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October 7, 2015

Nike's 'Rise' Ad: LeBron James Plays Tubbs to Don Johnson's Crockett

by Jane Murphy, posted Oct 28th 2010 1:35PM
"What should I do?" asks basketball superstar LeBron James, in a new Nike ad that reviews the last few months of his turbulent move from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat. The 90-second ad, 'Rise', came to light Monday via Twitter, when King James directed his followers to YouTube.

Arguably, the highlight of the ad, which had its TV premiere Tuesday during TNT's broadcast of the Heat vs. Celtics game, is the appearance of Miami's former king. Decked out in his baby blue v-neck and white linen suit, it's none other than Don Johnson.

Contemplating life now that he's become something of a a controversial figure, LeBron wonders if his next move should be acting. Cut to the 'Miami Vice' title card, followed by Johnson and James on a gleaming Miami street. "Gotta deal with the heat, man ..." Johnson rasps to James, "After a while the temperature drops. Then everything is free and easy."

The hard-nosed, fraught dialogue and pastel duds (LeBron is dapper in ... is that electric mauve?) perfectly evokes the NBC hit, which ran from 1984 to '89. What's also eye-opening is how Johnson looks to have barely aged in the last 20 years. Between this Nike gig and his turn in Robert Rodriguez's 'Machete', it seems like Johnson's ready to smolder and brood again. Wouldn't it be cool to see him doing something -- anything -- on 'True Blood' or 'Breaking Bad'?

When TV Squad looked into the genesis of the commercial, Derek Kent, Nike's U.S. media relations director, only said, "Nike, LeBron and [ad agency] Wieden + Kennedy all worked extremely closely together on the spot".

'Rise' director Stacy Wall had teamed with LeBron before on a 2005 Nike shoot. But no word on who came up with the idea to revive 'Vice.' When 'Miami Vice' went off the air, LeBron was a preschooler.

James certainly doesn't want his post-Cleveland career to go the way of Philip Michael Thomas's post-Miami career. The original Tubbs (Oscar winner Jamie Foxx played Tubbs in the 2006 movie) Thomas never parlayed 'Vice' success into enduring fame. Thomas did guest star twice on Johnson's 'Nash Bridges'. And we wonder if PMT gets any kind of residuals from '30 Rock' -- Vanity Fair reported Thomas was the originator of the EGOT ('Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony') medallion back in the '80s, providing the inspiration for Tracy Jordan's weighty bling.

The full 90-second Nike 'Rise' ad can be seen below.

Nike 'Rise'

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