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Video: As usual Nike is better at messaging than their players

Oct 29, 2011, 7:00 PM EDT

Nike needs the players. It really does. It can’t just market anyone. It has to market the elite guys, the ones with personality. It discovered with Michael Jordan (who we’ll get to in a minute) that the player is what can sell the most in basketball, versus the NFL and MLB which are hugely team-based. Superstars have driven this league, but what’s missed is the personal connection fans form with their team’s favorite players. It’s not just Carmelo and Kobe and Dirk. It’s the role players, the guys they take on as their own.

And somewhere in that is the idea that basketball is more than a moneymaker. It’s a culture, a connection. Which Nike then packages and markets to make money, the same way the NBA does. But if you were looking for the perfect way to make an argument that the players are the product, that they are what makes up basketball in this country, and that the sport goes on with or without the NBA, you couldn’t do much better than this latest commercial from Nike in the “Basketball Never Stops” series.

Do you ever wonder why the players don’t just have Nike negotiate for them? Yes, it would jeopardize Nike’s relationship with the NBA, but the NBA needs Nike’s money just as much. And with the investment Nike has in the game and the players, they would at once protect their clients and pursue a decent compromise. If nothing else, they should be handling the players’ imaging, because the players are terrible at it. The video’s ability to show people care about the players playing basketball, not just the game itself. It promotes the commitment of players to the game and a love for it, even when it’s used to make money. It’s just marketing, it’s just exceptionally good marketing.

Speaking of Michael Jordan, it should be noted here that Nike’s Jordan Brand is involved in this program. This, despite Jordan himself being part of the ownership calling for the changes which keeps the lockout going. At some point you’d think the league would have an issue with one of its owners making money off of the propaganda of the other side directly in opposition to their position. It’s complicated, but then, its’ not really. No one’s crossing Jordan. Which makes Jordan’s alignment with the owners that much more depressing. Then again, Jordan looking out for ol’ No.1 is nothing new, either.

  1. hail2tharedskins - Oct 29, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    Nike and the owners interets are aligned. Both make money off of the players and both have a vested interest in keeping the fans from revolting against the players. That commercial in no way undermines the owners’ position, in fact in a way I think it puts more pressure on the players. The commercial helps drum up excitement (which is good for the NBA when the games eventually return), but even know it can drum up excitement amongst players nudging them to end this dispute and get back on the court and it can also drum up excitement amongst fans who nudge the players to get back on the court. I’m not sure how you ever got the idea that NBA and Nike had divulging interests, but their interests have always been aligned and this video (in my opinion) pots way more pressure on players than it does owners (specifically because it puts no pressure on owners) and it helps prevents the NBA brand or its players from losing all marketing contact with the public (this was essential a marketing piece for the NBA, specifically the game of basketball but lets be honest in America the game of basketball and the NBA are synonymis)

    • vnhorn - Oct 31, 2011 at 1:12 AM

      Nope, definitely positive imaging for the players. I actually saw this commercial while watching football today and at first thought it was a PR piece put together by the union, especially with the spotlight on the players which seemed (to me at least) to point out that the players are what people are watching and really the reason for the success of the NBA.

  2. goforthanddie - Oct 29, 2011 at 9:35 PM

    Totally off-topic…
    Why do people insist on calling Carmelo Anthony “elite”?

    • marcusfitzhugh - Oct 30, 2011 at 1:45 AM

      He was the third overall pick in the 2003 draft (everyone agrees he should have gone before Darko – can you imagine the ’04 Detroit team with Melo too?)
      Melo set the Nuggets franchise record for most points scored by a rookie.
      The year before he arrived Denver was 17-65. His first year there Denver went to the playoffs with a 43-39 record.
      Third youngest NBA player to score 2,000 points.
      Second youngest NBA player to score 5,000 points.
      Tied the NBA record (with George Gervin) for the most points scored in a single quarter.
      A career 25 and 6 regular season player, and a 25 and 7 playoff player
      Four time NBA All Star

      Speaking of All Starts, he did start for the west in the last two All Star games. NBA All Star game starters are considered “better than average”, right? Can you name five small forwards who are better? Not “used to be better”, but are “currently” better. The top five small forwards in the league are “elite”, right?

      • goforthanddie - Oct 30, 2011 at 3:34 PM

        What I see you posting is scoring stats. Great, he can shoot a lot. Does he rebound? Assists? Defense? (Not being an ass, I just don’t feel like looking into it, he isn’t that important to me.)

        “The top five small forwards in the league are “elite”, right?”
        No. Elite isn’t judged by position. Just because someone is one of the better players at his position doesn’t convey “elite” status. By your measure, there would always be 25 “elite players” in the NBA. Someone could become elite because someone else retired. Doesn’t work that way.

      • jrhall888 - Oct 31, 2011 at 12:44 AM

        All stars are not necessarily chosen because they’re the best at that time or best at their positions. There’s a lot of hype involved, and the fans (most of whom have no clue, and just vote based on favoritism) vote the starting players. Melo is way overrated.

  3. ilovefoolsball - Oct 30, 2011 at 1:02 AM

    Let the lockout continue, fine by me :)

  4. flyerscup2010 - Oct 30, 2011 at 4:45 AM

    these owners are clowns

  5. jrhall888 - Oct 31, 2011 at 12:42 AM

    The one simple reason Nike shouldn’t be negotiating for the players is that NIke has Nike’s interests in mind. Any coincidence in like interests shouldn’t be misconstrued as to where Nike’s interests are.

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