July 22, 2024

Ad near Crypto.com Arena trolls Mavericks before Game 5 vs. Clippers

The Dallas Mavericks probably have not made their summer vacation plans just yet.

With their first-round Western Conference playoff series with the Clippers tied at 2-2, the Mavericks could see their season end as early as Friday night. In that case, the Dallas players might actually appreciate the contents of a billboard that’s near Crypto.com Arena for Game 5 on Wednesday night.

But probably not.

The ad at L.A. Live was placed by global travel company Skyscanner on the building at 1011 S. Figueroa St., just across Chick Hearn Court from the Clippers’ current home facility.

It reads in big letters, “Dallas to Cancun.” In smaller print underneath, it says, “For great flights to Cancun, visit Skyscanner.”

There’s no mention of the NBA, its teams or the playoffs, but the implication is clear — time for the Mavericks to start planning their vacations because this series is essentially over.

Andre Le Masurier, the global head of brand at Skyscanner, told The Times in an email Wednesday that the idea behind the billboard was “not so much to solely troll the Mavs, just to have some fun and stir the pot a little.”

“We’re a global company, comprised of NBA fans, fans of basketball and sports culture in general,” Le Masurier said. “We saw this moment as a fantastic opportunity to engage with Clippers and Mavericks fans and show some of our values and personality.”

The Clippers told The Times in an emailed statement Wednesday that “the billboard at L.A. Live is not owned or operated by the Clippers.”

“We have the utmost respect for our opponents and in no way endorse this message,” the Clippers added.

According to Le Masurier, the ad was inspired by the “1-2-3, Cancun!” catchphrase that was first uttered by then-Laker Nick Van Exel during the 1998 Western Conference finals, when the team was on the verge of being swept by the Utah Jazz.

“We’ve always thought the ‘1, 2, 3, Cancun’ meme was super fun, so when our creative partners at Courage Inc. came to us with the idea to do something clever and support the local team, we couldn’t resist,” Le Masurier said.

“We thought it was a fun way to bring some attention to Skyscanner with a little playful banter on a giant billboard outside one of the NBA’s most famous arenas. … The trash talking, trolling and rivalries are part of what makes the sport so compelling. But win or lose, Mexico is always a great spot to recharge the batteries and Skyscanner is one of the best at helping you get away for less.”

Of course, the series is anything but over.

Each team has won a game apiece at Crypto.com Arena. The fourth-seeded Clippers won Game 1 over the fifth-seeded Mavericks 109-97 without the services of Kawhi Leonard, their star player who was out with an inflamed right knee. Leonard returned for Game 2, scoring 15 points on seven-for-17 shooting and missing all five three-point attempts in 35 minutes during Dallas’ 96-93 win.

The series moved to Dallas, where Leonard had nine points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes as the Clippers lost 101-90 in Game 3. Leonard missed Game 4 with the same knee issues, but the Clippers won 116-114 behind James Harden, who finished with 33 points and scored 11 of the team’s final 16 points.

Leonard has been declared out for Game 5. The teams will return to Dallas on Friday for Game 6.

If there’s a Game 7, it will be Sunday at Crypto.com Arena, after which the members of one of the teams actually might find themselves on Skyscanner or another travel service booking their vacations.

“We hope fans of the Clippers and Mavs get a chuckle out of it,” Le Masurier said of his company’s ad.

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