The first thing you find out about NBA All-Star Weekend when you tune in to NBA All-Star Weekend is that every single moment of the experience is branded. This is fine, all in all: money makes the world go 'round, and as a for-profit content enterprise SB Nation is not uncomfortable with brands. (In fact, State Farm is a current advertiser!)
But the NBA and its brand partners outdid themselves to open Saturday's extravaganza in New Orleans. After MC Nick Cannon rattled off the event scheduled -- brought to you by Sears, Taco Bell, Foot Locker and Sprite -- the crowd got a visit from Cliff Paul, who is a character created for an insurance ad campaign starring Chris Paul.
Said insurer State Farm is doing a great thing: donating a grip of cash to the worthy charities tied to the winning conference. And State Farm deserves the recognition for doing it. But man, trotting Chris Paul, its endorsing NBA superstar, out in a fake mustache to announce it is totally Peak Brand for the NBA and All-Star Weekend.
Cliff Paul had an official All-Star Saturday, and Chris Paul did not. This is David Stern's legacy. It is a Don Draper's Pride and Prejudice.
(And yes, a long State Farm Cliff Paul ad ran during the first commercial break.)