Behind The ScenesESPNNBAStarting 5

3 Backcourt Backstories From
ESPN CreativeWorks’ “The Grinch”/NBA player spots

With the season underway and the green fiend's movie opening Nov. 9,
who better to needle these "lightning rods in the vast NBA social media ecosystem"?

Draymond, Warriors part of ESPN’s NBA game slate Friday

ESPN presents four NBA games this week, including Draymond Green and his Golden State Warriors playing host to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday (10:30 p.m. ET). That is the nightcap of a doubleheader that opens with the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Washington Wizards (8 ET). Prior to that, ESPN showcases a Halloween night doubleheader when the Indiana Pacers visit the New York Knicks (8 ET) followed by the San Antonio Spurs at Phoenix Suns (10:30 ET). Visit ESPN MediaZone for more details.

He’s a mean one, that Mr. Grinch.

As the 2018-19 regular season unfolds, the fictional green character rankles the league’s stars with surprise cellphone calls – with witticisms inspired by their NBA backstories – in a new ad campaign airing on ESPN.

Golden State Warrior Draymond Green, Philadelphia 76er Joel Embiid and Cleveland Cavalier JR Smith each exchange words with the Grinch. As he does in the forthcoming “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch,” Academy Award® nominee Benedict Cumberbatch lends his voice to the infamous character for these spots, which were developed by ESPN’s CreativeWorks team in collaboration with Illumination and Universal Pictures.

“The start of the NBA season is one of the most exciting times of the year, and we are thrilled that ESPN and some of the coolest athletes in the world were game to let us play on their court, and have a little fun at their expense,” says Annah Zafrani, Senior Vice President of Integrated Marketing for Universal. “Illumination’s ‘The Grinch’ is reintroducing one of Dr. Seuss’ most iconic characters to a new generation, and voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, he’s not shy to share his opinions and mix it up a little. This partnership with ESPN allowed us to give fans an early taste of the Grinch’s wicked sense of humor, and prepare them to meet him in full when The Grinch opens nationwide on Nov. 9.”

“Draymond, Joel and JR are each lightning rods in the vast NBA social media ecosystem,” said Paul Meehan, creative director, ESPN CreativeWorks. “With the movie opening coming so close to the start of a new season – a time of unbridled optimism – it felt natural for a curmudgeon like the Grinch to target these three and throw a wet, green blanket on all the positivity.”

Here are some insights into what inspired the Grinch’s calls.

GRINCH GLIMPSES