McDonald’s announcement via Twitter today that it has filmed a Super Bowl TV commercial that features LeBron James, Dwight Howard and Larry Bird was surprising on at least three levels.

The first was that it’s difficult to get McDonald’s to talk about any future plans, least of all in advertising. “Stay tuned,” is the usual reply. Second, as recently as Monday, McDonald’s hadn’t appeared on lists of expected Super Bowl advertisers that I saw. Usually, if McDonald’s is in on big media buys, it’s in early. I assumed it was sitting out this one.

Finally, possible remakes of McDonald’s iconic 1993 TV spot with Michael Jordan and Larry Bird have been rumored for years, but nothing had come of them. The original commercial (top left) was titled “The Showdown” but often is recalled for its most famous line,“Nothing but net.” In 2007, Ad Age reported that a redo was being considered with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade.

That didn’t happen, but McDonald’s did make a new version of the famous commercial that year. Embedded above right, it stars Zhu Fongyu and Yi Jianlian and aired in China.

A basketball commercial seems a bit of a strange choice for the Super Bowl, but I’ll stay tuned.