Don’t be fooled into thinking the hilarious new commercial starring Michael B. Jordan and Kobe Bryant is simply about hawking Siri on tvOS, Apple TV or the NBA app – all of which feature prominently in the clip. It is about selling all of the above, no doubt. But the real products here are Kobe and his legacy as he wraps up his legendary, controversial career with the Lakers. In the spot, Jordan (appearing as himself, prepping to star in a biopic about Kobe) sits next to Kobe (appearing as himself) in Kobe’s state-of-the-art trailer and quizzes the sports legend about how it feels to become old and infirm. Kobe slowly seethes before kicking the obliviously tactless actor out. It’s very, very funny, which is not a word many would use to describe the humorless Bryant. More importantly and strategically, it’s a perfect way to help burnish the rep of a man whose status as a sports legend/icon is unimpeachable but who’s been described as cold and self-absorbed, and whose public persona and team-standing took a crippling hit after he was accused of rape in 2003. In the new ad, he’s lovably gruff and magnetic as a million bucks. The stage has been set for many, many years of lucrative endorsement deals to come.
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