Cleveland Rejects Nike’s New LeBron James Banner (Updated)

adrian peterson nike scalesWith 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)


Nike’s proposed new LeBron James mural causes a dust-up []

  • Denny


  • Mustard

    I have no problem with Cleveland rejecting this. If I am not mistaken, they had to declare the previous 2 as “art” in order to put them on that building. I don’t need an AP knockoff image on that building. Nike knows what they’re doing, but I say we make them class it up.

  • MrCleaveland

    I’m one of those who strongly objects to equating sports to combat, war, bullets flying, foxholes, etc ad nauseum. If LeBron wants combat . . . well, you know the rest.

    BTW, AP looks positively hideous in that ad. He looks like they threw him in a dungeon because he’s got leprosy or something.

  • AMC

    C-town taking a good stand. I like it.

  • AMC

    By the way, Scott, the PD article you link to claims to have the image, which meets the description as you’ve laid it out.

  • Alex

    I still like the one with him dunking the best, but that new proposal is just bad.

  • Jackson

    Nike’s alternate campaign involves a smiling James flashing a thumbs up proclaiming “Nike Shoes are the Bee’s Knees”.

  • EZ

    I’m not really interested in replacing the current banner with anything that doesn’t have James in a Cavs jersey.

  • Denny

    @ Jackson – that would work on me. Especially if he wore yellow and black striped knee pads.

  • S-Dub

    I am happy the city rejected a picture of him NOT wearing any Cavs or Cleveland memorabilia. How many jokes would go on then?

    My name on here is because I actually work for Sherwin Williams while not at school. I would have to think they are involved in the situation. Strong company with great values, glad to see the city making the same decisions. Baby steps, baby steps.

  • Denny

    Yea that billboard is insanely stupid. Glad they turned it down.

    Though if LBJ would tattoo that Nike marketing biz on his leg, it’d be impressive.

  • humboldt

    Since several buddies of mine are still in Iraq and Afghanistan (as is likely the case for many Clevelanders), I find the “prepare for combat” war metaphor completely inappropriate. This sign is an epic FAIL on several levels. Good call Cle city council

  • Matthew R

    Glad to hear I’m not the only one turned off by the “combat” marketing campaign Nike is running now. I can’t decide if I think it’s dumb, offensive, or both.

  • ben


  • Clown Baby

    Skip Bayless would like to know if Nike has any plans for a similar marketing campaign for Brady Quinn.

  • Isis

    I commend the City of Cleveland for refecting this mural and holding firm to what is appropriate for the City of Cleveland, namely something that not only is a salute to LeBron and Nike-but also references his Cleveland Cavaliers identity. Nike is free to use their promos elsewhere on tv ads, etc.-something of that stature on a marquee across from the arena MUST be relevent and appropriate.

  • Isis

    ClownBaby-do you have a naked BQ poster in your bedroom? We’ll not let Nike intrude on your private enjoyment.

  • Clown Baby


    Killer burn bro!

  • Kevin Hignett

    It’s an ad, it’s always been an ad, and the City of Cleveland should butt out.

    Where are they on the half naked Trivisonno billboards around town, with the “balls” innuendo in full effect? That’s OK, but a shirtless LeBron is “offensive” and a “negative image” for young black men? This is where we draw the line? Not at rap videos and liquor ads in black neighborhoods, but at the image of the city’s cash cow up on a building.

    I get the argument against Nike using combat metaphors and that’s valid. But that’s not the argument city council is making here. And if you think an ad with LeBron wearing no uniform has ANY bearing on what team he’s going to play for, you’re crazy.


  • Sam B

    I agree and support the notion that the City of Cleveland wants that giant billboard to somehow reference the city too.

    However, I dont see an issue with the “prepare for combat” as “Combat Pro” is Nike’s new line that they are pushing. The “scales” are the same imprint that the pads on the new football unis they are pushing. (I think Miami is debuting them this week) I am not so sure what those scale imprints have to do with basketball though. Last I checked they dont where big thick pads under thier jerseys.

  • Denny

    I don’t know about Miami’s jerseys, but the OSU unis this weekend have Flywire on the shoulders, not this scale pattern. Not sure about the thigh pads though.

    A lot of basketball players have started wearing pads on their quads and even on their ribs. Dwight Howard wears a protective cutoff under his jersey every game, and has for at least the past year.

  • humboldt

    @Sam – Nike is drawing a facile analogy between sports (a game) and warfare (a real-world event in which actual people live and die at enormous individual/societal cost). The tagline “prepare for combat” renders “combat” as something glorious, and we all know that war is anything but.

    That this ill-conceived marketing strategy has been launched while our country is prosecuting two difficult and controversial wars abroad boggles the mind. There are other ways to push products without appealing to the public’s appetite for warfare, especially when the public has been so fatigued by 8 years of warfare.

    For this (and other reasons) I will go out of my way to avoid Nike products.

  • Norbit

    i think its stupid that they turned it down and prepare for combat is not inappropriate idk y evryone is complaining about this people just want something to complain about.

  • http://waitingfornextyear ashley

    shut up already its a poster. if you dont like it dont look cause its only your opinon.

  • jumper

    i think it is stupid that everyone is giving lebron james greif he is a great b-ball player people from other cities dont have to get mad because we have the best of the best. Cleveland is cruel they need to get over the fact that lebron is trying to make money who cares. and just leave him alone so that he can do what he needs to do for cleveland

  • jumper

    if lebron wants to have that sign there let it be so GET OVER IT CLEVELAND!! and how is it a problem against the vets if it says get ready for combat it means get ready for the sport your going to play CALM DOWN VETS

  • Sheniqua

    Maybe the combat things stands for the GAME, not war. Only racist people would say that the picture is offensive because of the way Lebron James looks. There is really no reason for there to be an arguement about this picture.

  • Pingback: NBA Playoffs: Nike and the Cavs Make Interesting Marketing Moves | WaitingForNextYear()

  • Garry_Owen

    “The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.”
    Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington (attributed to)

    For me, however, the idea that basketball can be equated to combat is simply laughable and silly – unless it actually comprises something of the mental and emotional background and framework of a person ultimately headed there. But as you implied, LeBron doesn’t have the stuff. He’s just a fool. But no harm, no foul.

  • Garry_Owen

    FYI: Found this deep in the archives – thus the weird reference.