November 22, 2013
Cleveland's star point guard opens up about Tyson, Rodman, Favre and more.
Unless you’ve been stuck under a rock for the last 24 hours, you’ve probably seen the instantly-viral new ad for Foot Locker's "Week of Greatness" starring Kyrie Irving and a collection of the most iconic and psychotic legends in recent sports history. There's Mike Tyson visiting Evander Holyfield to return his ear (here's hoping it didn't pass through Iron Mike's digestive tract), Brett Favre finally showing some restraint, NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager torching his wardrobe, and Dennis Rodman making all our wishes come true. But kicking it all off is the Cleveland Cavalier's transcendent point guard, who gave us a bit of his time to talk about the ad, his equally awesome Uncle Drew Campaign, and the season so far.
In just a couple years you've racked up some of the most memorable commercials in ages, but this cast of characters is just ridiculous.
I think everybody is going to love it. It’s such a creative commercial. I’m looking forward to seeing the reactions from everybody.
Were you surprised that guys like Tyson, Rodman, and Favre were able to poke fun at themselves?
Yeah. It was surprising, but I’m really glad it happened. Everybody got out of their comfort zone. I’m looking forward to it.
Have you had any interactions with any of them?
No. I wish. Hopefully I can meet all of them soon. I can’t wait to actually see the commercial on TV. But nobody is going to be laughing at them. We are going to be laughing together.
Laughing at Mike Tyson is probably a bad idea anyway. Craig Sager – not so much.
We all have our own tastes. That’s all I’m going to say on it!
With Pepsi’s "Uncle Drew" campaign, you seem to have embraced this medium creatively. Is this something you knew you wanted to do?
No, not at all. It's something that kind of just came up. I took acting classes while I was at Duke, but I didn’t really take it seriously. Every time I get in front of the camera I’m just being myself, giving everyone a piece of my personality. It helps with the ability to connect with fans off the court.
Did you have ad campaigns that you appreciated, when growing up?
I enjoyed all the basketball commercials showing the shoes. There were a couple of Jordan ads I was really excited about. The Carmelo Anthony commercial where he is dribbling around the city of Baltimore, where you get a chance to get inside Melo’s head. The Jordan commercial where he is going through all the different shoes, the one with the little kid doing the Jordan poses. I’m a big commercial watcher.
This looks like a classic, and the the Uncle Drew ads have already gone down as legendary. Do you have any input into what the commercial becomes?
Uncle Drew is mainly me. I write and produce them, with my production team helping. I’m behind the scenes, but all the lines and shooting I come up with.
In terms of getting other guys involved, such as Kevin Love and Bill Russell for instance, what is the thought process behind that?
They want to be a part of it, and I thought they would be good for it, so I reached out to their management and we got it done. They saw the fun in it, but also that it might mean being kind of uncomfortable. It’s not easy being in front of the camera and acting a certain way, especially as an old person. It’s fun having your imagination run wild. That’s what I wanted to show.
On the court you are one of the more creative players in the league. Does your creativity apply there?
I would say definitely. On the basketball court it’s more of a distinction, but that’s what I’ve been doing my entire life. So when I get in front of the camera, I just act like myself. Nothing is planned.
How long does something like an Uncle Drew ad take?
It takes a full day, four hours for makeup, then you have to shoot at different locations we have. There’s voiceovers. Reshoots to make it look more realistic.
Does the makeup hurt your game?
Not at all. I’m used to it now. The first time it was a little tough though.
So...no chance of you going on the court in full Uncle Drew makeup?
How do you feel about the season so far?
It’s been an adjustment, but our goal is the same. We still feel like we are a playoff contending team, and we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure we stay on the steady road we’re on. But we have seven new guys on the team, so it’s a big difference from last year.
Do you think LeBron will come home to Cleveland?
I’m not sure. I’m not sure. I'll leave that speculation to everybody else.
Check out Beat This Caption and Win a Signed Ball from Magic Johnson and 10 Grievances To Send to Al-Qaeda's New Complaints Department.