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Ryen Russillo shared the wildest bribe he received during individual awards season ever

I get trying to be different, but if the gift is only remembered as a punchline on a podcast a decade later, you missed the mark.
Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love

Kevin Love

The regular season is over, and that means voters are filling out their ballots - MVP, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player, First, Second and Third All-NBA teams are all up for grabs. It's no secret teams launch PR campaigns to get their players all the awards they crave. 

The stars need to feel their franchise did everything it could to get them fame and glory. That involves a lot of merch being sent to voters, in addition to pamphlets and all sorts of arguments to support their player's case. Ryen Russilo shared the wildest bribe he received, and this one you truly wouldn't guess in a million years. 

Eau de Cologne 

I'm sure no one casts their MVP vote based on a hoodie or a jersey a team sent them. The gifts are probably more of a signal to the player that the team is doing everything they can. But let's say for a moment you are, and let's call a spade a spade, trying to bribe reporters to vote for your guy. What would you send them?

My first thoughts were gadgets and unique basketball memorabilia. Maybe food or a nice bottle of wine? Well, years ago, the Minnesota Timberwolves went another route. 

Back in the ESPN days, one of my favorite campaigning items that showed up. The Timberwolves, I forget for which award it was, but they sent this Kevin Love cologne. It was labeled and this whole thing - it was hilarious.

Ryen Rusillo, The Bill Simmons Podcast

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Yep, they had a custom-made Kevin Love cologne produced and sent to media members to try and persuade them to give him their vote. I get trying to be different, but if the gift is only remembered as a punchline on a podcast a decade later, you missed the mark. 

Shameless campaigning

If you felt like Embiid was suddenly showing up in every podcast you followed and was suggested in a plethora of YouTube videos, you're not going crazy. Joel's obviously been most hungry to get the MVP, and we know that Daryl Morey puts the entire force of his organization at his stars' disposal. 

As with every other process in which humans cast a vote, the narrative is as important as the facts. And given how close the race between Jokić (my favorite for MVP), Embiid, and Antetokounmpo has been, getting your story out there as much as possible is a logical move. 

What we don't know most of the time, and what Russillo also shared, is how shameless the teams get when it's time to campaign. One of the segments on his podcast is called Life Advice - it was born out of a hilarious moment when Russillo was on Simmons' podcast and had a monologue about a particularly miserable period in his life and how he got through it. So now fans can send questions for that segment, and Russillo answers some of them at the end of each episode. 

The Houston Rockets sent in a Jalen Green Rookie of the Year campaign to the Life Advice email, cause they didn't have the contact for me. And the thing is, I don't blame them!

Ryen Rusillo, The Bill Simmons Podcast

The ROTY race is a two-man affair between Cade Cunningham and Scottie Barnes. Before his injury, Evan Mobley was the front runner. At no time in the season did Jalen Green have any serious traction for the award, but same as Rusillo, I understand why the Rockets sent a promo email to an email adress for a segment on life advice. 

They did it because they are terrified years from now Green's not going to re-sign because they didn't push hard enough for a meaningless award when he was a rookie. That's how terrified teams are of stars in the modern NBA. It's like buying your kid a red car when they specifically asked for a red one. Seems like the league is full of Mackenzies.

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