By Barry Janoff
August 5, 2014: Damian Lillard and Derrick Rose are both having busy off-seasons from the NBA as they compete for roster spots on the USA Men's Basketball Team in preparation for the FIFA Basketball World Cup in Spain (Aug. 30-Sept. 14).
The high-profile time is especially important for Rose, who has appeared in just 12 games for the Chicago Bulls over the past two seasons due to injuries and is working to be in top shape come the 2014-15 campaign.
"This is only the beginning of a long journey. But my confidence level is through the roof." Rose said during a media conference in Las Vegas, where the team was training. "I'm there, man. I'm not worried about that. My confidence is very high, and that's the only thing you might see this year — that my confidence level is through the roof."
Those words were good news for adidas, which works with Rose as a lead endorser and certainly gets more play from shoe releases and marketing support with Rose on the court in game competition rather than in a rehab situation.
To that end, as part of the events surrounding Team USA's training camp, adidas unveiled its Boost basketball shoe line, including the Crazylight Boost and the D Rose Boost 5. In addition to Rose and Lillard, the gathering of adidas spokespersons included Joakim Noah, Jrue Holiday, Jeff Teague, Tim Hardaway Jr, Arron Afflalo and new signee Marcus Smart.
Adidas supported its Boost premiere this past weekend with a promo spot starring Rose and Lillard, then followed it with a humorous spot in which Lillard goes solo, with a little help from actor Morgan Freeman and Rachel Nichols, Turner Sports reporter and host of CNN's Unguarded.
The spots support the launch of Crazylight Boost, which Lillard will wear, on Sept. 1 and D Rose Boost 5 Oct. 23. Additional efforts include Internet and social media destinations such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Lillard's spot, "Boost or Bust," opens with Freeman's voiceover asking, "Imagine a world without Boost. What would that look like?"
We see a movie theater marquee displaying "Boost Or Bust starring Damian Lillard." We then go inside to find Lillard not in his Portland Trail Blazers uniform but working the concession stand, passing buckets of popcorn to customers. Nichols arrives with a film crew to get Lillard's reactions.
"Damian, great game," she says. "What was the key down the stretch?"
"I just try to stay aggressive," says Lillard. "If a guy wants popcorn, I ask if he also wants a soda."
Regarding his moves in getting popcorn to a customer, Lillard explains, "I wanted to get to the bucket. I knew it would be tough for me to get my hands on it — the buttery topping is really slippery."
The interview continues. "What's your biggest obstacle in trying to get that championship?"
"The nachos," says Lillard. "Cheese sauce is a handful."
"Where do you draw your strength from?" asks Nichols.
"Any place that's got a multiplex," responds Lillard, "Ogden . . . Oregon . . . Oaktown," the latter a reference to his hometown of Oakland, Calif.
Text then reads, "Bust" and the scene cuts to Lillard, wearing his new adidas kicks, performing moves on a basketball court, following by the word, "Boost." Creative was handled in-house by adidas in conjunction with Sockeye, Portland, Ore. (See the full spot here.)
Lillard, who was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2012-13 and a member of the All-Star team last season, in April signed a new deal with adidas that was put at eight-to-ten years and ranked as the third-highest shoe contract to date behind LeBron James (Nike) and Rose, both valued in excess of $10 million per year, according to industry analysts. He celebrated that by starring in a spot for Foot Locker, "No Rings," which also featured Chris Webber, Karl Malone, Barry Sanders and LaDanian Tomlinson.
The upcoming exhibition schedule for Team USA sees Rose returning to Chicago for a game against Brazil (Aug. 16), then the team playing a pair of games in New York (Aug. 20-21) before heading to Spain. (Full schedule here.)
Lillard Rings In New adidas Deal With 'No Rings' Foot Locker Spot