NBA Saturday: No Ads On NBA Uniforms
The Sad Inevitability of Ads on Uniforms
Back in July, when NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver made it known that advertisements were likely due to appear on team uniforms starting in the 2013-14 season, a lot was made about what a patch on the lapel of a jersey would do to the purity of the game. There was also a lot made of the fact that a whole lot of cash could be generated by selling that little two-by-two inch swath of prime real estate.
So, which side is right? The side that wants to earn the extra cash, or the side that wants to keep the jerseys free of corporate logos?
Both have fair points, but from a simple aesthetic perspective, these patches are going to make NBA uniforms very, very hard to look at. Of the four major U.S. sports, basketball has the least amount of open uniform space with which to work, so plugging up that little bit of leftover negative space can look clunky, especially when it’s not a patch thematically tied to the team’s logos or color scheme.
Beyond how it looks, however, there’s a certain level of tradition attached to some uniforms that would be broken if tainted by corporate logos. The Boston Celtics, for example, are wearing essentially the same uniforms now that were worn by John Havlicek and Bill Russell and Larry Bird, athletes that have meant almost as much to that city as Samuel Adams and Paul Revere. Selling space on those iconic jerseys would feel like selling away a four-square-inch chunk of the Boston city flag to Citgo.
Some things in sports are sacred, and the purity of the uniforms worn on the court is one of them. Arguments have been made that since the English Premier League pulled in $178 million two years ago just by putting sponsors on the chests of its teams’ jerseys, the NBA should have no problem trading a much smaller bit of real estate for what the league estimates could be $100 million. However, soccer matches don’t air anywhere near as many television commercials as the NBA does, making those sorts of in-game ads more necessary. What the NBA is suggesting is doubling up on TV ad revenue from commercial breaks, as well as TV ad revenue during the actual games. Because that’s what we need—advertising that’s even more ubiquitous.
Counted as Basketball Related Income, half of that $100 million-ish would actually trickle down to the players, but none of it is likely to trickle down to the fans, who just so happen to be the most likely group to be upset about this whole thing.
And that’s the other argument—isn’t there a possibility that a fan of Derrick Rose might not be a fan of, say, Oscar Mayer? Or even if they’re indifferent about hot dogs, is there a chance that fans might not want to buy a jersey with a meat logo on the lapel?
While it’s true fans of NASCAR has had no problem buying Home Depot gear for Tony Stewart, and the big Herbalife logo across the chest of the L.A Galaxy’s jerseys hasn’t stopped soccer fans from making David Beckham’s digs the best-selling shirt in MLS, that doesn’t mean the NBA should cave and turn their own uniforms into billboards, as well.
Some things are sacred, and a professional sports uniform is one them. While it is certainly within the rights of the league and its 30 teams to sell uniform space, it simply doesn’t seem like good taste to do so. Ads on NBA game jerseys looks like an inevitability at this point, but it’s not one fans have to look forward to, and it’s certainly not one that they have to like.
What To Expect Out of Chicago in 2012-2013
As the guy that covers the Bulls, I get a lot of questions from readers, family, and friends about how I think the upcoming season is going to go for Chicago. I’m honestly getting pretty tired of saying, over and over again, “Not good.”
It’s not all bad, though. Luol Deng has reportedly told the team that he will not need surgery to repair his injured wrist after all. After the Olympics he said, “Did I look like I needed (surgery)? I’m fine right now. I feel great. There are a lot of things I want to improve in my game that I want to focus on now. I want to be a better player than I was last year.”
So on the bright side, Chicago probably will not have to start the season without both of their All-Stars, and as the longest-tenured player on the team, Deng’s presence while D-Rose heals is going to be integral in salvaging a playoff-worthy season.
Other than that little bit of good news, however, things have not gone well for the Bulls the last several months. Setting aside Rose’s injury, which will keep him out of most—if not all—of the regular season, Chicago also lost the bulk of its “Bench Mob,” which featured a second unit anchored by Omer Asik, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, and C.J. Watson. The chemistry between those guys and Taj Gibson was palpable, but now the Bulls face a season with an odd mix of cast-off veterans like Nazr Mohammed, Marco Belinelli, Vladimir Radmanovic, and Nate Robinson. Kirk Hinrich isn’t exactly a spring chicken at this point in his career either, which means even another stellar coaching job by Tom Thibodeau might not be enough to keep this team competitive.
In fact, the team’s capitulation to mediocrity this offseason appears to have signaled how strongly they feel about its chances without Derrick Rose. They’re a tax payer this year for the first time ever, but if they thought there was a real shot at a ring they would’ve flirted with the idea of going well beyond $4 million above the tax limit.
The Bulls play good enough defense under Thibodeau and have enough supplementary talent to make the playoffs with or without Derrick Rose. They proved for long stretches last year that they can play relatively well without him. However, last season there was always the knowledge that Rose’s nagging this and sprained that would heal in due time, that Daddy would come home any minute and make everything better, but that optimism is absent this year. In 2012-2013, this team will have to scrape and claw for every single win, and that’s a hard way to be competitive in the postseason.
They might still be better than Orlando and Charlotte and Atlanta, but they’re not markedly better than Toronto or Washington or Milwaukee, and that’s what makes this upcoming season look so daunting. They don’t have their MVP, they still don’t have the great shooting guard they’d hoped to get in Richard Hamilton, Carlos Boozer has chronically underperformed since coming to Chicago, and Joakim Noah has said his ankle, injured in last season’s postseason, still isn’t all the way healed.
What can we expect out of this upcoming Chicago Bulls season? A lot of frustration and a lot of middle-of-the-road basketball, at least until Rose comes back. If he’s healthy and rolling by the playoffs, things could get exciting around here in a hurry, but it would be foolish to count on that. This team has a long way to go to be considered championship contenders again, and that road to regaining respect doesn’t even get started until D-Rose suits back up in the spring.