- K.J. Middlebrooks, better known as the “genius” dad who finesses tickets for his family, explains the story behind an iconic NBA commercial.
Have you watched at least five minutes of the NBA over the last 18 months?? Enough to make it through a couple TV timeouts? Then you’re well aware of the million-dollar question that’s hung over the league, making its way into our collective consciousness in ways we can hardly perceive.
The Andersons got tickets to the game? How’d they get tickets?
What began as a 30-second TV spot for NBATickets.com has become something much more, evolving into one of the NBA’s greatest mysteries. And in the pursuit of truth, we connected with K.J. Middlebrooks, better known as the “genius” dad who finesses tickets for his family, in spite of their arch-nemeses, the Andersons.
Middlebrooks lives and works in Los Angeles as an actor, and he also writes and produces promos for Freeform TV. You may have spotted him in commercials for Honda and Hyundai. He’ll soon make his way to the stage in “Sirens of Titan” with Sacred Fools Theater Company. And he may be the only one on Earth who understands what’s really happening in this commercial. He graciously passed his knowledge on to The Crossover.
Jeremy Woo: We gotta get this out of the way first. How did the Andersons get tickets to the game?
K.J. Middlebrooks: You know, it’s funny. The director, Rudy Crew, his mindset about the whole thing was really about the FOMO of missing out, in terms of being an average dad who has this next door neighbor, borrowed your stuff, never given it back, the kind of folks where if there’s a potluck they don’t show up with anything other than an appetite, it’s those people you love to hate, that are always one-upping you. I guess ultimately the idea was that the Andersons kinda knew somebody that got them in the game, because this thing had already been sold out for weeks. I got the impression they knew someone in the organization or something. The Andersons had a hookup.
JW: So the Andersons are the worst.
KM: Pretty much.
JW: Do people come up to you on the street and ask you how they got tickets? Do you get spotted at all?
KM: Well, not literally “How’d the Andersons get tickets,” it’s more about, hey are you that guy, were you in a commercial? Especially folks on the professional side, writing and producing, because I keep those things separate—my boss actually came to me and said, Do you have a brother? (Laughs) And I was like, no, that was me.
JW: The whole thing has kind of taken on a life of its own in a way.
KM: And I’m actually curious about that—I did a little bit of Googling and was surprised to see Dwyane Wade made a comment after a game in an interview.
JW: I was about to ask you that. When did you find out about the D-Wade thing?
KM: This weekend. After you reached out, I did a little research. I was like, “Oh wow, okay…” all the memes, and sportswriters doing stuff about it.
JW: Did you realize what the scope of the ad was going to be?
KM: No, as an actor, you go out and audition for things, and the cool part about this was, the director, in the call-backs, he was very much encouraging people to ad-lib and play around with things. The top part was always the same in terms of the Andersons, but the back side, “Your dad’s a genius,” was actually the line that I ad-libbed in the auditions. He was really cool enough to cast me, because he decided he was going to use that line and put it in the spot. And I have had situations in the past where I’ve auditioned for stuff, ad-libbed things and heard my own words in the spot later without me being in it.
JW: When your family finally buys tickets, the Andersons are already there and the game has either started or is extremely close to tip-off. How far from the arena do you live? Did you guys get there in time? Was there traffic? Where did you park?…
KM: Supposedly, they live close enough to get there. The idea is that when games do start, if all the tickets haven’t been filled, you can use NBA tickets to get hooked up and get there. But yeah. It helps if you live close to the arena. Or else you’re not getting there until the third quarter.
JW: Alright, so what about the confetti? It must have been a huge game. No way you got tickets to a Game 7 right at tipoff.
KM: (laughs) This was a game people had wanted to go to, and it had been sold out in all the other places. He didn’t know about NBATickets.com, his kid did, then he stole the idea. You know, to look good to his wife.
JW: Was there a theoretical real-life location for this? I’ve deduced it can’t be Miami, because, you know, the Andersons actually showed up on time for tip-off.
KM: I imagine it was some place on the West Coast. That might just be me, because I’m out here in L.A. I mean, it was definitely a sunny day. The idea was for it to be the average dad, average family, that anyone could do this. But at the same time, I always felt the trappings of the house made it look like I was living pretty good.
JW: What was the last NBA game you went to in real life?
KM: Uh, it actually was a Clippers game last year. Actually, it was a hookup that I got into the game, one of my co-worker’s husbands at the time was working for the team.
JW: Yeah, my next question was how you got tickets to the game.
KM: Yep, a friend of a friend. Guess I got an Andersons hookup.
This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.