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The stories behind the most iconic sports commercials

A wisecracking, trash-talking puppet. Cy Young Award winners with a jealous streak. A power forward in a flower-print dress and pearls. Sometimes the commercial breaks during a big game provide more entertainment than what happens between the lines.

Iconic Sports Commercials is a Yahoo Sports series highlighting those unforgettable spots, from how they were conceived, to behind-the-scenes tales from the set, to what made them so influential. Below is each piece in the series:

For most of his hallowed football career, he was known for tossing aside smaller men and never backing down from a fight. How an iconic Coca-Cola commercial revealed to America that Mean Joe Greene wasn’t so mean after all.

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Michael Jordan’s most notable ad campaign wouldn’t have happened if two advertising writers hadn’t gone to see a vapid romantic comedy 33 years ago. Discover the serendipitous story of how that night paved the way for the unforgettable Michael Jordan-Spike Lee partnership.

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“What we witnessed was the first fully documented marketing orgasm.” In 1989, Nike risked a significant chunk of its total advertising budget on a talented but unproven multi-sport phenom. Find out how that bet paid off in just one night.

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In the early 1990s, one of the NBA’s toughest, most intimidating power forwards donned a flower-print dress and pearls in a national ad campaign. Learn how Converse persuaded Larry Johnson to become Grandmama.

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“What the hell is that? You can’t wear that!” Why Michael Jordan’s outfit is the one thing director Joe Pytka would change about the iconic 1993 McDonald’s spot considered one of the greatest Super Bowl commercials of all time.

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“Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.” The story of the most polarizing pre-Kaepernick Nike commercial and why the shoe-apparel giant welcomed the backlash Charles Barkley’s words inspired.

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Why did Nike originally nix Lil’ Penny? Which Lil Penny commercial had Michael Jordan fuming? Will we ever see a Lil’ Penny comeback? Inside the Chris Rock-voiced campaign that turned a wisecracking puppet into a cultural phenomenon.

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Tiger Woods’ most famous commercial was largely a happy accident. How a Nike employee’s quick thinking during a shoot led the shoe-apparel giant to push aside a big-budget spot and throw its weight behind some impromptu footage.

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The signature line in baseball’s most famous commercial initially didn’t appear in the script. Find out what bland, forgettable phrase originally punctuated the famous 1999 Nike commercial and how the iconic catchphrase became a late addition.

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