‘What a Pro Wants’? Start with less of that SGA-Chet commercial

‘What a Pro Wants’? Start with less of that SGA-Chet commercial

The AT&T ad featuring the Thunder stars isn’t great, but it’s biggest flaw isn’t the singing of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander or Chet Holmgren.

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

| May 5, 2024, 6:00am CDT

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

May 5, 2024, 6:00am CDT

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A country that is incapable of agreeing on anything these days has finally coalesced around a single issue.

Hatred of the “What A Pro Wants” commercial featuring SGA and Chet.

No doubt you know the TV ad — and if you don’t, you’ve luckily been living in a cave — because it seems to be playing every five seconds during these NBA Playoffs. It’s become such an earworm, such a topic of national conversation that no less than Time and USA Today have opined about the outrage.

In case you need a quick refresher on the spot, it starts with Thunder stars Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chet Holmgren walking out what is probably supposed to be a hotel, when Holmgren mentions he just got a text from AT&T (yep, that’s what the commercial’s for) saying it had the best plan for him.

“They know what a pro wants,” Chet says.

“What a pro needs,” SGA replies.

Then they break into song, parroting Christina Aguilera’s “What a Girl Wants” and singing instead about, well, you know.

As they reach a bus, SGA nods a bit.

“A little flat,” he says to Chet. “We’ll work on it.”

Chet looks stunned and a bit hurt as SGA gets on the bus.

Now, it is not Mean Joe Greene giving his jersey to a kid in exchange for his Coke. Or Michael Jordan telling us to drink Gatorade and “Be Like Mike.” Or “Lil’ Penny” or “Uncle Drew” or any of the other amazing commercials Nike has done over the years.

But “What a Pro Wants” is definitely not the worst commercial ever made either.

Some folks would have you believe otherwise.

“Trying to think of the worst moment of my life,” one wrote on Twitter. “Oh, wait, I remember: it’s watching this Shai-Chet ‘What a Pro Wants’ commercial.”

Another wrote, “The AT&T ‘What a Pro Wants, What a Pro Needs’ commercial is officially the worst commercial of all time. I’ve been watching the playoffs in a constant state of fear that it could rear its head at any time.”

Still another wrote, “I’m actually considering switching providers from AT&T to T-Mobile because of the ‘What a Pro Wants’ commercial.”

My former Oklahoman colleague David Ubben, who now covers college football for The Athletic, also had some strong sentiments about the ad on Twitter.

“I’m ready to call it: aided in part by being force fed to hoops fans for months,” he wrote, “the Chet/SGA ‘What a Pro Wants’ is the worst commercial in history.”

Worst? I’m not ready to go that far, even though the earworm is bad. 

But I’m not here to defend the ad like, say, Thunder reserve Aaron Wiggins did Thursday after practice when I asked him about it.

“I thought they sounded really good,” Wiggins said.

(Eyebrows raising.)

“They’re very talented guys, very well rounded.”

(Laughter.)

“I don’t know why they get a ton of hate on the commercial. I like it. They know how to sing, too.”

(Oh, boy.)

“I sing with it when it comes on.”

Yeah, I’m not jumping in the deep end of that pool. Wiggins is going to have to swim there on his own. But here’s where I agree with him: it’s not as bad as some people say.

It suffers from over-exposure.

Sportico reported Friday morning that in the past week alone, the ad has aired on national TV no less than 473 times. 

Four hundred and seventy-three!

That’s not just during broadcasts of the NBA Playoffs, of course. The ad is actually in heavier rotation during the NHL Playoffs, according to Sportico. It has run 212 times during live coverage of the hockey playoffs versus 106 times during NBA games.

I’m not sure that makes basketball fans any happier.

But at least the ad has good (or bad, depending on how you see it) company. The broadcasts of the NBA Playoffs seem to have the same five or six ads on repeat. Think about it: Wingstop’s “No Flex Zone,” Google Pixel’s “Hit That Pose, Take That Flick” and Apple’s “Don’t Let Me Go” are played at least once or twice a quarter along with “What a Pro Wants.” 

It’s too much.

Dan Patrick said as much, too, when he did an entire segment on “What a Pro Wants” earlier this week on The Dan Patrick Show.

“Sometimes when a commercial is bad, it’s OK, you can tolerate it,” he said. “But when it gets played a lot, and you’re like, ‘Oh, no.’ Then I’m mad at AT&T for no other reason than, ‘How’d you allow this to happen?’”

Could the commercial be better? 

Of course.

Just last year, SGA teamed with fellow Kentucky Wildcat Jacob Toppin on an AT&T commercial that was fun. It had banter about whether it’s best to stay with a phone plan for a year or longer, a not-so-veiled reference to basketball players going pro early or staying in college.

SGA can do a good commercial.

AT&T can do a good commercial.

They just didn’t do a very good one with “What a Pro Wants.”

Now, what everyone wants, nay what everyone needs, is a lot less airtime for it.

 

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Jenni Carlson is a columnist with the Sellout Crowd network. Follow her on Twitter at @JenniCarlson_OK. Email [email protected].

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