Do Not Answer, Lest You Reveal Yourself

New ad from LeBron, Nike, and Wieden & Kennedy:

There are so many things to like about this ad. Obviously, it's slick, so props to all the folks who conceived, wrote, shot, edited, etc.

But it's also LeBron's attitude. It's defiant and introspective without being apologetic or self-pitying. (I don't know what the fuck Dwyer is talking about, as usual when he starts moralizing about players instead of describing games. At no point in that ad does LBJ try to make anyone feel sorry for him.) It's completely aware that the audience will offer up, at best, new versions of the same thing that everyone spent the summer saying; most of them will just say the exact same things again, as demonstrated in comments sections throughout the 'tubes.

Of course, there is no answer to a rhetorical question, just as there was no right thing to do or right way to announce The Decision. There is only what was done and the way it went down. LBJ is no more defined by a single act than any of us. This isn't about second acts or making amends or cleaning slates. If we're doing it right, we are each of us inventing ourselves in every moment. Reflecting upon the past isn't about fixing it; it's about creating new paths into the future. Depicting all of the things that might have been isn't about those things; it's about imagining all of the things that might be. It's not an ad about the what could have been; it's a conjuring of possibility and a contemplation of how those possibilities might unfold.

And so, to answer Shoals, I don't think that saying at the end, "Should I be what you want me to be," is removing LeBron from the equation or blaming the viewer. The viewer in this ad is almost irrelevant, because he's not really addressing the viewer. He's ultimately addressing himself in the form of a viewer and asking who he wants to be. Thus, the implication isn't that the viewer is to blame for what happened, because the ad doesn't concede that anything blameworthy occurred. The implication of the question is that, having reviewed the possibilities of the past, the interlocutor now has clearer vision of both himself and of the possibilities of the future. The question is a hook.

Two other things that I really like about the ad. First, it's the evolved version of The LeBrons. In those ads, LBJ displayed different facets of himself. That continues in the new ad, articulated through each of the "careers" displayed: actor, poet, cowboy villain, construction worker. I'm kind of fascinated by the continuing theme of LeBron as unfinished product still figuring out himself as he figures out the game.

Second, I think there's a sly implication of the notorious tweet, "Don't think for one min that I haven't been taking mental notes of everyone taking shots at me this summer. And I mean everyone!" There was a lot of speculation about what he meant. Apparently, at least one thing he meant was that he was going judo a lot of the comments in this ad. Plus, the dig at Barkley is classic.

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