NBA Fans Outraged-Nike Ad Mocks Jesus With Comparison to LeBron James & Exploits Black Church
A video tribute from Nike to LeBron James is causing an uproar over its mocking of Christian religious language. The video was posted to Instagram and Twitter to celebrate James becoming the NBA’s new all-time leading scorer. The black-and-white video was a highlight reel of the Los Angeles Lakers star.
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The background music and script played off Christian themes, comparing Lebron James to Jesus Christ. The narration was in the voice of a preacher,
“Do we have anyone in the building today willing to testify? Talk to me now; he’s done so much already,” the preacher in the video says. “We’ve witnessed him do so much already. We’ve heard about the things this man can do already. And we just can’t help but celebrate him. Haters, go ahead and recognize that when you speak on his name, you’re gonna go higher, higher, higher. So excuse me while I cut a step, ‘cause I can’t help but to honor him. I can’t help but to lift him up. I got one last question for ya. Can I get a witness? Can I get a witness? I said can I get a witness?”
20 years later, we are who we’ve always been – Witnesses to @KingJames never-ending greatness. 👑 #WitnessGreatness pic.twitter.com/QP9nY8RfZD
— Nike (@Nike) February 8, 2023
The ad appeared to be a revival of an old brand campaign for James during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers almost two decades ago. The campaign was entitled “WITNESS,” and according to Nike, “pays tribute to James and acknowledges the legions of fans worldwide who are ‘witnessing’ his greatness, power, athleticism and beautiful style of play.”
The 2005 campaign also did not have the religious undertones of the 2023 ad, with “witness” taking on an entirely different meaning. The injection of Christian references and comparing a basketball player to Jesus Christ did not sit well with many NBA fans.
“Blasphemy has reached an all-time high,” said one reporter from FOX4 in Kansas City. “The world we live in man…” he continued.
Blasphemy has reached an all time high https://t.co/68kfXmlwlg
— PJ Green (@PJGreenTV) February 8, 2023
“Anybody else think this is sacrilegious?” one fan asked. “Come on Nike, be better.”
Anybody else think this is sacrilegious? Come on Nike, be better
— Trent Carter (@TrentCarter25) February 8, 2023
“I’m probably in the minority for this one, but this is corny,” said another fan. “We could’ve done without the continued exploitation of Black church.”
I’m probably in the minority for this one, but this is corny. We could’ve done without the continued exploitation of Black church.
— Alex Tyree (@alexltyree) February 8, 2023
“This is blasphemous, Nike. Using praise for Jesus and applying it to a mortal man is a highest form of blasphemy.”
This is blasphemous, Nike. Using praise for Jesus and applying it to a mortal man is a highest form of blasphemy https://t.co/kqsQYgp5xg
— Fawlkee (@fawlkee) February 8, 2023
“Nike this needs to be removed. Not 2 months ago did you cut ties with Kyrie for you to put together something that many people consider religious sacrilege… Find a better way to celebrate #KingJames for he is not Him.”
Nike this needs to be removed. Not 2 months ago did you cut ties with #Kyrie for you to put together something that many people consider religious sacrilege. Keep the same enery with yourself. Find a better way to celebrate #KingJames for he is not Him.
— kyototrans (@kyototrans) February 8, 2023
Some fans were convinced that the narration was taken from an actual sermon “This sound bite is clearly from a sermon about Jesus and Nike put it on a LeBron commercial. Idolatry.”
1. This sound bite is clearly from a sermon about Jesus and @Nike put it on a LeBron commercial. Idolatry.
2. Can we not use and exploit the black church for idolatrous purposes??? https://t.co/MM5IkMonLo
— Mitchell Simmons (@mitchesimmons) February 8, 2023
Actor Alonzo Chadwick took credit for the voiceover in a tweet. He confirmed that the lyrics had not been taken from an actual sermon but were explicitly written for the Nike ad.
This was the hardest secret to keep!!! But yep it was Me preaching and the @derrickmcduffey & Kingdom Sound crew singing!!! And Portland Musicians! #Favor #Grateful #DMKS #ZoulfulMuzic #AlonzoChadwick https://t.co/cnEEiUK1m7
— Alonzo Chadwick (@alonzo_chadwick) February 8, 2023
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LeBron James has been partnered with the multi-billion dollar shoe conglomerate since leaving high school in 2003. James made $100 million off of his first endorsement deal with Nike.
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