NBA, NBA Playoffs

Basketball and superheroes: The NBA’s winning Instagram series

In case you hadn’t noticed, the playoffs fully bloomed over the last four weeks. To accompany the epic moments, the NBA’s new social media campaign poses its players as comic book protagonists.

As Avengers: Endgame clears box office records in a single bound and superhero ubiquity conquers the culture, the NBA found inspiration for its latest Instagram series. The campaign juxtaposes comic book motifs and the playoffs, taking the league’s prodigious stars and turning them into paladins of the hardwood.

Each post highlights a player’s superhuman ability – be it Nikola Jokić’s passing skills or Steph Curry’s shooting – or synchs a star with their herculean moment – from Damian Lillard’s deep game-winner in the first round to Kawhi Leonard’s fall-away Game 7 buzzer-beater.

The central attraction of the campaign is a set of origin stories, because everyone loves a good origin story. But instead of getting bit by a radioactive arachnid, these delve into players’ rigorous, sometimes unlikely paths to stardom all packaged neatly within 45-second clips.

“We’ve been really excited about the origin story concept because we documented these players since they entered the league and worked to build up the archive around them,” Bob Carney, the NBA’s vice president of social and digital content, said in an interview.

The game’s prominent talents always garner interest and these prologues show a different side of players that people don’t know or haven’t physically seen.

“A lot of the content that performs really well on social is this archival footage that fans haven’t seen before. They really gobble it up. We were sitting on all this content, we had it at our fingertips, and we were entering a playoff with an unbelievable amount of unpredictability. Why not educate our fans on the backstories on all these emerging superheroes,” Carney said.

The NBA’s social media found a winning combination. Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

The origin story video project (which includes Giannis AntetokounmpoCurryJames HardenJokićKawhi Leonard, and Lillard) generated over 11.2 million views so far. Somewhat surprisingly, Leonard leads the way.

“When we saw that the origin story on Kawhi Leonard rocketed to over 3 million views, we knew were onto something and it was what the fans wanted. Kawhi is not the most outspoken superstar in the league. He’s quiet and this gave people a look into his work ethic and personality,” Carney continued.

Next: Kawhi Leonard: King of the North, now and forever

All these players, especially the greats have superpowers. If the NBA was ever able to take it a step further and do a full-blown crossover, aligning players with certain characters, it’d probably swell in popularity.

Especially since Michael Jordan and his six rings seamlessly parallels to Thanos and the six infinity stones.

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