On Christmas Day, the NBA will entrench its brand in efforts to combat gun violence. In partnership with Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the NBA will have ads featuring players running five times Friday during games.
Spike Lee, a member of Everytown's creative council, directs the commercial. His most recent film, Chi-Raq, addresses gun violence on Chicago's South Side. Lee originally brought up the idea to ESPN President John Skipper, who sent him to NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
Four NBA players make cameos in the ad: Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Joakim Noah. Curry is the reigning MVP, Paul is the president of the National Basketball Players Association, Anthony is the star of Lee's hometown New York Knicks and Noah has long-addressed gun violence in Chicago through his Noah's Arc Foundation.
"I heard about a shooting involving a 3-year-old girl over the summer," Curry says to open the ad. "My daughter Riley's that age."
Although the ad never mentions the term, "gun control," the NBA is sure to catch criticism from gun-rights activists who see the the ads as an assault on Second Amendment rights.
"We're not worried about any political implications," Kathleen Behrens, NBA president of social responsibility and player programs, tells the The New York Times. The NBA has tweeted the video (as has Everytown):
— NBA (@NBA) December 23, 2015
The film cuts between NBA players and the families of victims of gun violence. Andy Parker, father of Virginia television reporter Alison Parker, makes an appearance in the ad.
"Because of the NRA, politicians and the gun manufacturers, we’re dying under that tyranny," Lee says. "Ninety Americans are dying every day because of the NRA, gun manufacturers, and politicians willing to run you under the table."
Curry, Paul and Noah are all in action on Christmas Day. Everytown for Gun Safety paid for the production of the commercials but not the airtime. The NBA is donating slots it controls on ABC and ESPN, the network broadcasting all five games, to the ads.
The NBA is the first of the four major sports teams to give its name and logo to specific organization geared toward curbing gun violence.
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.