It begins with a lone conversion van cruising northbound on Shields Boulevard in the middle of the night. A spotlight shines on Oklahoma City's skyline as the soulful sound of legendary vocalist Sam Cooke fades in with the classic tune “Good Times.”
The next 53 seconds seem surreal.
But it's the commercial's final five that can send chills down your spine.
As that silver van rolls north along Robinson Avenue, three spotlights illuminate the city's skyline. The unmistakable 50-story Devon Tower rises high above all else. The words “Basketball Never Stops,” and an accompanying Nike swoosh, then splash across the skyline to close out the one-minute spot.
“I first saw it during the football game Sunday night,” said Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett. “I was watching it with my brother, and I remember turning to him as we were both watching it and we were both amazed. I looked at him and said ‘What is that worth?'”
If you still haven't seen Kevin Durant's latest commercial, you need to stop what you're doing, log on to YouTube, search “KD Paint the Town” and sit back and enjoy. Then hit the replay button until your heart's content.
That's how good the Oklahoma City Thunder star's new Nike ad is.
“Five seconds into it, you have to remind yourself that this is a national commercial,” Cornett said. “Because your first instinct is that it's a very well-done local commercial. And then you realize, no, everyone is seeing this. It's just really well done.”
Durant filmed the commercial, which made its television debut last Sunday night, over a four-day span in mid-October. As part of Nike's Basketball Never Stops campaign, Durant is seen searching for and showing up at various locations throughout the Oklahoma City area to join games of pick-up basketball. The spotlights serve as his guides, leading him to games with everyone from truckers to senior citizens.
“It's based on Kevin's love of the game,” explained Nike spokesperson Cindy Hamilton. “Everyone would agree that it's obvious that he would be looking for opportunities to play every day even if he wasn't in the NBA. His love of the game is authentic in how he lives his life and how he plays the game. And so this campaign really honors and amplifies his spirit and his desire to always want to play.”
Throughout the 149-day NBA lockout, Durant cemented his reputation as a gym rat, randomly showing up and playing at parks and gymnasiums in each corner of the country.
The reigning two-time scoring champ became an instant playground legend and internet sensation when he scored 66 points at New York City's renowned Rucker Park on Aug. 1. He scored 40-plus in two more New York City events that same week then took his one-man show national, making appearances in Atlanta, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Miami, Portland, Dallas and Oklahoma City. In July, Durant traveled to China and the Philippines for basketball clinics and showcases.
On Halloween, Durant amazed the sports world when he joined Oklahoma State students in Stillwater for a night of flag football.
Hamilton said Durant's undying accessibility and willingness to engage fans made his new ad a natural fit.
“Whether it's digitally or physically, he's constantly talking to fans and going one-on-one with them on Twitter and Facebook,” Hamilton said. “So that is also something that we wanted to bring about through the spot.”