Nike Just Made This Remarkable Farewell Ad to Kobe Bryant in China, Where He’s Revered

The retiring star even helped with the script

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Love him or hate him, Kobe Bryant is a legend.

In China, they mostly love him—he's made a concerted effort, with Nike, to reach out to his Chinese fans over the past decade. And the Chinese have responded with adulation all but unmatched for American sports stars.

Now, with Bryant's last game fast approaching, Nike and Wieden + Kennedy Shanghai have created a stirring 60-second tribute commercial. And it's all about that love—which Bryant says might actually be a bit misguided.

"Kobe has an intimate relationship with the Chinese ballers, so he knows exactly how to teach and motivate them," says Terence Leong, creative director of W+K Shanghai. "Together with Nike China and Kobe, our team crafted the script and made sure the film was just as provocative as the man himself. It was an intense and uncompromising process because Kobe was just as demanding on the creative team as he was on the Lakers."

W+K creative director Azsa West adds: "[Kobe] chose to focus on becoming a legend rather than being a hero. When it comes to winning, Kobe is willing to push himself to risk everything. Because standing back and doing nothing, that's real failure. This philosophy is very Nike 'Just do it,' and Kobe is the perfect person to deliver this spirit of Nike."

Client: Nike
Campaign: "Kobe Last Season"
Spot: "Don't Love Me, Hate Me"
Launch Date: 7 April 2016

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Shanghai
Executive Creative Director: Yang Yeo
Creative Directors: Terence Leong, Azsa West
Copywriters: Nick Finney, Wei Liu
Senior Art Director: Shaun Sundholm
Senior Designers: Patrick Rockwell, Will Dai
Integrated Production Director: Angie Wong
Assistant Producers: Yuan Fang, Jiji Hu
Offline Editor: Hiro Ikematsu
Business Director: Dino Xu
Associate Account Director: Jim Zhou
Account Executive: Shawn Kai
Senior Planner: Paula Bloodworth
Digital Strategist: Bill Tang
Project Manager: Nicole Bee
Business Affairs: Jessica Deng, Kathy Zhan

Production Companies: Elastic TV; Lunar Films
Director: Biff Butler
Line Producer: Kelly Christensen
Director of Photography: Rachel Morrison
Executive Producer (Elastic): Belinda Blacklock
Managing Director (Elastic): Jennifer Sofio Hall
Executive Producer (Lunar): Ken Yap
Post Producer (Lunar): Jeff Tannebring

Editing: Rock Paper Scissors
Editors: Biff Butler, Alyssa Oh
Post Producer: Christopher Noviello
Executive Producers: Angela Dorian, Linda Carlson

Postproduction: a52
2-D Visual Effects Artists: Michael Vaglienty, Adam Flynn
Smoke Artist: Chris Riley
Conform: Gabe Sanchez
Rotoscope Artists: Tiffany German, Cathy Shaw, Robert Shaw
Colorist: Paul Yacono
Design: Pete Sickbert-Bennett
2-D, 3-D Animation: David Do, Steven Do, Claudia De Leon, Sam Cividanis
Senior Color Producer: Jenny Bright
Producer: Drew Rissman
Head of Production: Kim Christensen
Deputy Head of Production: Carol Salek
Executive Producer: Patrick Nugent

Original Music, Sound Design, Mix: Lime Studios
Original Music: Andy Huckvale
Mixer: Zac Fisher
Assistant Mixer: Kevin McAlpine
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.