LEBRON James and Kevin Durant have teamed up with other US sports stars and celebrities to promote equality in a new politically laced Nike ad released on Sunday (Monday, Manila time).
The 90-second clip titled ‘Equality,’ aired before the Grammy Awards, featured the Cleveland Cavaliers star uniting with his Golden State Warriors counterpart and fellow Nike endorsers like tennis champ Serena Williams, US women’s national team winger and LGBT advocate Megan Rapinoe, Rio Olympics 400-m hurdles champ Dalilah Muhammad and celebrities like Michael B. Jordan and Alicia Keys to send a powerful message that equality in sports should apply beyond the playing field.
“Is this the land history promised?” the ad started with a thought-provoking question, which comes in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban, before zooming out on a basketball court with James in the foreground.
“Here within these lines, on this concrete court, this patch of turf, here you’re defined by your actions, not your looks or beliefs,” Jordan continued in narrating the ad’s message. “Equality should have no boundaries.”
NFL wide receiver Victor Cruz and Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas were also featured in the ad where Nike aimed to showcase the power of sport to inspire people to take action in uniting their communities, the same way the company has partnered with other organizations like Mentor: The National Mentoring Partnership and PeacePlayers International.
According to the Nike statement, the sports apparel giant has plans to donate $5M this year to the said organizations to advance equality throughout communities in the US.
“Opportunity should not discriminate. The ball should bounce the same for everyone. Worth should outshine color,” Jordan added, while showing the sports stars and other people spray painting lines beyond the playing court in a simple yet strong message that the divide between sports and politics should no longer exist.
“We can be equals everywhere,” James ends the powerful ad.
James has never been shy in making his stand known in political issues in the past, leading his former Miami Heat teammates in donning hoodies in 2012 in the wake of the death of teen Trayvon Martin and appearing in the ESPY Awards last year with Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony to call for more athletes to be more active in calling for social justice.
“In order for us to be as great as we can be as a nation, as a world, we all have to be empowered,” he said in an interview shown in the behind-the-scenes clip of the ad. “At the end of the day, we all just try to find a way that we can all feel equal, be equal, have the same rights, have the same feelings, being able to be in the same place no matter the color.”
“It’s always a sensitive subject but at the same time it needs to be talked about. So for me to use my influence in a matter like this, it means a lot,” James added
For their part, Rapinoe and Muhammad took the opportunity to speak up for women, oddly considered a minority in the realm of sports, and inspire more equality not just in the playing field.
“Being a gay woman in this country and in the sport, wherever I am in the conversation, it’s there. It’s my responsibility of making sure that I speak up about it and speak up for other people, and hopefully grow that movement in that way,” said Rapinoe.
“Being a Muslim woman, a black woman, or just being a woman in general, we have so many things fighting against us already. So it’s just important to be that voice for someone else,” added Muhammad.