By Barry Janoff
Ocotber 7, 2015: LeBron James is on a quest to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to the promised land for the 2015-16 NBA title.
And, as in ancient times, his journey will take him through a dry, vast and unforgiving desert.
At least that's the scenario played out in spot that is part of a new umbrella campaign from Turner Sports, "Tipoff: Image," to support the start of its season-long coverage of the NBA on TNT.
James stars in the first of a series of spots, joined by teammates Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.
The campaign will also see creative starring, respectively, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Paul Pierce from the Los Angeles Clippers; James Harden and Dwight Howard from the Houston Rockets; and members of the defending NBA world champion Golden State Warriors.
In addition, each spot features a famous comedian: Mike Epps with the Cavs, Billy Crystal with the Clippers and D.J. Hughley with the Rockets.
The Cavaliers' spot breaks tonight on TBS during coverage of the MLB National League Wild Card game before going into regular rotation.
"Their 'Quest' represents ending that drought to finally bring that title to Cleveland," director Drew Watkins, who also is vp-creative director for Turner Sports, said in a "behind-the-scenes" companion video.
"It's awesome," said Irving. "The creative behind it, it makes sense for us. It's perfect. It fits with what we are trying to do."
The NBA on TNT season opens with a double-header on Oct. 27 featuring the Cavaliers at the Chicago Bulls and the New Orleans Pelicans at the Warrirors.
"Obviously, we are following every team," said Watkins. "Every quest. We shot a lot of stuff with players and coaches talking about their goals for the season. It's a big campaign, It's going to cover every team."
The behind-the-scenes video shows snippets of things to come, including shots of Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Chris Bosh, Anthony Davis and Derrick Rose.
"We are tying to bring that big-production design feel to all of the spots," said Watkins. "We want to give it a signature look.
The Clippers commercial takes place on the water; the Rockets' spot has an outdoor, mountain-climbing theme.
The Cavs spot opens with a dramatic voiceover: "This is a true story about the wills of men and the pursuit of a goal to end their city's great drought. This is their journey. This is the 'Quest.' On TNT."
The players and camels are real, but everything else is Hollywood magic. James, Irving and Love are seen in a green-screen imaged desert, searching for treasure, which turns out to be the NBA championship trophy off in the distance, gleaming in the sun.
As they get the trophy in their sights, Epps shouts, "LeBron. Kevin. Kyrie. We can't get to the top of the East on a camel! It's hot out here. Where's the air conditioning at!?"
Text offers, "Follow every Quest. Beginning Oct. 27. (See the full spot here.).
The other spots will break as the season-openers near.