Nike basketball commercials have come a long way since the black & white era of Michael Jordan’s “Is it the Shoes?” campaign. It was a time when commercials were still shot on film, and people were exploring the dynamics of camera movements and quick editing. The commercial starred Spike Lee who portrayed as Mars Blackmon who is an enthusiastic fanboy. The commercial garnered much attention as it gave Nike commercials a voice.
Today, Nike commercials have a new level of grit with much more sophisticated techniques of visual storytelling. Here are my top picks for the best modern Nike Basketball Commercials.
#3: Unlimited Together
Set in Chicago, we hear the voice of Chance the Rapper singing a moving piece as we see footage of the USA men and women’s basketball team portrayed on the walls of the city. This year, Chance the Rapper released his highly anticipated album, Coloring Book. He’s a hot trend with a tight fan base that is closely related to the basketball community.
Even though it’s 2016, the color of the video is black & white, yet it allows a grace of simplicity. This is a commercial for the Olympics in Rio. Even though it is set in another country, we have a strong connection to our athletes in the US and it shows our undeniable support for them as they play in the Olympics.
The commercial is raw and creative and shot in a very practical way. It’s a powerful message that shows less but says more. The power is in the eyes of the athletes as the prepare to play across the seas. This moment is bigger than them. They play to represent a nation and we see the humbling preparation as they get ready to play. The basketball players are presented as strong role models, heroes who have earned the right to play for the country. Through their hard work and dedication to their sport, we witness the a significant moment captured: basketball is a game, but it represents so much more.
#2: The Conductor
The 2016 – 2017 Basketball Season is going to be a whole lot different without the Black Mamba on the court. This commercial handles a clever misdirection and transforms the crowd into a choir for Kobe’s departure. Kobe is known to be an assassin on the court. He has tuned the noise, the disparity, the negativity, and harnessed them into pure motivation. Two words: Five rings.
This commercially comedically portrays how Kobe has conducted the noise throughout the years and marched to his own beat. As the crowd is upset with him for winning at the final buzzer, he silences the crowd as they realize how much of a love / hate relationship the haters have it with Kobe Bean Bryant. We see appearances from Phil Jackson, Paul Pierce, and Rasheed Wallace. The people in the crowd all wear jersey’s from the other team and all emotionally cry out and shout how much they “hate” Kobe.
The Mamba’s smile throughout the chorus is simply devious and hilariously funny. The cinematography has such a voice in this commercial and as we conclude the commercial, we see him walk down an aisle. We often see athletes walk down aisles as they get ready for a game, so this image allows us to interpret the scene as Kobe walking into a new chapter of his life.
Declaring one commercial as simply the best was unbearable, but Lebron’s commercial of him uniting with his teammates – and the city as a matter of fact – is so powerful and it makes us witness how important basketball is to our world. Basketball is more than a game. Lives are impacted. Hope is inspired.
What gets me every time is seeing the mass of people rush to the center and they yell out “TOGETHER.” If that’s not teamwork, I don’t know what is. I wish I could be a part of the crowd. Listening Lebron’s words, is so powerful because the room is so silent despite all the people. It’s because everyone is listening, waiting for the commands of the leader. Everyone looking towards one person for inspiration and courage. Meanwhile, that one person, LeBron James of all people, is saying that he can’t do it alone. He needs the people of Cleveland. This is for them. It’s US instead of I.
The passion behind the commercial gives me chills every single time I watch it. Seeing the people cover the streets in unity is an inspiring message. We see humanity at work. It’s the people who make change, and everyone is willing to do their best.