At the risk of sounding like Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino, though the changing times bring continual progress, it doesn’t come without a cost. Take smart phones for example: Though they offer a world of convenience, it’s at the expense of productivity, social interaction, and personal introspection. You end up better off in certain ways, arguably far worse in others.
Similarly, there’s no question DVR and YouTube make our lives better; I use both liberally. But for fans of basketball sneaker commercials — and if you’re reading this, I’m guessing that applies to you — a bit of the thrill has gone by the wayside.
Except for maybe during live sporting events, I would venture people fast-forward their way through the majority of commercial breaks. And since most companies disseminate their own marketing campaigns online anyway, the visceral thrill of being on the right channel at the right time to catch a buzzworthy commercial has been reduced to nil.
Perhaps that’s why Nike’s Air Jordan commercials are still so revered. Besides the fact that they were amazing examples of marketing genius and associated with the best player ever, the experience of having to catch them on television in order to see them is relegated to a bygone era, amplifying the nostalgia.
That said, for those of us who bridge the generational gap between the ’90s and the new millennium, LeBron James’ commercials resonate as well, even if we primarily watch them on a phone and not a television. Just like with Michael Jordan, we’ve watched James grow up not just on the court, but in his portrayals by Madison Avenue.
And though nothing compares to hunting for a new Air Jordan ad during commercials for the All-Star Game, the ripple created across social media and the Internet by Nike’s first post-Decision LeBron ad, “Rise,” was in itself a phenomenon to behold. In so many ways, King James is a superstar perfectly suited for the world as it is now; the new way we digest and discuss his commercials is an example. I honestly can’t wait to see what Nike will cook up to illustrate his inspiring return to Cleveland.
The following aren’t necessarily the best Jordan/LeBron ads — lists like that are pretty much played out, and it’s all a matter of conjecture anyway. Instead, to celebrate this weekend’s release of the Black/Metallic Silver Zoom Soldier 8 and Wolf Grey Air Jordan 3, which you’ll be able to get from Champs Sports, here are some personal favorites that to me best represent the two icons’ somewhat parallel paths to greatness.
Follow Bryan on Twitter at @SportsAngle