Miami Heat NBA superstar Dwyane Wade has a new slate of commercials appearing on television as the pro basketball season starts, and they’re an interesting phenomenon. Directed by Spike Lee, the commercials purport to show the "real" Dwyane Wade, the man behind the basketball player. Mostly, they are just shots of Wade sitting on a chair on a basketball court, talking directly to the camera. As the Sun-Sentinal reports:
From behind the camera, Lee asks Wade questions about his life on and off the basketball court in what’s being described as something of a fireside chat.
“My whole concept this year is going with the real me,” Wade said. “It’s about letting people get to know who Dwyane Wade is. So he’s asking me personal questions that maybe my fans won’t know about basketball, off the court.”
The messages are simple and direct, largely about the value of hard work, dedication, and other good things. One stands out as unusual, however: Wade talks about how his relationship with God is at the center of his life and is his greatest motivation. It’s a very sincere and, for me, an appealing spot, and clearly it was important to Wade to have that particular commercial run, as one could easily imagine Converse, the firm sponsoring the ads, being worried about offending non-Christians (many of whom are ever-so-quick to take offense at any expression of Christian faith).
Wade’s decision is rather reminiscent of Johnny Cash’s refusal in the 1950s to record only secular songs. Cash insisted that for every secular record he released, the record company would put out an album of his recordings of gospel music. Cash had it put in his contract, and that was that. He risked losing a lucrative career in order to stand on his principles. (Some might say that he used his leverage as a popular entertainer to force his personal views on people, but that’s false because nobody was forced either to listen to or pay for his gospel records.)
You don’t have to be a Christian to respect that kind of integrity, and you don’t have to be a basketball fan to find Wade’s decision laudable.
I wouldn’t point to this little event as part of a great movement toward a re-Christianization of America or anything like that. In the Omniculture, after all, everything happens. But to me, at least, it’s rather nice to see.