Nike Goes to the Videotape for a Great Salute to Los Angeles Laker LeBron James

Archival footage dates back to 2003

Nike continues to ride the wave of the 30th anniversary of "Just Do It" with a new salute to longtime endorser LeBron James, on the occasion of his own milestone—the 33-year-old's debut for the Los Angeles Lakers. 

The spot uses a tactic that's become popular lately—digging up archival footage of the athlete saying precocious things before they did anything in the pros. It's an approach that's worked particularly well with Serena Williams, actually—Nike did a spot this year showing her father Richard Williams coaching her when she was 9, and Gatorade did something similar a few years back. 

In LeBron's case, we're suddenly back in 2003 and Cleveland has won the top pick in the NBA Draft Lottery. The kid from Akron is facing the cameras, claiming he doesn't feel any added pressure to deliver. 

See the spot here: 

LeBron James - I Believe

"It hasn't kicked in yet, to what I'm getting myself into," a preternaturally calm and collected 18-year-old says in the footage. "I'm not going to guarantee no championship, I'll tell you that. I just hope that they accept me for who I am as a basketball player, especially as a person. I know how to be a leader. It's just a long term—I always tell y'all that—this was one of the long term dreams that I've always had. That's just playing in the NBA."

Of course, he didn't win a championship with Cleveland during his first stint there, but did during his second, after winning two other titles with Miami. Throw in four NBA MVP awards and an NBA scoring title, and it's clear James has done plenty more than just play in the NBA—which is what makes the old videotape so fun to watch. 

"It's only crazy until you do it," says the onscreen line. "Just do it." 

LeBron's arrival in L.A. has been one of the big sports stories of the year, though it hasn't quite gone as planned so far. The Lakers have dropped their first two games, losing in Portland on Thursday and at home to Houston on Saturday. They face San Antonio at the Staples Center on Monday night. 

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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