Sponsors, jersey logos, and the NBA

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Photo by Ronald Oswalt
Photo by Ronald Oswalt

As online gaming operators join the sponsorship market, will we finally see more corporate logos on NBA jerseys, taking a cue from several D-League teams?

While jersey sponsorships are the norm in international basketball, and the WNBA also now sells jersey sponsorships, we’re starting to see more and more D-League teams sport logos. It’s also very well known that the NBA treats the D-League as it’s R&D arm, so is there a chance NBA teams will have logos on their jerseys like the Texas Legends did during Sunday night’s game against the Toros. 

During the height of online gaming’s entry into the New Jersey market late last year, we saw the beginning of what could become conceivably become the norm in a few years’ time: online casino sponsorships of NBA teams. The Philadelphia 76ers were the first to enter into such a deal alongside the NHL’s New Jersey Devils.

The practice is relatively new in the US, but online casino sponsorship has become a tried and true tradition in Europe. So much so that it’s become a major factor in the money league list compiled by Deloitte every year. Online gaming operators constantly court high-profile soccer teams in bids to be what has become known as official online partners. The companies pour money into their sponsored teams’ development funds while reaping the increased exposure afforded by having their logos plastered on everywhere from team uniforms to stadiums.

“It’s basically the same as sponsorship deals in the US, except that over here there’s no advertising on jerseys. Well, not yet, anyway, because if the aforementioned deals prove fruitful then it may come to pass that we’ll see more teams sign up with online gaming operators. The Warriors or the Cavaliers, for example, might join with medieval-themed online casino site castlejackpot.com due to the whole medieval fighters theme in their names. Maybe even the Wizards could get in on that, with the Suns and the Thunder signing up with either an energy production or energy drink company.”

At the very least, it may reignite talk of corporate logos on team jerseys. You’ll remember that there was some talk about the NBA opening its arms to jersey sponsorships a few years ago. The league approached the possibility cautiously through limited deployment in its Development League teams in 2012. During that time, financial services company BBVA got its logo splashed across the back of team jerseys used in the D-League playoffs.

A number of teams also inked sponsorship deals of their own. The Springfield Armor, for example, rocked jerseys with the MGM Springfield logo. The Erie BayHawks and Rio Grande Valley Vipers signed similar sponsorship deals with LECOM and Lone Star National Back, respectively. The Toros have a partnership with supermarket chain H-E-B, although so far only our WNBA team, the Stars, has the sponsor logo on its official jersey.

While that particular experiment didn’t successfully reach the majors, that doesn’t mean it definitely won’t happen. Now that new corporate entities are entering the sponsor landscape, there’s no telling exactly what the future holds.

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