CLEVELAND - LeBron James huddles with teammates before each game, pulling them close to deliver a message. In a new TV commercial, James does the same to bring an entire city together.
To celebrate James' homecoming in Cleveland, Nike launched a stirring advertisement on Thursday to coincide with the Cavaliers' season opener against the New York Knicks. James returned to the Cavs this summer after four years in Miami, coming back to Northeast Ohio to try and end the city's 50-year drought without a pro sports championship.
Filmed in black and white, the two-minute ad titled "Together" (http://youtu.be/n6S1JoCSVNU ) opens with James being introduced before a home game. As the team gathers at midcourt, James implores his teammates — including a cameo by all-star guard Kyrie Irving — to work hard. He tells them they "owe" Cleveland something. Fans begin trickling down to the floor to join the Cavs in a tight circle as others flock from around the city to Quicken Loans Arena.
Soon, Clevelanders, their arms wrapped around each other's shoulders, bob and chant in unison with James in the middle of them.
The commercial, set to debut during the telecast of the opener, includes exterior shots of some Cleveland landmarks like The Q, Terminal Tower and restaurants along East Fourth Street. There are cameos by James' mom, Gloria, and his high school coach, Dru Joyce, as well as children from the star's family foundation.
Browns cornerback Joe Haden said he was moved by the ad.
"I watched it before practice so I went out there and practiced a little harder," Haden said. "It was so sweet, just the way he's basically saying he's doing it for the city."
Haden said James wanting to bring a championship to Cleveland is something his Browns teammates want to do, too.
"For the best player in the world that left and then came back, for him to show that to Cleveland and the fans, I think that's really special," he said.
Haden was one of several Browns players expected to attend the Knicks game.
In addition with the season opener, the Nike ad is timed with the launch of James' new shoe, the LeBron 12 Hrt of a Lion, which retails for $200.