The NBA season is about to tip off, and all eyes are on Los Angeles, where both the Lakers and the Clippers are making headlines because of their various off-season acquisitions. LeBron James continues to hold down the spotlight, but the… unusual Kawhi Leonard gets his fair share of press for being kind of robot. It’s a running joke amongst NBA fans that Leonard’s an unfeeling cyborg, so naturally The Terminator franchise leans into that with this hilarious ad for the new movie, Terminator: Dark Fate.
The clip is very clever, if you happen to pay close attention to the soap-opera sidebar jokes from the NBA. And it only gets stranger as it goes.
For starters, we have the former “Governator” himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, pumping iron and running into Kawhi in the gym. After a welcome to L.A., Arnold nicknames Leonard a “Terminator,” leading to an amusing Paul George cameo.
That, alone, would be enough. In an effort to compete with the star power of the Lakers, the L.A. Clippers lured Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to Southern California in the offseason, and seeing them in a spot with Schwarzenegger is the right level of Hollywood.
The joke of the laugh stems from this clip, when Kawhi Leonard shifted from the San Antoni Spurs to the Toronto Raptors. Kawhi is a superstar in the NBA, but because San Antonio’s off the grid, he’s largely a mystery to casual fans. When he tried to open up to reports at an NBA Media Day, this happened:
I love the self-awareness of the Terminator/Clippers ad. It’s not just another lazy movie gig. It plays into the frenzy around the launch of the NBA season, and the impending launch of Terminator: Dark Fate. More sports should play along with these partnerships, like when the NBA and Sony built ads around the launch of Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Look for Tim Miller’s Terminator: Dark Fate in theaters starting on November 1.