Some things never change with the San Antonio Spurs. Every year you can count on unselfish ball movement, a 50 win season, and goofy but amazing HEB commercials starring the players. The 2016 ads debuted last night during the Spurs’ 102-94 win over Sacramento, but the game was just one of 82. These commercials will play on our TVs all season, and they range in quality from pretty good to iconic. Let’s break down the film.
— H-E-B (@HEB) October 28, 2016
Fundamentally sound HEB commercial here. It drives home the international background of the team, shouts out Hondo, Texas and their beautiful corn, and gives us an A+ stank face from Kawhi Leonard when Danny Green says California is weird.
This one is fairly straightforward. Manu Ginobili (Argentina) and Pau Gasol (Spain) are grilling delicious HEB meats, and they talk en español to Patty Mills (Australia) and Danny Green (Long Island, NY) about la carne. Mills and Green cannot speak Spanish until they taste the meat which is presumably so good that it literally puts Spanish fluency into their bodies, which is quite impressive. A few tacos have done this to me and I still dream about them from time to time.
— H-E-B (@HEB) October 28, 2016
This commercial is the one that will stand the test of time, and we will look back on it years later and recognize it as the birth of a star. On the surface it’s a pretty standard HEB commercial with an excellent performance from Kawhi Leonard, which on its own is a pretty great thing. When you peel back the layers of this extraordinary advertisement, you realize that it’s also deeply symbolic of the major changes in the Spurs organization.
Tony Parker walks into a room where Patty Mills, LaMarcus Aldridge, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi are all doing origami in a room they have presumably filled with origami, which is a thing that probably happens at the Spurs’ facility several times a month. The guys explain to Tony that HEB’s pre-cut stir fry kits saved them so much time they decided to master the ancient art of paper folding.
LaMarcus: “My frog has serious hops man, and Patty made an alligator.”
This is a perfect line for LaMarcus Aldridge. He says it like a dad who heard someone cool say ‘serious hops’ and thought his kids would think he was cool if he used it in casual conversation, and that’s exactly how LaMarcus Aldridge would say that line.
Patty: (emphatically) “Crocodile”
This is a perfect line for Patty Mills. He is from Australia like crocodiles, who are slightly different than alligators. Patty is the exact type of person who not only knows that crocs have a V shaped snout and prefer salt water habitats, but also will forcefully correct you if you mistake his origami crocodile for a freshwater dwelling, U-shaped-snout-having gator.
Tony: “Kawhi, what is that?”
This is a perfect line for Tony Parker. He asks the question like a mother who isn’t sure what the answer is but she’s pretty sure she’s not gonna like the answer, and that’s exactly how Tony Parker would say that line.
Ok, here’s where we have to read into what the players are saying to uncover the hidden symbolism.
Kawhi: (proudly holding up origami snowball) “It’s a snowball.”
The “snowball” is clearly a metaphor for Kawhi’s basketball skills. You’ll notice that the crumpled piece of paper is quite large for a snowball, especially considering how big Leonard’s hands are. In the past few years his skillset has grown incrementally and exponentially, building on itself much like a snowball. Kawhi is entering the prime of his career with an impressive and refined skillset which he has worked hard to create, much like his origami snowball, and he’s proud of what he has built.
Manu: (genuinely) “That’s a pretty good snowball, Kawhi.”
Ginobili is the elder statesman of the Spurs. In his prime he was a driving force behind championship runs, but he’s on the tail end of his storied career now. Here, Manu acknowledges the passing of the torch to a worthy successor to the Big 3. When he tells Kawhi that his “snowball” is “pretty good,” that’s a tremendous compliment. Coach Popovich called the Spurs’ 29 point win over Golden State “pretty good,” and Kawhi’s basketball skillset is about as dominant as that game was. Manu is saying, “ Kawhi, you’re really, really, really good at basketball, this is your team now and you’re gonna do a great job.”
Kawhi: “Yeah, I know.”
Patty: “It’s no crocodile”
Alright Patty we get it.