New LeBron James Samsung Ad and the Sheer Stupidity of the Bygone LeBron-Hate Era

The Miami Heat ring ceremony was a subdued event when it came to posturing, celebrating and theatrics. The second-to-last name called was Dwyane Wade’s, the 10-year franchise cornerstone. He strutted to David Stern with little exuberance — strictly business.

LeBron James — in another clear indication that he is the unchallenged captain, if any was needed — was announced last. In the short timespan it took him to appear from the shadows of the baseline to pick up his ring and then give and accept daps from his squad, these were the thoughts running through my head:

Wait…am I watching Da Ali G Show? This dude LeBron has more hand signals than a little bit…

Why is LeBron clowning so much going down the teammate line? This is a 10-year vet, two-time champ, four-time MVP I’m watching, right? Because I get the feeling I’m watching a bad LeBron impersonation from Jay Pharoah.

This dude is kinda corny.

Then this Samsung commercial aired.

Thought running through my head:

My bad. I forgot. That dude is inarguably awesome.

It’s sad how I can forget that sometimes.

Three years ago, LeBron and Nike filmed this rightfully defensive ad. The theme was basically, “Y’all really this mad?” Polls showed that post-Decision LeBron had become one of the most disliked athletes in country. Even at the time it seemed like madness.

Things have changed. Aside from showing the dedication that buoys his gifts, the theme of “Training Day,” this year’s early season Nike ad, is LeBron, Man of the People. And, indeed, he has returned to his perch as the league’s most popular athlete .

Nothing, however, is quite as indelible as LeBron, Family Man that we see in Samsung commercial, specifically the 30-second spots that pair down the two-minute version that first aired. As jocular and silly as that commercial might be, it poignant more than anything else. You can’t fake that father-son love — it drips off the screen. If the commercial doesn’t elicit a wide and sincere smile, you must either be from Cleveland or the worst person. (By the way, what the images in that commercial do to the black athlete’s absentee father stigma warrants a much deeper discussion.)

How can you not like that guy?

Better question: Why did we really dislike him to begin with? LeBron hasn’t changed much since 2010. We did. It took us a while to get back to our senses.

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