If you have yet to peep this… do it now:
LeBron’s new Nike commercial is destined the be an iconic moment in shoe advertising, player marketing, and probably LeBron’s career. In it he cleverly gives the media, moralistic pundits, Charles Barkley and even Michael Jordan a cheeky one fingered salute– before reminding everyone that he’s about to hit the 2011 season like a twister through a trailer park. While there will be many posts written about the significance of each dig, joke, and statement in the 90 second spot– I thought one of the most clever comes in the last 4 seconds.
Instead of finishing the brilliant montage with his signature, thundering, one-handed odes to power, the commercial ends with a delicate finger roll layup. The statement seems to be that LeBron is not a bull in a PR China store, nor a brute on the court. Yes, he has the physical prowess to do this, but he also has the touch and finesse to pull this (and the commercial) off.
Like Jordan, LeBron is known for his spectacular dunks. But if you watch enough of either, you notice that they are actually both masters of the difficult lay up, of slipping the ball past defenders softly off the backboard and through the net. Because James is so big, strong and fast, the tremendous skill with which he finishes at the rim is often drowned out by the roars that his jackhammer slams evoke. It’s not subtle a re-branding by Nike, but one that skillfully aligns LBJ’s underrated basketball acumen with the commercial’s intelligent, biting humor.