There was an outpouring of love, grief and memories of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna at the Staples Center in Los Angeles this morning. Their wife and mother Vanessa Bryant took the podium along with a host of basketball world icons and celebrities, including Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Jimmy Kimmel, Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka and WNBA player Diana Taurasi.
Nike also stepped in to offer its own tribute in the form of a video that ran on the screens above the crowd before Jordan took his turn to speak. The simple film uses plain white text against a black background to recall Bryant’s illustrious career, framed around a single word: “Forever.”
In a style reminiscent of The New York Times’ “Truth” campaign, the copy changes around that single word to chart the various stages of Bryant’s life: “Philly Kid Forever ... Lower Merion Forever (recalling his famed high school years) ... Laker Forever.” Sound clips from his games and accomplishments over the years help to complement the visuals.
The words even capture that low point in Bryant's career in 1997 when, as a rookie, he shot four different airballs during the Lakers’ face-off against the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals, and the team was eliminated after a 98-93 loss: “Airball Airball Airball Airball Forever.”
But that turned out to be the moment when Bryant vowed to never falter again. The film then goes on to honor the Lakers’ three-peat (“2001… 2002… 2003 Forever”); Bryant’s Olympic championships (“Team USA Forever”) and 81-point game, his Oscar win and his post-retirement moves and life outside of basketball as “Coach,” “Father,” “Husband Forever." It culminates with a final line honoring the fighter persona that defined his life and career: “Mamba Forever," with "Mamba" rendered in Lakers' gold.
Nike's agency Wieden + Kennedy Portland was behind the film, with editing and sound out of Joint.