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'That's Game' campaign celebrates NBA's impact on and off the court

With the launch of its new global campaign, the NBA is putting a new spin on this phrase, using it as a celebration of great NBA moments that raise the bar for what happens on the court, in communities across the globe and in the culture at large.

Brian Martin, for NBA.com

The phrase “that’s game” can be heard on courts across the country and around the world, usually signifying the play that ends one game and brings the team that’s “got next” onto the court for the next run.

With the launch of its new global campaign “That’s Game,” the NBA is putting a new spin on this phrase, using it as a celebration of great NBA moments that raise the bar for what happens on the court, in communities across the globe and in the culture at large.

LeBron James’ 35-foot 3-pointer with a minute left to seal the Lakers’ win over the Warriors on Wednesday night in the State Farm Play-In Tournament. That’s Game.

The “We Believe” Curry 8 sneakers that Stephen Curry was wearing during that same game, celebrating an era of Warriors basketball that defied the odds and made a memorable playoff run back in 2007. That’s Game.

The mutual respect on display as LeBron and Curry embraced after the game, and Curry telling the media postgame that “All-time great players make great shots” in recognition of the LeBron winning the latest chapter in their storied rivalry. That’s Game.

The fact that these two MVPs have become global icons that give back to their communities in countless ways — from Curry renovating basketball courts, donating books and meals to children in Oakland, to LeBron opening the I Promise elementary school in his hometown of Akron. That’s Game.

It’s not just the end result of a 48-minute game that resonates with fans, it’s the moments inside and outside the game that fans will remember for years to come. How many kids will head to the playground or their driveway and try to re-enact LeBron’s shot? Or Curry’s half-time buzzer-beater? Or tapping your wrist after making a game-winning shot as your own version of Dame Time?

“‘That’s Game’ demonstrates more than just the culmination of play — it’s about the moments that have kept fans connected to the game throughout history and will continue to engage them long into the future,” said NBA Chief Marketing Officer Kate Jhaveri in a press release announcing the campaign’s launch. “We are excited to celebrate the incredible plays that leave us in awe and the impactful community work from players and teams, and we look forward to continuing this storytelling into the 75th anniversary season.”

The NBA has always been about more than what occurs within the confines of the 94×50-foot playing surface. The action on the court is only a fraction of how the NBA impacts the world. Players and teams have joined forces to stand up for social justice, have donated meals to communities in need, taught the next generation of players at basketball clinics, influenced fashion trends with every walk down the tunnel toward the locker room. That is all part of the NBA game.

The “That’s Game” campaign launches with a series of four television spots narrated by critically acclaimed actor Idris Elba and set to an original composition by Oscar-winning producer Jon Batiste. Renowned Director Emmanuel Adjei (“Black is King” and “Dark Ballet”) directed the spots, which will air globally in 15 languages, with select markets featuring local celebrities as the voices of the campaign.

This is more than basketball. It's what connects us all and keeps us coming back for more. That's the NBA. #ThatsGame

The first spot includes iconic moments like Vince Carter’s 360-degree dunk in the 2000 Dunk Contest that was re-enacted both by Donovan Mitchell to win the 2018 Dunk Contest and by fans in a swimming pool capping off the dunk with a splash and the iconic “it’s over” gesture. Legends connected to current players; players connected to fans; history connecting to the present. That’s the power of the game.

The spot also shows Jaylen Brown wearing the word “Liberation” on his Celtics jersey during the 2020 NBA restart and playoffs in Orlando in a season dedicated to social justice. The players came together to use the NBA’s platform to make an impact to communities far and wide outside the bubble. It was a moment that also harkened back to the league’s past when legends like Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were part of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. It was “game” back then and continues to be part of the game today.

While the initial television spots will utilize some of the greatest moments in NBA Playoff history to showcase the meaning of “That’s Game”, the campaign will continue to grow throughout the playoffs and toward the 75th anniversary season thanks to a number of key partnerships with artists, content creators, influencers and brands that support the NBA’s goal to continue to move forward, push boundaries and activate change.

Independent musicians will create content defining what “That’s Game” means to them through the NBA’s partnership with UnitedMasters. The “NBA House” will bring together some of the top social content creators to a single location in Los Angeles to create social content and programming that will find fans on whatever platform they use to consume content and the NBA.

The “Catch the Game” watch-and-win promotion will give fans a chance to win access to some of the NBA’s marquee events such as NBA All-Star 2022 in Cleveland and NBA Finals 2022. As the 2020-21 season has progressed, we have seen more fans able to attend games as local restrictions on crowd sizes continue to scale back with COVID-19 cases on the downswing. Seeing fans sitting courtside and hearing them chant and cheer for their favorite players and teams. That’s Game.

As the State Farm Play-In Tournament wraps up this week and the 2021 NBA Playoffs get set to tip off on Saturday, there are plenty of new “That’s Game” moments on the horizon for the basketball world to celebrate

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