The NBA lockout might have pushed the season back by a couple of months, but just because there’s no professional basketball being played, that doesn’t mean absolutely no one’s playing. Nike’s Basketball Never Stops campaign attempts to (literally) shine a light on what happens when the professional season comes to an end and the “real” basketball devotees hit the courts.
“Spotlight,” the campaign’s debut spot created by Wieden + Kennedy Portland and Park Pictures and directed by Lance Acord, gives us a nice recap of how basketball’s biggest stars (and fans) spent their extended summer vacations—in the dark, under the glare of a lonely spotlight. The message seems to be that you can turn the lights out on pro play, but you can't snuff the passion: LeBron James played a night game in Shanghai, Kevin Durant participated in the George Goodman Summer League, and Dirk Nowitzki apparently shot hoops all by himself in a dark gymnasium. Meanwhile, ?uestlove, the gloriously afroed drummer for the Roots got some dribbles in backstage; and a group of kids played a game in a suburban cul-de-sac, under the manic spotlight of a hovering helicopter.
A second spot, “Shine” (get it?) puts the spotlight on LeBron, who is so devoted to the game that he spends his off-season nights training while everyone else goes clubbing. To the melodious tune of Frank Sinatra’s “Sleep Warm,” we watch LeBron relentlessly go through a series of nausea-inducing drills while the rest of the lazy world gets some rest.
The timely point of all this seems to be that basketball is bigger than the NBA. It’s not the league that defines the game, it’s the people—players, fans, coaches, friends. And if you can ignore the fact that a corporate sponsor is paying a bunch of already overpaid sports stars to remind us that basketball isn’t a corporate affair, it’s not such a bad message.
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Creative directors: Alberto Ponte / Ryan O'Rourke
Copywriter: Brandon Pierce
Art director: Aramis Israel
Producer: Jennifer Dennis / Dale Nicholls
Account team: Karrelle Dixon / Ryan Johnson / Dino Xu
Executive creative directors: Mark Fitzloff / Susan Hoffman
Agency executive producer: Ben Grylewicz
Production company: Park Pictures
Director/director of photography: Lance Acord
Executive producer: Mary Ann Marino / Jackie Brisbee
Line producer: Aris McGarry
Editorial: Rock Paper Scissor
VFX company: A52
Music + sound design: Music Robot Repair
Sound design: Stimmung