Menu

Year-End Awards: Best Creative

By Terry Lefton

Best Creative: NBA Lane

Dirk Nowitzki, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LeBron James, Bill Russell and Kevin Durant (clockwise from top left) fit right into the star-studded neighborhood.courtesy of nba

The recipe for a campaign commemorating the NBA’s 75th anniversary? More than 30 instantly recognizable players, many of them Basketball Hall of Famers, and a collection of NBA team mascots all residing in a fictional neighborhood where they live, dribble, and dunk in harmony.

Magic and Larry. Russell and Kareem. Dr. J and the “Big O.” All are among the retired hoops heroes in the ad, but there are also active stars, including Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Zion Williamson and Trae Young.

Among the countless NBA insider references in the film: Friendly rivals Magic Johnson and Larry Bird live at 32 and 33 NBA Lane, respectively, representing their uniform numbers. Oscar Robertson’s home address is 181 NBA Lane — a tribute to the number of triple-doubles he achieved.  

Just as interesting as those cast in the ad are the marquee NBA players who didn’t make it, including Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller and Shaquille O’Neal. The most noticeable absence is Michael Jordan, though there is a Michael Jordan: actor Michael B. Jordan, who had a starring role as the narrator and school bus driver on NBA Lane. 

6.3 million

Views for the ad on the NBA’s Oct. 7 tweet that debuted the spot.

The idea of packing as many legends of a league as possible into one commercial is a familiar — and successful — conceit, one used to great effect by the NFL’s Super Bowl commercial that debuted in 2019 in honor of its 100th season. Like “NBA Lane,” that spot won our Best Creative award, but the NBA’s version had to contend with the pandemic and took the concept from a single location — a ballroom — to an entire neighborhood. 

“NBA Lane is a place where current players, legends and fans all live together,” Kate Jhaveri, chief marketing officer of the NBA, said recently. “It’s fiction, but it feels real. It speaks not just to the past but also to the present of the game.”

The league created 30- and 60-second spots for the ad, which was created along with Translation LLC and directed by Rick Famuyiwa and Emmett Malloy. It made its TV debut on Oct. 10, but the ad first went out on the NBA’s Twitter account three days before that and has since racked up 6.3 million views.

The next iteration of the ad dropped on Dec. 11, with “Family Day on NBA Lane,” narrated by Anthony Anderson and featuring a cameo from Billy Crystal. Naturally, it also features former stars like Dominique Wilkins and Robert Parish, all gathered around a holiday dinner to enjoy the NBA’s feast of games on Christmas Day.

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: June 24, 2022

Excel Sports scores at NBA Draft; Breaking down year one of the USFL; DP World Tour finally states its LIV Golf policy and big names in sports invest in Jackpot.

SBJ Unpacks: Thaddeus Young, NBA forward and venture capitalist

SBJ's Austin Karp posted up with NBA power forward Thaddeus Young. The 15-year veteran discussed his venture capital strategy, his investment in technology and much more.

SBJ Spotlight: Predicting which U.S. cities will host World Cup matches

SBJ Facilities Writer Bret McCormick and Soccer Writer Alex Silverman say five U.S. cities are locks to host World Cup matches in 2026. But they have different ideas when it comes to the rest of the field.

Shareable URL copied to clipboard!

https://sbjcd02.centralus.cloudapp.azure.com/Journal/Issues/2021/12/20/Year-in-Review/Creative.aspx

Sorry, something went wrong with the copy but here is the link for you.

https://sbjcd02.centralus.cloudapp.azure.com/Journal/Issues/2021/12/20/Year-in-Review/Creative.aspx

CLOSE
;