Nike: Kevin Durant Wins A Championship, And Silences His Critics

Kevin Durant has always been a favorite of mine, going back to his lone year at the University of Texas. And now, he has a ring (and a Finals MVP to go along with it). While I would have much rather preferred him to win it in Oklahoma City, it’s still cool that he now has a championship. Nike’s post-NBA Finals commercial shows all his critics…first he’s derided as soft and defensively-challenged, then when he moved to the Golden State Warriors, people called him a traitor. But now, he’s a champion, and the critics are silenced. It’s a pretty cool ad, supplemented by Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya.”

This Commercial Honors Native Americans, And Opposes The Washington Redskins Name

Sports teams using Native American/Indian names and mascots has been a divisive issue for a long time. Perhaps the most controversial use is by the Washington Redskins. In large part, it’s due to unpopular owner Dan Snyder and his absolute unwillingness to change the team name/mascot/logo. Back in January, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation of northern California made this video called “Proud To Be” about Native American heritage, featuring famous tribal nations and native people. The video ends with a pointed criticism of the Washington Redskins name. For obvious reasons, the NFL did not choose to air it during the Super Bowl. But tonight during Game 3 of the NBA Finals, a one-minute version of this video will be airing in seven major markets: Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Sacramento, San Francisco and Washington (it already aired in Miami during Game 2). Here’s the full version of “Proud To Be.”

It’s really well-done. Will it have an effect? Looking back, the last paper I wrote in college was on the Native American/Indian (the actual term is also a debate) team names. Somewhat paradoxically, I recall seeing a statistic that many more white people than natives were offended. I’m not sure it’s the same way now, because I wrote the paper six years ago, and that survey was from the late ’90s. But the tide seems to be changing. The Cleveland Indians, possibly the second-most criticized franchise on this topic, have de-emphasized the use of logo/mascot Chief Wahoo in recent years. The spot must have cost a whole lot to make, and even more to advertising in such a prime place in huge markets. One wonders how much of that money could have directly gone to help Native Americans, one of the most poverty-stricken groups in the nation. But if the point of this ad is to get us talking more about this issue, it definitely succeeds.


Nike’s Ring Commercial For LeBron

LeBron James is one of the most talented and talked-about athletes in the world. He’s long had a reputation for being great, but less effective in the clutch. His lack of a championship became an albatross. But last night, the Miami Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder to win the NBA Championship.  Minutes after the game ended, this Nike commercial premiered. It was obviously made well in advance, and there probably was a Kevin Durant one too. I didn’t see it originally (I was catching up on the DVR…), but here it is.

It’s interesting to think about how popular LeBron was 2 years ago, but his reputation was really tarnished by “The Decision.” It came across as arrogant and after that, LeBron Haterade started. It’s a little complicated for me. I’m from Ohio, where many are still bitter about LeBron leaving and will never forgive him. People actively wanted him to fail, and sneered when the Heat didn’t win the title last year. But is it time to forgive him? LeBron already acknowledged that “The Decision” was a bad decision. And since then, he’s just put up great numbers and won the MVP. I’m a Miami Heat hater, and probably will never root for them, but maybe it’s time to back off LeBron. Maybe.

As for the commercial itself…very nice work. It’s artistic, following an Akron ring maker watching highlights of LeBron’s career on an old TV. He’s working on the ring, working, working…it’s a long process. But now LeBron has won, and he’ll get that ring finally.

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