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ESPN Social Evokes Nostalgia with Modernized Classic Promos During NBA Postseason

Before watching a crucial NBA Finals Game 5 tonight on ABC, go inside the making of ESPN Social’s special video edits to highlight today's stars with nods to icons of years past

To promote the NBA playoffs, the ESPN social media team remixed iconic NBA commercials with a modern twist. The two-part video series included a special video edit at the start of the playoffs – which is referenced above – and a second video to promote the Boston Celtics-Dallas Mavericks Finals matchup, which host Boston hopes to end with its 18th NBA Championship tonight in Game 5 on ABC.

The two-part video series received 30 million views across ESPN social media platforms. Using popular songs from Future and Metro Boomin, the team created content that resonated with both older and younger audiences, extending beyond social media to impact multiple platforms including linear TV, digital, and

ESPN Social team members Pablo Valdez, Mohammed Kloub, and Brad Ross highlight the creative work behind the project:

How did the concept evolve from the initial idea to the final project?
VALDEZ: The idea came from a conversation Moh and I had as we were thinking of ways to promote the NBA Finals. We were fresh off the success of our NBA Playoffs collaboration with our designer, Brad Ross, and wanted to recreate that hype. The NBA Playoffs video was inspired by an iconic NBA commercial, so we thought it would be smart to stay on that theme for our follow-up. We quickly landed on the idea of refreshing the famous “Where Amazing Happens” ESPN commercial and got to work. Moh and I worked together to find the plays for the video, and Brad worked his magic from there. 
KLOUB: Great content starts with an idea from our creative teammates. For the “Finals Time” video, we brainstormed with Pablo, focusing on beloved NBA Finals promos. Nostalgia was key, but we also aimed to excite fans about a new era and matchup. Inspired by the Kobe [Bryant] and Shaq [O’Neal] commercial, we decided on two scenes for each Finals team. We debated which highlights to use, ultimately waiting for [Dallas Mavericks guard] Luka Dončić’s game-winner and [Boston Celtics forward Jayson] Tatum’s dagger with an emotive celebration.

We worked with Brad daily on design, addressing questions about text and transitions and combining music with announcer calls until the final product came together.
What specific elements or techniques were used to create the final product? 
ROSS: We used a variety of VFX [visual effects] techniques, including camera tracking, clean plates, and rotoscoping to highlight the original plays. We intended to make the Mavericks and Celtics stand out from their NBA Conference Finals. 

Did you expect this level of engagement and attention?
VALDEZ: After the success of our NBA Playoffs video, we knew we had found a formula that worked: refreshing iconic NBA commercials from our childhood with a modern twist. I am a firm believer that our audience will always resonate with good content. In our case, thanks in large part to Brad, the content was excellent. We were confident that the fans would appreciate it! 
ROSS: From our previous experience with high-end edits to promote NBA games, we had a feeling that this would do well on social. We used different strategies across all the platforms to ensure this video would perform well. 
KLOUB: As creatives and sports fans ourselves, we always hope the work we do engages and receives attention from as many fellow fans as possible. We love basketball, and there is nothing quite like the Finals, so we knew if we started from a place of passion that, it would resonate with the audience. Seeing people enjoy the work and share it might be my favorite part of the entire process, but it all starts from fewer expectations and more focus on creativity. 

The NBA Finals Presented By YouTube TV continues in Game 5 (tonight, 8:30 ET, ABC, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio) as the host Boston Celtics look to clinch their record-setting 18th NBA Championship, while the Dallas Mavericks look to extend the best-of-seven series. Boston leads the series, 3-1. For more on ESPN’s NBA coverage, visit ESPN Press Room

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