Nike's LeBron James commercial answers the question: Would he rather be liked or feared?

Controversy sells. At least Nike thinks so. Remember how the company took advantage of Tiger Woods’ scandal with an ad that featured the voice of Woods’ dead father? The sporting-goods company has adapted a similar tact with LeBron James, who went from hero to heel overnight after abandoning the Cleveland Cavaliers for the star-studded Miami Heat. In a new commercial, the 25-year-old star repeatedly asks the audience, “What should I do?” while clearly concluding that he’s proudly his own man. He quotes Maya Angelou, hangs with Sonny Crockett, and tweaks his critics, especially former star Charles Barkley, before rhetorically asking, “Should I be who you want me to be?” Take a look:

The Don Johnson cameo marked the first time since James’ decision that I was glad he selected Miami. (A Hot in Cleveland sighting just wouldn’t have the same vibe.) But the advertisement is another example of James’ ultra-sensitivity. Last week, he re-tweeted bigoted criticisms that he’s received over his move to South Beach. More than any other superstar of his magnitude, he seems to depend too much on what you think of him. In sports — just as in A Bronx Tale — it’s better to be feared than loved, no matter how James feels.

But is it a good ad? Will it sell sneakers? Does it redeem James for not telling the Cavaliers that he was leaving before announcing it to the world? And will you be watching tonight, when the Heat take on the Celtics in the first game of the NBA season?

Read more:
The LeBron James saga: When did basketball get infected by reality TV?
Betty White tries to woo LeBron James — to stay in Cleveland

Comments (59 total) Add your comment
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  • Mr. Holloway

    In the immortal words of Michael Scott: “Do I want to be feared or loved? I want both. I people to be afraid of how much they love me.”

    • Mr. Holloway

      By the way, I was always under the impression that most people aren’t mad at him for leaving Cleveland for Miami…they were upset because he starred in a self-serving reality TV special to publicly announce that he was breaking up with the city of Cleveland.

      • Marie

        as a Clevelander, i must say you got it right. if he wanted to leave, then leave, but the way he did it could have been a little more mature, that’s why most people were upset. what he did felt like a slap in the face. i’m not sure if he will ever be voted MVP again.

      • A.Tom

        I am also a Clevelander and you are absolutely correct. Cleveland was not upset that Lebron left–that is his right. It was the way he left. It was just rude.

      • Betty White

        Oh shut up you crybabyies! LeBron can go anywhere he wants! Miami is VERY HAPPY TO WELCOME HIM WITH OPEN ARMS!

      • PixxieTrixxie

        Another Clevaland area dweller, very proud of this area, I really wish that life would just go on. The only one still angry is the Cavs owner, Dan Gilbert. It was the way he did it, not that he did it, that was awful – and finding out that the whole action was probably conceived years before that hurt. But it’s done, quit picking at the sore.


        Betty White, you missed their point. They said they understood that he’s allowed to go where he wants. He did it in a rude fashion.

      • Queen James

        Wait, you mean you don’t love me? Cause all my friends do. Well, except for my teammates last year, the guys who didn’t tell me that Delonte was getting it on with my mom.

    • Chris

      Thanks for ruining that quote.

      • Mr. Holloway

        You’re welcome.

        “I want* people to be afraid of how much they love me.” (Whoops…Fail.)

      • Mr. Holloway

        …BTW I think the fact that I botched the quote was a very Michael Scott thing to do.

    • Vicky

      Saw the headline and came here to make sure someone posted this. :)

  • Sarah

    He needs to get over himself and just freaking play basketball.

    • Jay

      Well said… just play basketball and forget the idea that your an icon

  • Ed

    In a world of arrogant a-holes who speak of themselves in the third person, LBJ stands at the top, and this insufferable commercial is just the latest evidence. However, I do love seeing Don Johnson as Crockett again!

    • Rich

      I prefer him as Kenny Powers’ deadbeat dad. To each his own.

    • PAUL

      I agree however, at the top is our current president when it comes to arrogance.

  • Oolah

    I think what Lebron wants most is to have the ball shoved up his bum.

    If you want to consider yourself the best player in the league, you have to beat the best–not lay with them.

    • kenneth

      it’s lebron, kobe bryant then dawyane wade!

      • Ken

        if he isn’t there already Durant will soon be added to that list.

  • John Thomas

    Whether you like him or not, it’s a good commerical. LeBron doesn’t owe the Cavs anything. He gave them seven good years. And this is coming from a Chicago Bulls fan.

    • WOPP


      • kenneth


    • Jermaine

      @ John Thomas. I LOVE the Chicago Bulls too. I agree with you when you said LeBron doesn’t owe the Cavs anything because I dont think he owes them anything either BUT I don’t blame Cleveland for hating him. Think about it this way, if Jordan would’ve left the Bulls in 1990 to join the Pistons or Lakers, I would’ve probably been on the verge of killing myself, so I dont blame Cleveland for being so hateful towards the self-proclaimed King.

      • JRE

        Now add to Jordan leaving the idea of him putting on a circus to do so. Then maybe you’ll have it.

    • Dennis

      And John, Chicago Fans will be the first to boo James and Wade for picking Miami over Chicago. Let’s face it, if James and Wade play out their careers together, Wade will always have one more ring than James. I’m not sure that James thought about that before making his decision. A great competitor would. James is looking for the easy way to a championship.

    • Betty White

      Exactly John. I live in Miami and WE LOVE LEBRON JAMES! Cleveland’s lost, our gain!!!

  • kenneth

    f&%k cleveland! He did the right thing, and no i’m not a miami fan, i’m a lebron fan!

    • kenneth


  • Richie Rich

    Until he wins a championship, he’s just another overpaid athlete acting like he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. As much as I can’t stand Kobe, he got two rings on his watch (plus the three with Shaq), and the way it looks, LA might get three. LeBron is so arrogant and has such a sense of entitlement, but what has he done? Of course there will be those who say Michael Jordan acted this way, and I won’t disagree. But what did Jordan do that LeBron didn’t? He won and won and won. Do I need to remind everyone that he NEVER lost in the Finals and he didn’t bail on his team when they were struggling, has the six rings to show for his persistence. The Heat will do well this season, but they won’t win a championship. They should, but they won’t. And if they do make it to the Finals, I hope the Lakers are there to sweep them off their feet.

    • kenneth

      Stupid talk!!

    • D

      I can’t stand the Lakers and yet I found myself agreeing with you whole heartedly

  • Charles

    What he SHOULDN’T have done was take prime time space to announce a decision that could have taken two seconds. He especially shouldn’t have done it when he decided to leave his home. THAT’S why I don’t care for him as a player anymore.

    • kenneth

      Who care how the message got out, get over it!!!!

  • CeasorBennett

    I love it be yourself that’s what your parents teach you growing up prove them all wrong bring home the ring go Miami

  • ace

    You should go away as the loser you are. You forgot to mention that you took a dive during the last two games against Boston, and tanked the opportunity for Cleveland to advance to the finals and getting yourself and your teammates a championship ring. Dan Gilbert was right about you. Again, You’re a LOSER!

  • Roberta

    LeBron James is a grown man who made a decision that affects his life. He does not owe anyone anything. He is basketball player who chose to move on to another team. That’s it! If I had the choice to work in a town I like and with my friends, I’d jump at that chance, as would most people. Stop being so damn sensitive people! He chose to do what is best for him and owes no one else anything. At the end of the day he is still rich and still plays basketball.

    • kenneth

      True that!!

  • Tiffany

    What LeBron needs to do is just STFU and play basketball. If he acted like an adult and just told his former employer he was leaving, nobody would give a Sh!t about any of this.
    LeBron will always be chasing Kobe and Michael and falling short. He even stole Kobe’s quote about taking his ‘talent’ to Miami. Kobe said that when he declared for the NBA. Still chasing Kobe……get used to it!

    • Betty White

      tiffany STFU! Who the freak cares about how YOU or any of the Cleveland area fans feel? NOONE! James owes you and your city NOTHING!!! Hell he doesn’t owe my city of Miami NOTHING! But we welcome him the same! We love winners and LeBron is that, A WINNER AND HE WILL BE A CHAMPION!! GET OVER IT YOU LOSERS!

  • EFF Lebron

    He’s a sensitive little baby. He’s Clueless!

    • kenneth

      I guess you are too!!

      • Anelyn

        Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wtnead to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon

  • El Gigante

    You didn’t have to.


    Impeach this false dictator who has destroyed our gulf, and our military. Contact your local congressman today! Act before he screws up America any further!

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