this for Christus Santa Rosa are what have made him arguably the most likable of the Big Three.


Tony Parker

Admittedly, Jungle Town was already covered last year, but it bears revisiting. Significant time and effort were put into this spot. And money. At least $500, I'd say.

I'm not sure if Jungle Town is more a state of mind than a real place, or where I can pick up my copy of SoBasket magazine,  but I do still have that ridiculously commercialized song stuck in my head.

Tim Duncan

The GOATPUFF may have sullied his relationship with NBA sponsor Gatorade with this classic moment, but he's in general too big a name to not at least garner a few looks from companies over the years. Here's an early one for Edge he did with David Robinson. This ad feels way older than 2003, but is still pretty good.


Timmy also did this commercial, where he spends most of the time messing with a Dwight Howard mannequin. Not all too memorable, its lasting impression may be that Duncan took an early liking to punking the Rockets center.

Kawhi Leonard

There's little to put underneath Leonard's name yet, which isn't all that surprising if you've paid attention to the soft-spoken 23-year-old during interviews. He's a member of Jordan Brand and I'm sure his agent's phone has already been ringing. However he's a good ellipsis to end on as we look to the future, and it will be interesting to see how he slowly begins to put himself out there as the spotlight focuses more squarely on him.

Now seen as the next face of the franchise, The Hand might follow a similar career arc (at least in terms of image) as Tim Duncan, who through the years has allowed his personality to permeate more and more. Leonard may not be featured in any comic book covers, but it will be cool to see him come into his own and allow more of his personality to show.

The Finals MVP did a bit of the media rounds this summer, and even played around with Rob Dyrdek. It's obvious that Dyrdek is wearing novelty giant hands. Leonard, less so.