Pro Stars Morph Back to College Selves in NBA’s Striking March Madness Ads

Translation's crossover dribble

The NBA is putting a whole new spin on throwback jerseys.

The professional basketball league has launched its first campaign around NCAA March Madness by employing a neat visual trick—showing NBA stars with overlaid animations of the college uniforms from their NCAA days.

Stephen Curry, James Harden, Al Horford, Kyle Lowry, Paul Pierce, Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook all star in 15-second ads from Translation, voiced by the indomitable Dick Vitale.

It's not just the clothes that change. Westbrook, presently of the Oklahoma City Thunder and formerly of the UCLA Bruins, transforms into a bear wearing a pair of the player's infamous red glasses. Even the YouTube video descriptions are packed with Vitale slang, Easter eggs for the hardcore zealots.

Running under the tagline "The dance never ends," it's a nice simple concept, illustrating that some of the college stars that viewers are cheering on now will be in the NBA soon enough—and that it's OK to enjoy both leagues.

The spots don't show the pros giving up wads of cash as they return to the NCAA, though.

CREDITS
Brand/Client: NBA
Campaign Title: "March Madness"
Spot Title: "2015 March Madness Animated, Baby!" 
First Air Date: 3/23/15

Agency: Translation 
Chief Executive Officer: Steve Stoute 
Chief Creative Officer: John Norman
Chief Strategy Officer: John Greene
Executive Creative Director: Betsy Decker
Senior Creatives: Matthew McFerrin, Armando Samuels, Matt Comer
Head of Brand Strategy: Tim Flood
Strategists: Lindsey Neeld, Geoff McHenry
Director of Broadcast Production: Miriam Franklin
Executive Producer: Carole McCarty
Associate Producer: Philinese Kirkwood
Business Affairs Manager: Brian Enright
Senior Vice President, Group Account Director: Tim Van Hoof
Account Executive: Chris Martin
Senior Project Manager: Matt DeSimone

Production Companies: Blacklist, Golden Wolf
Executive Producer: Andrew Linsk
Producer: Patrick Gantert
Creative Director: Ingi Erlingsson
Producer: Ant Baena
Production Assistant: Corina Priestley
Roto / Prep: Krishnan Balakrishnan, Nikita Alagan, Aravindan.C, Thirupathi Raja, Stephan, Arun.N, Murthy.N, Satish.R
Design: Stefan Falconer, Pedro Vergani
Animation: Stefan Falconer, Tim Whiting, Pablo Lozano, Mattias Breitholtz, Romain Loubersanes, Steffano Ottaviano, Harj Bains, Samuel Bell, Duncan Gist

Postproduction Company: WAX, New York
Editor: Joe Dillingham
Assistant Editor: Nate Kim
Managing Partner: Toni Lipari
Senior Producer: Evan Meeker
Conform: WAX

Color Grade (NBA footage): CO3, New York
Colorist: Tom Poole
Producer: Rochelle Brown
Assistant Colorist: Kath Raisch

Color Grade (Animation): WAX
Colorist: Steve Picano

Audio Post: Sonic Union
Engineers (Mix): David Papa, Fernando Ascani
Studio Director: Justine Cortale
Mix Assistant: Ben Conlon

Voiceovers: Dick Vitale, Todd Cummings

Music, Sound Design: Future Perfect Music
Composer: Victor Margo
Executive Producers: Maxwell Gosling, John Connolly