By Barry Janoff
October 13, 2016: With the 2016-17 season about to tip off, the NBA is unveiling the latest incarnation of its multi-platform “This Is Why We Play” umbrella campaign. Initial spots break this week online, with the first ad hitting broadcast tonight (Oct. 13) on TNT during a pre-season double-header (Toronto Raptors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Clippers).
The spot, “Zeroes,” features a voiceover by Russell Westbrook, who explains how, at the beginning of a season, despite what happened the previous year, all teams have a clean slate and start with the same record.
The second launch spot, "29," features a voiceover by Kyrie Irving, who helped to lead the Cavaliers to the NBA title last season, relating how hard it was to win the championship, but that it would be at least as difficult to repeat.
"This Is Why We Play" was unveiled as the league’s global marketing mantra last season.
"Zeroes” features shots of league stars, including Stephen Curry and LeBron James, as team records from last season flash across the screen: the record-setting Golden State Warriors (73-9), NBA champion Cavaliers (57-25), San Antonio Spurs (67-15), Toronto Raptors (56-26) and even the Minnesota Timberwolves (29-53), Brooklyn Nets (21-61) and Philadelphia 76ers (10-72).
But, according to Westbrook, “You can’t live in the past. The wins and the losses. The joy. The drama. The what-ifs and should-haves. All that means zero now. We all start from zero. This is why we play.”
“29” opens with close-ups of Irving, shows the Cavs lifting the NBA title trophy, then cuts to other stars — including James Harden, Karl-Anthony Davis, Dirk Nowitzki and Aaron Gordon — on other teams who are hungry to win the championship this season.
“Winning was a challenge,” says Irving. “But repeating will be, too. Because there are 29 teams in our way again. And they’ve all come back stronger. More determined. More experienced. And ready. they won’t back down. But neither will we. This is why we play.”
The NBA said that more spots in the “This Is Why We Play” campaign will break during the season.
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