Moments after Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James surpassed basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time NBA scoring record on Tuesday night, Nike was among the first brands to congratulate him.
A video posted to the sportswear company’s social media accounts was captioned, “20 years later, we are who we’ve always been—witnesses to @KingJames never-ending greatness.” In the spot, a series of highlight clips and images from James’ career are overlaid with an inspirational sermon and soundbites from sportscasters.
Created by Nike’s longtime agency, Wieden+Kennedy Portland, the video recounts No. 6’s journey from his rookie season—James joined the NBA in 2003 at 18 years old—through his two decades with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat and L.A. Lakers, during which time he’s racked up an unparalleled 38,338 career points and counting.
The spot also pays tribute to one of James’ first major ad campaigns, dubbed “Witness,” which dates from as early as November 2005 and may be best remembered for the 110-foot-high billboard showing James with his arms outstretched that stood next to the former Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
“The ‘Witness’ campaign pays tribute to James and acknowledges the legions of fans worldwide who are ‘witnessing’ his greatness, power, athleticism and beautiful style of play,” Nike wrote in a press release at the time. Across Nike’s Twitter and Instagram accounts alone, the new “Witness” video has already amassed more than 11 million views.
In addition to Nike, several other brands, organizations and high-profile individuals have been saluting James, who has also had a lengthy entrepreneurial streak in his career and was named one of Ad Age’s Marketers of the Year in 2021.
KFC Canada got in on the action, working with agency Courage in Toronto to quickly deploy a billboard featuring a crown-shaped bucket of fried chicken that reads: “From one king of buckets to another, congrats.” The ad was placed along the Gardiner Expressway, the main highway leading into Toronto’s downtown core.
Tequila brand Lobos 1707, which James is involved with as an investor, tweeted a toast, calling James the “leader of the pack.” Meditation app Calm did the same with a congratulatory social media message, as did Budweiser, which quote-tweeted an image from ESPN showing James sitting on a throne.
Even the Golden State Warriors, one of the Lakers’ in-state rivals, took to social media Tuesday night with a video congratulating the player often nicknamed “King James” on his historic game.
And as of Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after the L.A. forward scored his record-breaking point in a matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder—which the Lakers narrowly lost by three points—searching “LeBron James” on Google prompted a splash of basketball-themed confetti.