Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the August 24 print edition of The Times-Sentinel. Most of our stories appear first in print, and many are only in print. To get home delivery, please call 316-540-0500.
By Sam Jack
CHENEY – Those who have tuned into local TV this month have likely seen a new Lubbers Cars commercial, featuring Toronto Raptors point guard and former Wichita State basketball star Fred VanVleet.
“When I’m in the offseason, I’m at Lubbers, checking in on my guys and getting the best deal around from the largest Chevy/Ford dealer in Kansas,” VanVleet says in the commercial. “Plus, when you see something like this, you know you’ve got to lend a little professional help.”
On “this,” the spot cuts to sales managers Chris and Billy Lubbers, dressed in Cheney basketball jerseys, comedically trying to dribble.
“If I’m willing to travel from Toronto to find the best deals, what’s stopping you?” Van Vleet concludes.
The Lubbers dealership is a big Shockers booster, lending the university vehicles in exchange for season tickets that the owners and employees share.
Chris Lubbers said VanVleet forged a personal connection with the dealership when he worked for it part-time during college.
“Several of the players would pick up cars from auctions for us, and shuffle them around for us occasionally,” he said. “We’ve kept in touch with Fred, and we actually helped him out on a car purchase last year, when he first got into the (NBA). One of the things we asked is, ‘If we help you with this car purchase, would you be interested in doing a commercial?’”
When VanVleet was back in town a few weeks ago, he called Lubbers and asked if he could come film one. Gina Spexarth, the dealership’s marketing manager and Billy Lubbers’ sister, wrote the script.
“Fred did a really good job. He nailed it on the first or second take,” Chris Lubbers said.
The commercial is out of rotation now but will probably go back on the air when basketball season gets underway.
VanVleet hasn’t let his pro status go to his head, according to Chris Lubbers.
“You would think someone in his position could have a big head, but he’s not that way at all. He’s a hard worker, and he deserves good things to happen to him.”
VanVleet went undrafted out of college but worked his way onto the Raptors’ NBA roster and made a significant contribution last season. He also led the Raptors’ development team, Raptors 905, to the D-League championship this April. He will compete for a spot as backup point guard this season.