Throwback Thursday: LeBron James “Chalk” Commercial (2008)


By: Drew Hammell

In the Fall of 2008, the City of Cleveland was still hopeful.  There was heartbreak a season earlier when the Cavs lost in seven to the Celtics in the Conference Semifinals. The Kid from Akron was still hungry though. Winning was becoming expected, and championships were on the horizon.

LeBron James was famous for his pregame chalk toss, so Nike created an ad campaign around The King’s free-spirit approach to the game to promote the Zoom LeBron VI.  “Candyman” by Cornershop was the theme song. There was a barbershop, kids playing basketball, and kids having fun in school.  There were powdered sugar donuts. Everyone was imitating The King – throwing chalk in the air like he did before every game.  Even the most mundane moments became fun because of LeBron.

Besides James, the ad featured plenty of young NBA star power – Greg Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Daniel Gibson, Anderson Varejao, and J.J. Hicks all appear on court. The commercial also featured Jaime Nared, who was kicked off her 6th grade AAU boys’ basketball team and became an inspiration for female athletes.  Nared is currently a junior at the University of Tennessee and plays for the Lady Vols.

Finally, hip-hop star Lil’ Wayne was cheering on LeBron in the crowd. His album Tha Carter III debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart in ’08, and went on to become one of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Plenty has happened to James since this ad was created eight years ago. He crushed the souls of the Cleveland hopefuls by taking his talents to South Beach in 2010, and won two rings down there. Then he redeemed himself by coming home in 2014 and winning one for The Land last year. As LeBron continues one of the greatest careers in the history of the NBA, this commercial will go down as one of his most memorable.

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