Spike Lee breaks down history’s greatest sports moments for Nike’s 50th anniversary ad

Starring Zimmie and Mars Blackmon from Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It, the ad sees two generations battle it out over every iconic “dunk” and “flex” from the last 50 years.

17 May 2022


We all get sentimental around our birthday, but for Nike’s 50th, the brand is doing it a little differently. While making time to have a look through the old photo albums, its anniversary spot makes room for the next generation to step up to the plate too. As the latest Spike Lee joint, the spot also brings back Lee’s Mars Blackmon character from the 1986 She’s Gotta Have It, pitting him up against Zimmie, played by Indigo Hubbard-Salk, from the more recent TV reprisal of the film.

Sat at a sliding chess table in Brooklyn park, the pair play out the last 50 years in sporting history, angling for a checkmate. Attesting he’s “seen it all”, Lee breaks down all the figures and feats he – and we – remember well, from LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Serena Williams, to a Tiger (Woods) “earning his stripes”, speaks Mars. Firing back at Lee’s take that there “is nothing I ain’t seen”, Zimmie runs us through the new school of sports giants, narrating shots of Naomi Osaka and Mbappé – and finishing with a checkmate.

The ad includes footage featuring more than 40 legendary and present-day Nike athletes. In a release, the brand states: “Nike’s 50th anniversary isn’t about looking back – it’s about looking to the past for inspiration as the brand expands sport for a new generation.”

Having Lee helm Nike’s trip down memory lane is fitting for the anniversary; the two have worked on many a project together, including possibly some of the most famous shoe ads in history – the It’s Gotta be the Shoes series featuring Michael Jordan. The series of ads ran throughout the 80s and 90s, and also featured Mars Blackmon, a character well-known for wearing Air Jordans in She’s Gotta Have It. Reprising the character once more, Nike’s new Seen It All ad sees the brand come full circle, perhaps hoping to spark some of the original Mars Blackmon magic for a Gen Z audience.

Coinciding with the brand’s 50th anniversary, throughout May, Nike will also provide access to exclusive content from the Department of Nike Archives (DNA), which houses some of the most iconic artefacts of Nike’s first 50 years.

GallerySpike Lee: Seen It All, Nike 50th Anniversary (Copyright © Nike, 2022)

Further Info

Spike Lee: Seen It All, Nike 50th Anniversary (Copyright © Nike, 2022)

About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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