On my computer, I always have “light bulbs.” Stuff that is written on there that doesn’t mean anything at that particular time, but I’ll have an idea and think “yeah that could be something’ so I put it in the “light bulb folder.”

“In the light bulb folder, I had an idea- create the sounds of the game, create the sounds of basketball from squeaks, swishes, and whistles. And that was it, that was all I had written down.”

Some time later on when I was at Wieden & Kennedy, Dan Wieden put me together with Dr. John Jay, the creative director, to make something new.

The genius of Dan Wieden was putting us together.

At first I was thinking, “How is this going to work?”

Dr. John Jay was an Asian cat. I didn’t think he knew a rat’s ass about anything basketball related because he’s a short Asian dude.

I’m thinking, “What do the Chinese know about basketball?”

We ended up creating some of the most revolutionary basketball work.

That’s where I learned a whole heck of a lot. It showed me how little I knew.

The result was the Nike Freestyle campaign.

Nike Freestyle is the commercial where great athletes are bouncing a basketball to a particular rhythm – a hip-hop beat, created by the basketballs, sneakers, and the game.

The radio spots featured freestyle rappers rapping about the shoes over the sounds of the game.

I would bring in the hip-hop producers and say, “You can do anything you want to. You can create any beats you want. I don’t care what it is, but you can’t use anything but a basketball, sneakers, squeaks, and swishes. It’s all got to be from the sounds of basketball. I don’t care about anything else.”

Then the rapper would come in and freestyle rap.

In hip-hop when you’re battling against somebody, it’s just top of the head. It depends on what’s happening, what’s going on, that you come up with whatever you’re going to say, whatever you’re going to spit.

In the game of basketball, what does a defender do? What is happening in the action? Often times you can’t predict what’s going to happen, but when it happens you react instinctively – you’re freestyling on the court. Some things go the way you expect them to, but often times you’re freestyling on the court.

“I took the freestyle hip-hop and the freestyle basketball and put those two together.”

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Jimmy Smith, Founder and CEO of Amusement Park Entertainment, has earned countless awards for his work as a Writer and Creative Director for Nike at Wieden + Kennedy, Executive Creative Director at BBDO and most recently, Gatorade’s Group Creative Director at TBWAChiatDay LA.