Nike pulled its new Michael Jordan television commercial off the air on Friday because the “he’s trying” theme no longer fits.
The ad, directed by and costarring Spike Lee, made its debut last Saturday during TV’s “Saturday Night Live” and was Nike’s first to feature Jordan as a baseball player.
“It’s probably not appropriate any longer,” Nike spokesman Keith Peters said. “That’s unfortunate, because it’s a funny one that just got started.”
The timing of the ad’s release backs up Nike’s insistence that the company was not aware Jordan was contemplating retiring from baseball and returning to pro basketball.
The ad featured current and former baseball greats Stan Musial, Willie Mays and Ken Griffey Jr., as well as Bill Buckner, whose error in the 1986 World Series is one of the sport’s most memorable miscues.
In each segment, Lee is sitting next to each of the baseball players as they watch Jordan play baseball. “He’s no Stan Musial,” Lee says. “Yeah, but he’s trying,” Musial responds. The scene is repeated with Mays and Griffey.
Finally, the ball is shown going through Jordan’s legs as Lee says, “He’s no Bill Buckner.” “Yeah,” Buckner says, “but he’s trying.”“Michael has had a voracious appetite for shoes for years, even when he’s just playing with the fellas,” Peters said.
Nike likely would be elated with Jordan’s return to the NBA. In Jordan’s absence, Shaquille O’Neal has become the top name in basketball shoes, and he’s under contract with Nike’s arch-rival, Reebok.