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Why the NBA Didn't Block Kobe Bryant's Gun-Toting 'Call of Duty' Ad

NBA Commissioner David Stern on Being a Leading Producer of Reality Programming

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Lakers star Kobe Bryant upset some people last year when he appeared in a violent commercial for the "Call of Duty: Black Ops" video game. "I'm looking at a 14-year-old boy right now who got shot in the head," a youth football coach who fights gun culture told ESPN, "and then I see Kobe get on TV looking like a damned fool, holding an assault weapon and wearing the same stuff the kids are wearing when they kill somebody."

Kobe Bryant in the commercial for 'Call of Duty: Black Ops.'
Kobe Bryant in the commercial for 'Call of Duty: Black Ops.'

"I couldn't believe it was him," the football coach said at another point. "What's wrong with him?"

For the NBA, a sports league with many rules about player conduct, however, this was a chance not to interfere, NBA commissioner David Stern said recently.

"There's a lot we do that can be viewed as intrusive to protect our brand," Mr. Stern told ESPN's Hannah Storm during the Association of National Advertisers' TV & Everything Video Forum. "I mean, that's the deal. But we look for places not to be intrusive. This was one where we saw it on the fringes and we didn't reach out and grab it."

Hear what else Mr. Stern had to say about player behavior and the NBA's position as "one of the largest producers of reality programming in the world."

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STEVE RADDOCK
'We are, you know, nonfiction,' NBA Commissioner David Stern said.
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