The Best Basketball Shoe Commercials of the Past Decade
The NBA lockout is in full swing, and there really isn’t much going on in the world of the NBA right now, so I decided to reflect on some of our favorite basketball shoe commercials of the past decade.
By no means do I consider myself a "sneaker head" at all, but I can appreciate creativity, analogies and presentation styles in these commercials (I would make my high school lit teachers so proud).
These aren’t the "universal" best commercials that have been put out, but rather a list of my favorites while growing up over the past decade. There are a number of players I really like and a fair share that I really don’t in these, but I tried not to have that bias the order of this.
I’m sure that there are probably a couple of commercials I left out as well that are more than deserving, but these are the ones I best recall from the given time period.
That said, SwishScout.com presents “The Best Basketball Shoe Commercials of the Past Decade.”
20. Duet to You (Nike)
Remembering the good old days of the early 2000s, when Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson were up-and-coming youngsters in the league who flashed potential for the ever-struggling Clippers.
They tag-teamed for that franchise and became best buds, christening the "head bump" you can see some use as a throwback in pickup games.
Neither quite panned out as hoped (for one reason or another), but the two youngsters combining to dominate with the late Guru from Gang Starr spitting rhymes in the background makes for a quality 30-second spot, no matter how goofy it was in retrospect.
19. Italian (Nike)
Kobe Bryant had some nice commercials when he was coming up in the league for adidas, and this is one of them. Basketball is a universal language, and there is no language barrier for Bryant in Italy, where he grew up, learned the language and refined his game.
Even overseas in an Italian gym, Kobe is still king of the court; on that thought, it may be very ironic if he actually ends up playing over there during the lockout.
18. AI (Reebok)
There was no player in the league hotter than Allen Iverson in the early 2000s, when he was leading the NBA in scoring and the 76ers to the finals.
He developed a rep as one of the tougher guards in the league who could flat-out dominate as a one-man team and was "cool" because of it.
Jadakiss does a nice job putting some rhymes to Iverson’s street-savvy game in the commercial.
17. Hear Us Coming (Under Armour)
It’s short and simple, yet efficient and effective. This came out shortly after Inception hit the scene, and the commercial uses one of the main scores from the movie to add dramatic effect.
Under Armour is building a rep in the NBA and becoming a much bigger brand by the year, so it is coming.
I like to say Kevin Love was the best high school player I’ve seen throughout anyone’s four years, but Brandon Jennings was the best high school player I ever saw through four games, and he is a good face for the up-and-coming brand.
16. Bored (Adidas)
Who hasn’t been bored and just dreamed of playing ball in any way possible, even if it was just with your surroundings?
He’s not my favorite, but this commercial captures the enthusiasm, eagerness and enjoyment of Bryant in an everyday setting just itching to get back on the court.
I’m sure we can all empathize, and if nothing else, the commercial taught me how to throw the ball behind my head and through my legs (at 20 seconds) when I was growing up.
15. Blitzen Rap (Nike)
One of the more creative ads in recent memory during the Christmas season, where Blitzen and the reindeer challenge Kobe, LeBron James and Santa to a pickup game.
Enjoyable mix of the puppetry, throwback rhymes from older rap songs and creative story line—a classic, humorous holiday basketball commercial that captures the Christmas basketball spirit, more or less.
14. Fast Don’t Lie (adidas)
Derrick Rose is by far one of the best athletes and fastest players in the league with his explosive "above the rim" game.
The concept of being filthy rich because you’re fast in the commercial is entertaining, and Ken Jeong pulls it off just about as ludicrous and freaky as you can—“freaky like my lady pyramid,” that is!
13. Brand New Day (Nike)
Once upon a time, Vince Carter was a beast in the league who posterized anyone who dare challenge him at the rim.
This commercial captures the essence of basketball transcending everyday life and just carrying that passion over to a make-believe perfect day.
Very original rendering that shows off some of VC’s dance moves as well, assuming that’s actually him (probably not).
12. Chosen One (Nike)
One of LeBron’s first commercials after signing the monster deal with Nike, it was an instant classic, featuring the late Bernie Mac.
Emerging from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School as the "Chosen One," the expectations for LBJ were very high...and not much has changed.
It's an homage of sorts to the Blues Brothers film (3:50), with the "spirit of the game" granting amazing powers and B-ball skills to the disciples of the game.
11. The Myth (Adidas)
Sometimes people can skew and bend the truth when telling a story when it comes to the amazing, and this is a classic example of that.
Attempting to retell the epic "13 points in 35 seconds" that Tracy McGrady pulled off against San Antonio, this commercial attempts to make light of it and throws the cliché book at it.
Tracy used to have one of the hottest hands in the league when he was on, and I will never forgive myself for letting my friend convince me to change the channel minutes before this "mythical" performance even when it looked like it was in the books.
10. The Second Coming (Nike)
A star-studded cast featuring LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Chris Paul, Amar'e Stoudemire, Paul Pierce, Shawn Marion, Tony Parker, Jermaine O’Neal and Rasheed Wallace battle it out on the court in an airplane hangar.
The second coming features an inspiring take on the some of the league's best sporting the "Air Force" on its 25th anniversary.
Although Juelz Santana is one of the weakest lyricists around, it's an entertaining ad featuring a fitting song that captures the intensity and competitiveness of the best.
9. Chalk (Nike)
This commercial was huge a few years ago, and while I never got into it as much as everyone else did (mainly because chalk throwing was Michael Jordan and Kevin Garnett’s thing first), it’s a good ad.
It transcended the court into the Cleveland community and basketball fans everywhere with LBJ’s enthusiasm for the game.
It features cameos from LaMarcus Aldridge, Lil Wayne and Jaime Nared, an Oregon girl who got national attention and has serious game but was barred from playing with boys because she was too good.
8. Nightmare (Nike)
No doubt that Dwyane Wade is an absolute monster on the court, but this takes it to a whole other level and is original with it.
This brings to life the "monstrification" of Wade on the court and gives us a view of what his competitors see as he strikes fear in them with his game.
Although I doubt any NBA player sees him this way, it gets major creativity points.
7. Hyperize (Nike)
Who doesn’t enjoy bad throwback hip-hop videos? This one makes good humor of the genre with Kevin Durant, Mo Williams, Andre Iguodala and Rashard Lewis having fun laying down some lines and mocking the lifestyle in a fun commercial.
Debatable whether or not Mo Williams was worth the first overall pick or Lewis is worth $118 million over six years, but this commercial is worth two-and-a-half minutes of your time if you’re a big NBA fan.
6. Dr. Funk (Nike)
Rucker Park is a legendary street ball venue right in the basketball Mecca of New York City.
This commercial is a play of an epic street ball performance by Dr. Funk, aka Vince Carter, aka Vinsanity, aka Half-Man, Half-Amazing taking over the game in a 1975 flashback.
Vince certainly never did anything quite like this on the big stage on an NBA court, but he make a big leap that kept the 7’2” Knicks' 15th overall 1999 pick out of the league.
5. Lessons (Adidas)
When high schoolers were flooding the league before the age limit was instituted, T-Mac was a two-time league scoring leader and versatile "go-to" player.
His game looked diverse yet effortless on the court, and he held an offensive clinic on a nightly basis in the league.
He has slowed down considerably since then but still remains my favorite NBA player because of his cool confidence, epic performances and off the court humanities.
4. 9.8 (Adidas)
It’s a relatively new commercial, but it’s a great one that makes fantastic use of Derrick Rose’s Chicago roots coming up in gritty roots of the south side.
It shows off Rose’s game and where he comes from, capturing the pride of his MVP game as a symbol for Chicago.
Big Sean’s "I Do It" is a perfect complement to the attitude of the commercial and exemplifies confidence in the shoe being lightweight and revolutionary.
3. What Do I Do? (Nike)
Everyone knows this commercial, but clearly not everyone (especially in Cleveland) was a fan of it.
It’s a brilliant spot that brings to life LeBron's mind frame and the ramifications and consequences of his decision on the basketball world.
Hate it or love it, it was an instant classic when it was released.
2. Let Your Game Speak (Nike)
Sometimes your game can speak louder than words ever could, and what kid who grew up in the '90s didn’t dream of being Michael Jordan?
This recreates all of Jordan’s finest on-court moments and quirks to a T with younger kids and likely admirers of his game.
I don’t know that any other one ad successfully captures the childhood imagination of growing up to be just like your favorite sports star.
1. Freestyle (Nike)
Baron Davis, Darius Miles, Lamar Odom, Rasheed Wallace, Vince Carter, Jason Williams and Paul Pierce all make appearances in this iconic commercial that was hot from the start.
It’s still a very recognizable and entertaining piece almost a decade later. I can remember trying or seeing someone try almost every single one of those moves at one time or another.
I would love to see an updated version of this concept with some of today's NBA stars and Nike signees after the lockout is resolved.