American basketball star LeBron James, who controversially walked out of the Cleveland Cavaliers at the end of the 2009-10 NBA season, has recently tweeted his new Nike commercial, titled “Rise.” The commercial has been welcomed by both fans and haters, resulting in more positive feedback than anything else James has done since winning his second MVP award.
In more cases than not, the Twitter-public have expressed their love for the 90 second commercial, with Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon both calling it “brilliant” on Pardon the Interruption. In addition to this, the Internet has gone crazy, praising it as the first positive step in the rehabilitation of LeBron’s tarnished image.
“Rise” is definitely another example of Nike grasping the nuance behind a sponsor’s public image. In 90 seconds, the commercial manages to touch on LeBron’s now infamous decision to leave his hometown, the fallout, the betrayal felt by fans in Cleveland, the criticisms he took from, amongst others, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, his new role as the NBA’s bad guy, the attacks on LeBron’s “handlers” this season, his infamous “mental notes,” and the drop in his celebrity value. It is impressively comprehensive for just a single 90 second commercial.
Furthermore, the commercial also includes the new Nike Air Max LeBron VIII shoes, albeit in a sly, self-deprecating way when LeBron playfully says,
“Wanna see my shiny new shoes? Should I just sell shoes?”
The commercial also intends to get a laugh out of the viewer, with both broad and subtle forms of humor, ranging from Don Johnson’s cameo as LeBron’s co-star in a hypothetical Miami Vice remake, to LeBron standing in front of an empty Hall of Fame banquet muttering, “So, this went well…”, in an allusion to Jordan’s disastrous 2009 Hall of Fame speech. The commercial finishes with LeBron asking, “Should I be who you want me to be?” in an attempt to point to the so-called, ‘unfair’ demands of his fans.
While some parts of the commercial are incisive and arguably unnecessary, in particular the cheap-shots at Jordan and Barkley, overall the commercial is very impressive, especially when considering how hopelessly pathetic LeBron’s current situation is.