Wednesday, on the eve of the 2018 NBA Finals between James’ Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, Nike dropped a powerful new spot re-creating the story of the young basketball phenom getting his infamous “Chosen 1” back tattoo.
The commercial depicts a young man obscured from the shot walking into a tattoo parlor to request a design he had sketched on a piece of paper. The artist seems skeptical about the choice of the customer, who is then revealed to be a teenage LeBron James — with the help of some convincing CGI. His tattoo request: “Chosen 1.”
Nike reveals the spot’s underlying message in its tweet debuting the piece: “It’s one thing to put words on your back. It’s another to live up to them.” Even though the young James had been featured on the cover of a 2002 issue of Sports Illustrated with the headline “The Chosen One,” it was still a bold move for a 16-year-old to get the phrase emblazoned across his back. With James making a case for himself more and more as the greatest basketball player of all time, the tattoo that many basketball fans once viewed as arrogant and egotistical now looks prophetic.
In less than 24 hours, the poignant video had already racked up over 3 million views on YouTube. It may go down as one of Nike’s all-time great commercials.