Kobe Bryant: through the advertising years

There was a famous 1996 Michael Jordan-Nike commercial from longtime agency Wieden and Kennedy called “Frozen Moments.” In it, Jordan gets the ball and goes for a typical “Michael Jordan” type of jump shot. Art aside, the truth, and genius, of that spot was the insight that the world would stop to watch MJ take his trademark shot. Yesterday, the world experienced “Frozen Moments” in real life as we were all shaken to our cores when the tragic news of Kobe Bryant, 41, his daughter Gianna, 13, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash.

What was notable, as the devastating news sank in throughout the day, was not just the outpouring of love and tributes from other NBA players and athletes, but the love and tributes shared by every day people. Not just basketball fans. But fans of families. Fans of inspirational Black men. Fans of good people. If you scrolled through Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, you could see the same family photos, posted as memes, over and over again.

One could begin to understand the impact Kobe’s 20 years and five championships had on the world. Personally, I hated Mamba. Not as a man, he was from Philly. But as a player. I hated when Kobe took the Sixers to task. H-A-T-E-D.

I wasn’t alone when it came to despising Mamba’s basketball prowess, especially when you were on the receiving end of them.

It was Mamba’s natural skill and precision that made him a staple of Laker hate and advertising love. He was Jordan’s successor at Nike and rightfully so. He was, in many ways, a more evolved spokesman than MJ or even King James. Kobe was a natural in front of the camera. And believe me, having worked with athletes over the years, that is not the easiest thing to find. Below is a tribute that Nike posted yesterday to Kobe.

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Here are some of the many ads Kobe appeared in for Nike.

It’s been mostly forgotten, but Kobe actually endorsed Adidas when he first started playing.

As much of an impact Kobe had on the basketball and advertising world, no one will miss him as much as his grieving family.

Contact Colin Costello at colin@reel360.com or follow him on Twitter at @colinthewriter1.