It’s been fifteen years since Bob and I created the classic McDonald’s commercial, featuring Michael Jordan and Larry Bird playing a game of horse for a Big Mac.
Since then, Bird vs. Jordan has been named one of the ten greatest commercials of all time. A perrenial top five finisher of every Best of Super Bowl commercial competition. And there’s rarely a basketball game that isn’t played where an announcer doesn’t allude to the spot, although it hasn’t run fifteen years. “It’s like that Michael Jordan and Larry Bird commercial…off the wall, over the bench…” You know the rest, “Nothing but net.”
Bob and I have done who-knows-how-many interviews about the making of the spot. Entertainment Weekly, Time Magazine. all the trades. New York Times, even a few newspapers in Australia, the UK and Brazil. It seems strange that magazines still want to talk about the spot. But, I don’t mind. I still get a kick out of it. The question are always pretty much the same, “Did you know you had a classic when you did it?” “What’s it like to have a commercial that people actually remember for that long?” “How were Michael and Larry to work with?”
I have a lot of stories that I need to write about the experience. Like when Bob’s dad meet his hero Larry Bird. What happened when Larry Bird referred to legendary director Joe Pytka as an “asshole”. What Michael told Larry when they were being hoisted the rafters. Why Michael Jordan is wearing that god awful wardrobe. Why Larry isn’t wearing a god awful wardrobe. Looking back, while we were doing the commercial, Michael knew that his father was missing (and later found dead on the side of a North Carolina road). Lots of stories.
People rarely remember it, but we made a sequel to the original “Nothing but Net” for the ‘95 Super Bowl. But, like most sequels, it sucked. Neither of us wanted to do it, but we were “encouraged” to write the spot by our bosses at Leo Burnett. What a mess. We had Charles Barkley on a horse. Nuff stuff. We’d also heard that Chiat-Day had been planning to do a remake of the spot, using LeBron James, but on the day of the shoot, LeBron became a new father and the spot was never made.
I promise I will soon followup with a story about the making of Bird vs. Jordan. But right now there’s a game about to start and I want to watch the commercials.