Spike Lee directs Nike 50th anniversary spot

Spike Lee first introduced the fast-talking, Brooklyn-loving character of Mars Blackmon in his acclaimed 1986 movie She’s Gotta Have It.

He returns in full effect in the new Nike spot, wearing his distinctive uniform of a Brooklyn cycling cap and giant ‘Mars’ chain and is shown playing chess in a Brooklyn park while declaring how he’s “seen it all” when it comes to sports. He goes on to namecheck moments of sporting history he’s witnessed, from stars including Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, and – of course – Michael Jordan.

This is no simple sporting nostalgia fest, however, for Blackmon’s opponent – in both chess and chat – comes in the form Zimmie, played by actor Indigo Hubbard-Salk, who appeared in the TV version of She’s Gotta Have It. Her chain is smaller but she can give as good as she gets in terms of naming sports, and serves the purpose of bringing the spot bang up to date.

Nike released a shorter version of the ad on Twitter, and shown above is the director’s cut. Both end with Blackmon being outwitted by Zimmie, who pronounces “Look OG, no disrespect, I know you think you’ve seen everything, but you ain’t seen nothing yet”, before checkmating him.

The spot forms part of Nike’s 50th anniversary celebrations, which will play out all this week, so we can presumably expect more treats to come. Lee’s film offers a reflection on 50 years of the brand and sports but is delivered with a light touch, and as much an eye on the future as the past.

Lee’s Blackmon character of course has his own part to play in Nike’s history too, having starred in a series of ads for the brand alongside Michael Jordan in the late 80s and 90s – these spots are also name-checked in the 50th anniversary spot.