If the NBA can sell it, they will. It is becoming harder and harder to escape its commercialization. As part of the commodification of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, the ESPN sports network even aired a national MLK Day NBA game.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) sports cartel announced April 15 that it had approved a three-year pilot program to allow teams to sell a corporate logo on their jerseys.
National Basketball Association teams will be able to sell advertising space on their jerseys starting from the 2017-18 season, the league said on Friday.
The NBA said a small patch will appear on the front left of the game jerseys as part of a three-year pilot program.
The other side will be reserved for the Swoosh logo of the Nike monopoly, which manufactures jerseys for the league. The logo is already on NFL jerseys and the visible collar of MLB undershirts.
In March 2015 Adidas announced that they would not seek to prolong their 11-year apparel deal with the NBA. Nike jumped in, inking a deal estimated to be worth a cool billion over an eight year contract – approximately a 245 per cent annual increase from the previous deal.
Nike has been a marketing partner of the NBA since 1992, and at retail, produced replica jerseys under the Swingman line. As is well known, basketball shoes are highly commercialized, with the market divided between Nike, adidas and company. Nike and its affiliated brands control more than 90 per cent of the U.S. basketball shoe market at retail. Clay Skipper writes in CQ:
Nike already pseudo-sponsors the league. The NBA is a league built on stars, sneakers, and stars’ sneakers. Nike endorses Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Carmelo Anthony, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Blake Griffin (the last two via Nike-owned Jordan). According to HoopsHype, as of August 2014, there were 283 NBA players (roughly 60 per cent of the league) wearing Nikes (and 39 more from Jordan) to Adidas’ 70, and of the top ten game-worn shoes among NBA players, Nike has seven (Adidas has two, and UnderArmour, thanks to now-MVP Steph Curry, has one).
Selling logos could create a huge source of revenue, as advertisement prices would be extremely high, “especially if Nike reinvents the jerseys every season as a way to make you buy more of their gear, a la Apple and chargers.”
In 2012, then commissioner David Stern said that the NBA predicted the revenue of the league to be $5 billion in the 2011-2012 season, which would be a 20 per cent increase from the previous season. Now this cartel is worth $37.5 billion dollars and is growing rapidly.
“Nike is clearly making a brand play with the NBA being more globally popular than most other sports – especially in China,” Skipper reported. “This partnership with Nike represents a new paradigm in the structure of our global merchandising business,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement in June 2015. “As our exclusive oncourt apparel provider, Nike will be instrumental in our collective efforts to grow the game globally while applying the latest in technology to the design of our uniforms and oncourt products.”
The NBA’s 30 teams will be responsible for selling their own jersey sponsorships and the patches will measure approximately 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches.
“Jersey sponsorships provide deeper engagement with partners looking to build a unique association with our teams and the additional investment will help grow the game in exciting new ways,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver offered as rationalization.
This drives athletes to play for the money and not the love of the game. In the past, athletes played most of their career with the franchise that drafted them and even settled down and raised their families in that city. Now, it is considered exceptional that Kobe Bryant played his entire career for one team.
NBA promos use the slogan “I love this game.” The simple reference to “the game” legitimizes NBA’s practices.
Robert Goldman and Stephen Papson pointed out in Nike Culture: The Sign of the Swoosh that it means “I love this stuff – NBA-branded clothing.”
With files from teleSUR, CQ and EPSN.