With the NBA postseason nearly upon us, it's time to sort out stars' legacies. While various statistical milestones and awards confer legitimacy on careers, championships tend to carry the most prestige of all. If a great player retires without a ring, he's going to be diminished in the eyes of many fans and basketball lifers.
This phenomenon just happens to be the subject of the newest ad from Foot Locker. In this 30-second spot, Portland Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard talks about picking up new Adidas gear at Foot Locker — maybe because he just signed a giant contract with the shoe and apparel giant — and says that he doesn't want to end up like "one of those guys that never won a ring." Unfortunately, Lillard seems to have forgotten that he invited ring-less NFL legends Barry Sanders and LaDainian Tomlinson to his house to watch the game. And when he tries to cover for himself, he ends up offending retired NBA stars Chris Webber and Karl Malone in the process. Check it out below:
As with most of Foot Locker's ads, the goal here isn't to argue for the product as much as to align the brand with a certain sort of knowing humor. In past spots featuring James Harden, Stephen Curry, and Anthony Davis, the strategy has seemingly been to trade on these young players' image as exciting future stars. In the process, the athletes have also been given some more attention. The same goes here for Lillard.
The difference here, I suppose, is that Adidas has now made a massive investment — potentially $100 million over 10 years — in Lillard's ability to become a high-profile national pitchman. As such, we're likely to see more such spots involving Lillard soon, at least until he becomes a big enough name to carry a commercial without the help of more established, older athletes. This ad isn't just a funny clip — it could be the point at which Lillard becomes a more national presence.
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