NBA debuts short film “The Heist” to fuel anticipation for inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament

NEW YORK – The National Basketball Association (NBA) today announced the global premiere of “THE HEIST,” the league’s brand campaign celebrating the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament, which tips off on Friday, Nov. 3.

“THE HEIST” cast includes seven NBA All-Stars – Anthony Davis, DeMar DeRozan, Darius Garland, Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard, Julius Randle and Trae Young – alongside Emmy Award-winning actor Michael Imperioli, as they execute an elaborate scheme to steal the first-ever NBA Cup.  “THE HEIST” is streaming now across all @NBA social platforms and on the NBA App.

“THE HEIST showcases the NBA’s newest annual tradition to fans through a fun and familiar story arc,” said NBA Chief Marketing Officer Tammy Henault.  “The film introduces the tournament framework through the lens of an elaborate heist, ultimately ushering in this new competition that will add yet another layer of energy and excitement to the NBA calendar.”

Set in a Las Vegas casino, the film begins with Michael Imperioli hatching a plan for “something that’s never been done before – 30 teams, one NBA Cup.”  Such high stakes will require a team with a special set of skills and a calculated strategy. As he unfurls the plan, he introduces the NBA stars, each with their own technique to grab the Cup for their squad.

As Anthony Davis sits at a blackjack table, he flips a three-of-clubs card toward the In-Season Tournament bracket – a nod to the Lakers forward’s jersey number.

In the distance, DeMar DeRozan, dressed in a smooth black and white suit, traverses the casino floor inconspicuously light on his feet, similar to how he plays his game.  As DeRozan enters an elevator, he runs into Trae Young, a “guy with ice water in his veins,” a reference to the sharpshooting guard’s ability to make shots in clutch moments.  Both DeRozan and Young realize they’re after the same thing and chaos ensues.

Imperioli’s narration continues as he introduces a pair of laser-focused lookouts in Darius Garland and Julius Randle, hiding in plain sight in a stylish ride out front.

Disguised as a casino security guard, Draymond Green pushes a cart with the elusive NBA Cup hidden inside.  As Green navigates through security, into the kitchen and out to the casino lobby, his movements are picked up by inside man Kawhi Leonard and the others looking to take the Cup.  As the moment seems right to make “THE HEIST,” the NBA Cup is revealed next to Imperioli, stolen by the mastermind himself.  He turns and says, “looks like you’ll have to play for it,” as the players take in their missed opportunity and realize the fierce competition that lies ahead in the new NBA In-Season Tournament.

Click the image below to watch THE HEIST.

“THE HEIST” storyline will continue with additional chapters to debut ahead of the Knockout Rounds and Semifinals and Championship rounds featuring Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson alongside Imperioli. The spot will highlight the final race to the NBA Cup, as Johnson declares he is “all in” with an effortless flip of a poker chip.

Check out behind-the-scenes action here, showcasing the cast on set and discussing the filming of “THE HEIST.”  Created in conjunction with creative agency Translation, the spot was directed by Karim Huu Do and shot by cinematographer Chayse Irvin.  “THE HEIST” will air across 214 countries and territories and will be translated into more than 15 languages.  Additional :30-, :15- and :10-second versions will also air and the film will be supported across channels with complementary creative that will come to life in out-of-home, digital, social, audio and print assets.

The full cast of “THE HEIST” includes:

  • The Mastermind: Michael Imperioli (“Goodfellas,” “The Sopranos,” “The White Lotus” and more)
  • The Heavy: Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers)
  • The Sly Guy: DeMar DeRozan (Chicago Bulls)
  • The Ice Man: Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks)
  • The Lookouts: Julius Randle (New York Knicks) and Darius Garland (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  • The Vet: Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
  • The Inside Man: Kawhi Leonard (LA Clippers)

The inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament will tip off with Group Play on Friday, Nov. 3 in NBA team markets and culminate with single-elimination Semifinals (Dec. 7) and Championship (Dec. 9) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.  Broadcast partners ESPN and TNT will combine to air 14 games during Group Play.  The first Tournament Night (Nov. 3) will feature a doubleheader on ESPN with the Knicks visiting the Milwaukee Bucks at 7:30 p.m. ET, followed by the Denver Nuggets hosting the Dallas Mavericks at 10 p.m. ET.  More information about the In-Season Tournament is available here.