Endorsements never stop.
In September, several NBA stars such as LeBron James and Kevin Durant wore t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan "Basketball Never Stops" during a Goodman League exhibition game in Philadelphia. The slogan was the players' way of signifying that they are basketball and that they will continue playing, possibly even at a park or college near you, despite being locked out by NBA owners.
In late October, Nike released an advertisement featuring several top flight NBA stars that ends with the words "Basketball Never Stops" being flashed across the screen. Is Nike's message that it is basketball? Or is the ad also saying that the players are the game? Or, even better, has Nike pulled the trick of conflating itself with the game's stars?
Regardless of the implied relationship between athletic retailer and the game, the commercial -- titled "Spotlight" -- makes clear that the NBA is not the prime wellspring for basketball. Despite the ongoing NBA lockout, basketball continues to exist in several forms. Whether it's the amazing performance of Kevin Durant at Rucker Park, the various high school and college games that will begin around the country shortly, or even by playing a pop-a-shot at the local arcade, the NBA does not hold a monopoly on basketball.
The slick advertisement also shows that basketball isn't the only thing that never stops. With or without the NBA, Nike can leverage its relationships with high-profile endorsers like LeBron. With the NBA having already cancelled the first two months of games, Nike has turned toward the players and even fans to help generate interest in the game -- and therefore in the athletic apparel used to play it. The #basketballneverstops hashtag is prominently displayed in the ad and Nike has created a Facebook page for fans to share their own basketball activities.