CHICAGO -- Before he could pack up for Brazil to represent the U.S. basketball team in the 2016 Summer Olympics, NBA star Paul George had to complete a swimming event off the coast of Miami.
It wasn't a competition but a commercial shoot for Jeep, partner of USA Basketball, the sanctioning body in charge of selecting and training the U.S. team for international tournaments.
"Being from Southern California, I'm familiar with the ocean and the beach, but I'm not a person that likes to get in the water," said George, who is featured in two 30-second TV spots for Jeep along with a series of digital-video vignettes with his mother and friends. "That was actually my first time swimming in the ocean, so there were some barriers that had to be broken. But it made for a great shoot."
The commercials help Jeep break some barriers, too. While Jeep is not a sponsor of the Rio de Janeiro games, the USA Basketball partnership has allowed the brand to align with some of the sport's most high-profile athletes in the months leading up to the Olympics.
This is Jeep's third such summer ad push. George, a forward for the Indiana Pacers, joins Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2014) and Los Angeles Clippers floor general Chris Paul (2012) among Jeep's basketball pitchmen.