Monday, August 2, 2010

Mad Men and the NBA

Madison Avenue might* be the mecca of big advertising today (*unless you subscribe to the notion that it migrated to Boulder) but it definitely was during the its heyday subtly chronicled in Mad Men. A lesser known fact is that Madison Avenue is also where The Commish keeps his desk. No, not that Commish -- I'm talking about The Angel of Stern. David Stern and Don Draper both look out over the same stretch of road in New York City.

With the new season of Mad Men just warming up and the NBA off season having just about finished up, I thought we could take a look at some of the other similarities between Mad Men and what has happened with the Association since Game 7.

The Don Draper Corollary

Don Draper is an intriguing character. Half of the time you are rooting for him, hoping for another brilliant 2 minute soliloquy about how a toothbrush is more important than life itself, and the other half of the time you wonder if he has a conscience at all. All his infidelity and deceit makes him loathsome, but somehow as soon as he walks into SterlingCooperDraperPryce in his gray flannel suit, you forget all about his sordid affair the night before. And such is life in the NBA. We forget about off court drama as long as the player performs at a high level on the court. I think we are going to see the same thing with LeBron in Miami.

"You're so old fashioned"

After working again with Freddy Rumsen, Peggy Olsen finds frustration in his ideas and fires at him a simple dig, "You're so old fashioned!" A lot was made right after The Decision about how Jordan wouldn't have done this and Bird wouldn't have done that. And how Kevin Durant was a throwback because he wants to stay on the only team he has ever known. While some players -- Amare, Wade, LeBron, CP3, Bosh -- might want to fire this line at all their detractors, I think it fits better with the message being sent to another group of superstars; those on the way out. Shaq, Iverson and TMaq are stuck in some kind of time warp and remain old fashioned in their thinking. They may have some amount of validity in their thinking, but for the most part the league is collectively telling them that their idea -- the idea of who they are -- isn't going to work anymore.

Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce

What started out as a great idea at the end of the third season has turned into struggle and strife. It was there chance to step out and make something of themselves, become relatively independent and more than anything be in the spotlight. Kind of reminds me of the NBA firm of Boozer Stoudemire Gilbert Wall. Boozer and Amare are in similar situations. They both left point guards who made them better than they actually are, but now they are going to have to earn it on their own. Gilbert is Dan Gilbert. He put some very bright lights on himself and has made some awful big promises. John Wall can no longer hide behind the gel in Coach Cal's hair or the tradition in Lexington. He gets to carry basketball in our nation's capital, and worry about showing up to practice one day only to find a half dozen guns laid out in front of his locker. Needless to say, everyone at this firm is about to realize just how hard their new life is going to be.

American Tobacco

American Tobacco (Lucky Strikes) puts almost all the food on the table at SCDP. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that they are in a delicate situation there. Kind of like the Nuggets and the Hornets and the Heat, Raptors and Cavs of last season. While its great to have a reliable meal ticket, you inevitably get put in the position of worshiping at their feet. It will be intriguing to see if the Hornets and Nuggs follow the lead set by the Raps and Cavs or if they will blaze their own trail and not be held hostage by Melo and CP3.

"I'm sorry sir, is Sam here bothering you? He can be a little chatty."

Back in the very first episode of the first season, Don strikes up a conversation with an african american employee at a bar. He is trying to find an angle on selling cigarettes when another employee, possibly the boss, comes over and interrupts. Don responds by saying, "We're actually just having a conversation, is that okay?" I hope that as the players association and the league try to figure out a new agreement, that it is okay to be a little chatty, to have some conversations. I don't want a lockout, and I don't think you do either.

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