Colin Kaepernick Nike campaign: LeBron James says he stands with company amid attacks by Donald Trump

'I stand with Nike… every day, all day,' says the NBA champion

Kimberley Richards
New York
Wednesday 05 September 2018 20:18
Nike release “Just Do It” advert, voiced by Colin Kaepernick

NBA superstar LeBron James has publicly backed Nike amid the company’s new advertsing campaign with Colin Kaepernick, and among the public backlash from critics of the quarterback – including the US president Donald Trump.

The Los Angeles Lakers star and vocal advocate for equality, declared his support for Nike, with an apparent reference to the company's new campaign featuring the former San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback.

“I stand with Nike… every day, all day,” he said.

Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem during NFL games in 2016, to protest racial injustice and disparities in police violence towards black Americans. Many other players across the US joined the peaceful protest, but Mr Trump has constantly attacked the protests as disrespectful.

The new campaign has sparked criticism from a minority of Nike customers who oppose Kaepernick’s protest, with some people going as far as to burn Nike products.

Man burns Nike trainers after company endorse Colin Kaepernick

“Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts,” Mr Trump said via Twitter on Wednesday. "As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!" Mr Trump said

Earlier this week, Nike announced its new deal with Mr Kaepernick, who will become one of the faces of the company’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” marketing campaign.

In the first advert of the campaign, Kaepernick is looking at the camera with words printed over the image reading: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything”. Kaepernick also voices another advert released by Nike, which will be aired during of the first NFL game of the season on Thursday.

The protests sparked backlash with some NFL viewers, particularly Mr Trump who once called black football players who kneeled “sons of b****es”.

During a ceremony in New York City on Tuesday night, James addressed Nike as he accepted the Icon 360 Award for both his style and philanthropy. James, who also has an endorsement deal with the company, opened a public school for at-risk children in his hometown of Akron, Ohio in July.

“Last but not least, I stand for anybody that believes in change, I stand for anybody that believes in a positive attitude and a positive matter…” he said during his remarks.

As for the burning protests, Amber Ruffin, Late Night with Seth Meyers writer, recently addressed the controversy on the show by sarcastically suggesting protesters burn their Nike gear “privately” – calling out the irony in their protests – considering Kaepernick was routinely criticised for protesting so publicly as an athlete during football games.

Tennis icon Serena Williams, who also has a sponsorship deal with Nike, has also backed Kaepernick.

"He’s done a lot for the African American community, and it’s cost him a lot. It’s sad," she told reporters after beating Karolina Pliskova to advance to the semi-finals at the US Open. "Having a huge company back him ... could be a controversial reason for this company, but they’re not afraid."I feel like that was a really powerful statement to a lot of other companies."

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