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Date archive for: August 2012

The Fountain of Youth, NBA Style

What if a particular type of excellence could be captured and preserved for generations to come?  THIS is where the best are remembered.  In the prime of their lives.  At the height of their powers, shoulder to shoulder with those who define an era.

The triumphant and condensed return of the 2012 NBA season brought with it not just great back-to-back games almost every night of the week, it also gave us some of the best basketball commercials/intros that I can remember watching.

One of the most memorable, was an Idris Elba narrated special which took me forever to find (seriously, who is Idris Elba—besides an incredible voice for narrating with an ridiculously difficult name to remember?).

Juxtaposing great narrative about the fountain of youth alongside highlights of the NBA and many of its historical figures during regular season play, as well as during past all-star games, this commercial creates an inspiring fusion of story and visual imagery which is accentuated by the apropos voice of Idris Elba.

And it’s not just the players or the plays which makes this a great promo.  The fact that the creators opted to include the sounds of the fans and great commentators calling the plays in real-time, such as the great Ralph Lawler, only adds to the reasons why I wanted to make sure I bookmarked this video in my humble blog.

Heck, even the music was perfectly selected to augment the crescendo of incredible plays in a way that sends tingling down our spines.

As the 2012-13 NBA season approaches, I hope to be able to keep better track of inspiring and successful ads.  Luckily the NBA and the brands surrounding it have always delivered on that front.

Yet, the fascination still remains.


Steve Nash Happy To Be Part of the Lakers

While the arrival of Dwight Howard took the cake for biggest off-season move the Lakers made, this is still the most shocking to me:  Steve Nash as a Laker.

Given Nash’s classy disposition, it’s nice to finally see him rewarded with a championship caliber team, albeit the team that so painfully tortured his Suns for so many years.

Steve Nash at the Lakers practice facility.
Steve Nash at the Lakers practice facility.

Nike Lebron X: A New Standard in High End Basketball Shoes

New Nike Lebron X
The Lebron X: a new standard in high-end basketball shoes.

The allure of having the newest, most expensive, basketball sneakers on the playground is an addiction that can possibly only be understood by women who buy ultra expensive handbags.

Buying handbags, of course, doesn’t make sense to me.  Most of the time I consider them ugly and a complete waste of money that could be carried inside of a much better, lesser expensive handbag.  But what we don’t get is the lack of feel-good feelings those handbags produce for their owners.  Though we try to understand, the emotional rewards of rocking a Fendi (or a more expensive, uglier handbag whose brand I don’t know) supersede our most common logic.

Basketball shoes, on the other hand, well, that’s a luxury I understand.  A luxury whose sustainability, to this day, confounds me:  how was it possible that all of the kids in my childhood could always show up rocking the newest Jordans, when I knew for a fact that most of their families struggled paycheck to paycheck? 

The obsession with cool is an incredible driving force, especially for the youth.  Companies capitalize on this sentiment all the time, especially the sneaker industry.

Nike and the Jordan brand have particularly been excellent at exacting exorbitant amounts of dollars from the pockets of urban youth who somehow continue to come up with the funds shoe in and shoe out.

The newest iteration of cool is the Nike Lebron X brand of shoes coming in at a whopping $315 per pair.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Nike is merely adjusting its price points to reflect increased costs of material, labor and transportation.

Nike, based in Beaverton, Ore., says it is passing along price increases because many of key materials, such as cotton, have risen in price over the past 18 months. Prices did moderate somewhat in the past quarter.

Nike also faces rising labor costs in China, where it manufactures a third of its products.

The economics of production notwithstanding, $315 is a ridiculously excessive price point for goods that are still manufactured at an incredibly low cost.  There is no justifiable reason why any pair of shoes should amount to levels approaching poverty line income—not even because of its highly touted new technology which seeks to justify it:

The coming $315 LeBron X Nike Plus, due in the fall, is expected to come embedded with motion sensors that can measure how high players jump.

When did it become a necessity for anyone to sport a shoe that seeks to confirm the reality that one cannot dunk?  When I was a kid we would get that feedback for free, if not from the reality of gravity, then from our friends who would gladly dish it out with a side of trash talk.

Nike will of course succeed in leveraging the sentiment of cool backed by the superstar power of Lebron James.  Kids, after all, aren’t looking at shoes just for fashion, at least I don’t think so.  A good pair of shoes always came with the inherent promise of greatness, and in that sense, the sneakers superstars wear come with a side of hope which I guess Nikes has found how to measure in economic terms.

Serge Ibaka Agrees to Multi-Year Deal with Thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder Core:  Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka & Russell Westbrook
The new Oklahoma City core includes Ibaka and not Harden.

In a move that solidifies a damn good core of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook & Serge Ibaka, the Oklahoma City Thunder have re-signed the big man to an additional four years according to ESPN.

The move has implications that extend beyond the ability to retain U.S. Gold Medal Winner, James Harden after having committed much of their salary budget to Westbrook, Durant & Ibaka.

Having a legitimate big man has become an absolute necessity given the recent arrival of the biggest one of them all, Dwight Howard, to the Los Angeles Lakers.  Without a center-piece to complement the outside shooting capabilities of Durant and Westbrook, and in spite of their youthful exuberance, the Oklahoma City Thunder risk regressing into the shadows of the veteran teams of the west, once again.

But what of James Harden?  According to Sam Presti, General Manager of OKC:

We’re going to continue our conversations with James. We very much value him.  We want him to be a part of our organization moving forward. We’re excited that he’s a member of the Thunder and we’re hopeful that he’ll be with us for years moving forward.

In an ideal world, the core of four would remain intact.  Harden played an invaluable role last season, leading the Thunder off the bench and helping to their first NBA Finals where he seemingly shrunk from the moment and may have cost him perceived value.

Although losing Harden is a tremendous blow to a promising young core, given the financial limitations that make the reality of Harden leaving, the Thunder have invested in the right man. It’s easier to find shooters/scorers, and much more difficult to land an athletic, young and hungry big man to back up two All-Stars.

For his part, Serge expressed joy at having the opportunity to play in OKC once again.

Details of the contract aren’t fully available, but according to ESPN:

…a league source confirmed to ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard that the deal is for four additional years and $48 million.

Updated (7:47 p.m., 8/20):

According to HoopsHype, Ibaka’s deal could be worth up to $51.5M:

Serge Ibaka‘s new deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder is for $49 million guaranteed and could go up to $51.5 million if certain individual and team goals are met, HoopsHype has learned. Ibaka will make at least $12.25 million each of the four years of his contract.


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