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Ads on NBA Jerseys: An Abomination

March 1st, 2018 · 1 Comment · Basketball, Lakers, NBA

I knew this was coming. I read the stories in which the spineless commissioner Adam Silver said it was on the way … and shook my head.

And now it is here, and most of Season 1 of The New Thing is done … and I hate the advertisements that appear on the left shoulder of NBA players.

A league swimming in cash (average club value: $1.36 billion), in which exactly zero teams are losing money and the average player salary is just shy of $6 million … felt some weird, stupid urge to add ads to its teams’ jerseys.

Making the NBA the first to sell space on player jerseys in the country’s four big leagues.

At the moment, the ad is 2.5 square inches, so it is almost possible not to notice it is there.

But rest assured of this: Ads on jerseys never get smaller. They just get bigger and bolder and more obnoxious.

Want to know what NBA jerseys will look like in 10 years?

Take a look at a pro soccer match. Where the biggest name on on the “shirt” of every player is a sponsor.

Premier League leader Manchester City, for example, is pleased to let its players cavort in shirts that, from the front, read “Etihad Airlines” and includes a Nike swoosh on one shoulder and something called Nexen Tire is the Premier League’s “first official sleeve partner.”

Curious at all about what team the player is working for? In the Premier League, the only hint from the front side is the team “badge” (or logo) — which is typically unreadable while watching on TV and certainly unreadable from the stands.

Not until a player is walking away can you get his number (big and bold) and, across his shoulders, his name.

And this is just one prominent soccer club in a one prominent league. There are others that carry garish ads for sports betting firms (half a dozen, in a given season) and at least one firm that is essentially a legal loansharking business.

That is what NBA fans can look forward to. That “Rakuten” on the Golden State Warriors’ jerseys? It way be 2.5 square inches now, but for another few million dollars it will grow, and tradition jersey information will shrink.

Many of my complaints are recapped (and expanded) in this op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times. (The Lakers are linked with “Wish” — an ex-commerce company. I’m sure that extra $10-or-so million will make them contenders.)

One of the most salient complaints is how the current additional revenue … is a drop in the bucket.

Clubs seem to be getting $5-10 million, which is nothing in the NBA — but is something when taken out of the pockets of fans.

Also, clubs are going to become accustomed to that extra money, and will feel like they can add to it only by selling more ad space. That is how it works.

Ads on jerseys? Ugly. Crude. Unnecessary. And it is what Nascar does — which the NBA should never want to emulate.





1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Joseph D'Hippolito // Apr 18, 2018 at 9:08 PM

    Agree wholeheartedly. But beyond the ads, the NBA jerseys (outside of the Lakers’, Celtics’ and Knicks’ traditional designs) are downright ugly, with no sense of class or imagination. They look like a robot produced them. Same with most of the MLS crests. All of those are a variation on a theme.

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