With the first rendition of Nike’s LeBron James Witness campaign gracing Cleveland for two seasons, many folks thought that the one that is currently displayed along Ontario Ave. would be replaced this season. Rumors swirled that a new version of the 10-story banner was to be hung within the last few days, but as it turns out, the city of Cleveland has turned down Nike’s proposal.
Both the current image and that of the previous banner featured James in a Cleveland Cavaliers jersey. The first was of him dunking the basketball, the current of him in the midst of his famous “chalk” clap. But the city of Cleveland felt that Nike’s proposal of a shirtless James, with zero mention of Cleveland or the Cavaliers would not be suitable for the spot along the Sherwin-Williams building.
The proposal is similar to that of the pictured Adrian Peterson image above, with James laced in scales and the words “prepared for combat” along with Nike’s swoosh logo. City counsel was concerned not only about the absence of Cleveland depicted in the banner, but also that a shirtless James covered in tattoos as well portrayed an unfriendly image of African Americans.
“It’s just not a stereotype I can begin to buy into,” said Rory Turner (a member of the Cleveland design review committee), who is black.
Unfortunately, the actual image is currently not available. This will likely fly right into the issue that occurred this past summer when Nike allegedly confiscated a video of LeBron James getting dunked on in a game of pick-up basketball. Similar to said video, the image of James that was proposed by Nike will likely be released at some point.
(Update 7:30PM: As suspected, the rejected mural image has been leaked. Check it out below)