So naturally, Nike -- the don of all basketball gear-makers -- would pick this week to run a print campaign that features the game's two biggest stars alongside gun-related lingo. In what has to be the worst timing in the history of sports advertising, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James will appear in important national magazines casually referring to their sport, and themselves, in terms ripped from the sinister world of firearms.
That sound you heard was a million intelligent professionals slapping themselves in the forehead and wishing print media could move as fast as the internet.
But wait, it gets worse. They just had to go and accidentally use the one term most reliably associated with the long national nightmare that was Wizardsgate. FromESPN.com:
The Nike ad, inside the cover of this week's editions of ESPN The Magazine and Sports Illustrated, has LeBron James on one page and Kobe Bryant on the other. Along with the slogan, "Prepare For Combat," is a quote from each player showing how tough he is.Needless to say, this is an absolutely terrible idea, and you have to assume that if there were any way to avoid this hitting stands, it wouldn't be. No one in any position to decide anything, even what kind of ice cream they feed the dogs at NASA, would let this ad go through in this current climate. I would encourage Nike to send little kids out the intercept and destroy every issue containing these advertisements, lest its good name and its two of its most valuable brands not be, ummm, caught in the crossfire.
Bryant's blurb says: "I'll do whatever it takes to win games. I don't leave anything in the chamber."
In 2004, Kevin Garnett rattled off every weapon known to man as an expression of badness. He had to apologize, but it was so blatantly fantastic, even exhilarating, that people got over it and eventually it landed in the Hall of KG Lore:
However, only a year earlier, Kellen Winslow delivered an extended riff on how football was like war and he was a soldier. That one offended everyone. Probably because our nation was at war, and football is as American as our nation, and Winslow came off as a clueless kid confusing metaphor with reality. When, because football is so American, reality was a little too close for comfort.
Garnett? That was the NBA's best quote, known for his intensity and excess competitiveness, getting carried away in the heat of . . . wait, I can't say "battle," right? But Garnett wasn't a coroporation, was known to be a little crazy, and didn't make these statements when the last thing the league wanted was for anyone associated with it to show up in public referring to his (metaphorical) chambered rounds. Or in Kobe's case, lack thereof.
Oh, and it's worth stressing that no two players have more tightly-controlled images than Bron and Kobe. Which should also make you realize that, as recently as whenever this ad was hatched and put into motion, this level of gun-talk was considered acceptable. Now, they might as well be endorsing universal health care.