Given how long Nike's been in business with LeBron James, how much they've got invested in the shaping of his brand and how heavily they promote his achievements, it came as no surprise that the shoe giant had a slick spot all queued up and ready to air seconds after the Miami Heat finished off their Game 5 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, capping a 4-1 NBA Finals victory that marked the first championship for James, who was named the series' Most Valuable Player. But just because you're expecting something doesn't mean it can't still seem pretty freakin' fresh and cool.
Titled "The Ring Maker," the commercial's set inside a small jewelry shop, where an older man watches James from his days as a highly touted sophomore at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron. The jeweler watches James soar to thrilling heights — his first highlight dunk with the Cleveland Cavaliers, his rise to dominance against the Detroit Pistons in the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals, his first trip to the NBA Finals, playoff buzzer-beaters and MVPs — and the roadblocks he hit along the way, chief among them the Cavs' sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs and last year's six-game Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
All the while, the jeweler keeps working on a ring for James, having to go back to the drawing board as LeBron's title runs fall short. Until this year, his year, when the jeweler could finally finish his work, crafting a giant golden ring featuring James' face (accented by a diamond headband) and a big, bold version of his Nike lion's head logo.
From the description copy running alongside the clip on the Nike Basketball YouTube channel:
LeBron and the ring maker go way back to the days of Akron afros and high school dunks. When one sliced through the paint, the other carved through wax. Together, their journey has proven that even those destined for greatness have to earn it.
The narrative isn't as stark, complex or stirring as the infamous Nike ad released in an attempt to rehabilitate James' image after "The Decision" marred the public's perception of him, but it doesn't need to be. All this spot needed to do was celebrate; it certainly does that.
Might want to add another strip of diamonds to the headband, though. That thing's huge.