The Kobe Bryant NBA Retirement Tour is nearing its end. Bryant’s final game is scheduled for April 13, when he will step onto the floor of the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the last time. And with the tour’s conclusion comes the ramp up of Nike’s marketing campaign, showcasing other Nike athletes wearing black and gold kicks all week to honor the Black Mamba, as well as a brand new commercial debuting in China.
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The commercial features a black and white Kobe against a nondescript background, staring into the camera before proclaiming, “You love me.” And it’s true. China really does love Kobe. Have you seen him try to walk around anywhere in China? It’s like another revolution is here, and he is its fearless leader.
But the commercial takes an odd turn, with Bryant telling viewers that they should instead hate him for the way he pushed those who looked up to him to be great. The stories of the 4 a.m. workouts. The insatiable demand for greatness from those around him. You should hate me, Kobe says, until you become greater than me.
Delivered to a string accompaniment, Kobe’s message here feels profound: Don’t simply admire the athletes you look up to. Instead, use their greatness to fuel your own desire to become better than they were.
If this commercial doesn’t send chills down your spine, you’ve got some kind of problem.