When the Spurs practice complex off Huebner Road and Floyd Curl Drive looks like a Hollywood sound stage it can mean only one thing: H-E-B is shooting its wildly popular commercials featuring Spurs players that run through the Spurs season.
The question on everyone’s minds before the shoot began: Would Tim Duncan be featured despite having announced retirement from his playing career?
Considering that Duncan remains ”the coach of whatever he feels like,” according to Gregg Popovich, it seemed logical that Duncan, the star of many a H-E-B commercial in seasons past, might remain in the cast of characters in the spots.
Veteran guard Manu Ginobili was skeptical.
“I read the scripts and he is not in there,” Ginobili said. “Maybe he will be an extra; make a cameo (appearance), in the background.”
Definitely returning from H-E-B shoots past are Ginobili, point guards Tony Parker and Patty Mills, and starting forwards Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Making his debut is new starting center Pau Gasol.
“Yes, there is a big, long, tall Spanish dude added,” Ginobili said. “I can’t tell you who but I think we’ve got someone new.”
Both Ginobili and Mills called the H-E-B shoots a fun experience.
“When you begin the day and you know you’re going to be here for long hours, it’s tough,” Ginobili said, “but then you end up having a lot of fun and it’s always a good day.”
“For guys who’ve been doing it a number of years it’s a different experience,” Mills said. “I think that’s the good thing about it: You get to see everyone’s character come out away from the basketball court, which you don’t get to see all the time. It’s fun and we make the most of it.”
There will be another commercial built around the “Cooking with Tony” theme that produced one of the funnier spots last season. A “Cooking With Tony” food truck parked in the employee lot at the practice complex made that much clear. Nearby, a second featured produce at an ersatz Farmers Market.
The reach of the commercials goes well beyond H-E-B’s Texas market.
“The crazy thing about them is these things go around the world, especially in Australia,” said Australian-born Mills. “Everyone in Australia is waiting for these commercials to come out now.”
Top image: The Farmers Market set in the parking lot at the Spurs complex, where the H-E-B commercials were being filmed on Thursday. Photo by Mike Monroe.