A lot of us really enjoyed the NBA Slam Dunk Contest last weekend, which brought back a little luster to an informal, if hotly debated demonstration of the sport's signature play. Well, the climax of the contest wasn't a contest at all, nor a schoolyard top-this played out on a grand stage. No, we were all watching the filming of a car commercial.
The initial instinct is to get a little angry when it becomes so obvious that the fix was in. Griffin's car dunk was known to the Twitter masses beforehand, so it wasn't spur of the moment. But for those of us who'd like to believe that the best dunkers would actually be rewarded, rather than just Blake Griffin and the most deserving runner-up, this ad's existence is a kick in the teeth. Of course Griffin was going to move to the finals, because they had a car commercial to make. Wonder how they would have justified a 48 score if he hadn't completed one of his dunks within the 90-second time limit.
But then I remember that I'm bitching about product placement and corporate synergy at, of all places, NBA All-Star Weekend. This isn't Pep Boys Presents Midnight Mass at Saint Peter's Basilica, brought to you by Barilla Pasta. It's a half-assed three-hour block of primetime programming, created just to sell weekend All-Star packages and squeeze in more commercials, and the centerpiece of the weekend is an exhibition game anyway. Hell, the dunk contest is already sponsored by Sprite, and went down at the Staples Center. Most pearl-clutching over product placement is misplaced and futile anyway; with our weakened and waning levels of outrage, we can't muster up too much over a midsize sedan. No matter how average it may or may not be.