Professional Basketball Players Who Missed Their Calling as Candy Pitchmen

Ranging from fast food and soft drinks to cell phones and video games, athlete endorsements these days know no boundaries. Companies flock to connect themselves with professional sports stars and the worldwide appeal they carry with them.

Since Michael Jordan rose to fame two decades ago, basketball players have emerged as the world’s top celebrity endorsers. Dwayne Wade sells sports drinks and office supplies. Kobe Bryant endorses airline tickets and designer watches. And Dwight Howard pushes Big Macs and vitamin water.

How, it seems fair to wonder, has candy become foreign turf when it comes to NBA player endorsements? It wasn’t long ago that baseball fans chomped on Reggie bars, a sweet-toothed homage to Yankees star Reggie Jackson. But the world hasn’t seen a comparable product since, which got us thinking that certain NBA players missed their true calling by not signing on with a candy maker. Here are five players who jump to mind, along with candy creations that might have sold well with a head of NBA-star steam behind them.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

The name change from Lew Alcinder was motivated by religion but imagine what the financial benefits as a candy pitchman could have been for Captain Hook Shot. Lakers fans would have lined up for blocks to enjoy the chocolaty, creamy deliciousness of a Cream Abdulja Bar.

Carmelo Anthony

The man with the sweetest name in sports would be a natural to endorse anything that includes caramel. From those tasty little Kraft Caramel Squares to popular Sugar Daddy suckers, Carmelo could rank among the top Halloween-time hawkers.  In recent years, he even brings with him the big-market appeal that CEOs love.

Michael Olowokandi

Whether a big bag of multi-colored sweet tarts or a jumbo chocolate bar filled with peanuts, what kid wouldn’t love to get his hands on some Olowo Candy. And since the big man was born in Nigeria, raised in England, and played ball in the U.S., the treat would surely be a worldwide hit no matter what the flavor.

Darko Milicic

Detroit fans might agree that there would be a subtle irony had Milicic hawked a dark chocolate candy bar. After all, Pistons followers were plenty bitter after the team selected Darko high in the draft ahead of the likes of Carmelo Anthony. Still, the Dark O’Bar would have had some pretty interesting marketing potential for the few months that fans held onto hope that his career would develop.

Mookie Blaylock

We aren’t sure why, but we’re imagining a round piece of chocolate filled with pretzel, caramel and peanut butter. The Mookie Cookie. Mook Chocolate. Call it whatever you want. Nearly any combination of candy bar ingredients would have worked if pushed by a pro athlete with a nickname as cool as Mookie.

The power of the NBA pitchman is proven. So too is the world’s love of candy. Like peanut butter and chocolate, some things just go together. How long can it be before the two worlds collide again?

Photo: SportsPLAN Studio

Detroit-based writer Ken Welsch is pretty sure his favorite M&M’s are the ones with pretzels in them, although the ones with peanuts are good, too. His office candy dispenser vends the plain kind.