When he took command of the NBA, Adam Silver heated up the debate over the inclusion of brands on basketball jerseys. Silver was one of the top negotiators of the league’s last lockout – the team owners’ strike while discussing the new collective bargaining agreement and distribution of profits between teams and players – and one of their missions was that of making the cake grow to distribute a larger Slice for everyone involved.
The agreement negotiated by Silver already foresees the possibility of the shirts of teams to mark and turns and stirs the executive declares that it is an unavoidable reality. Shirts are sold all over the world and getting advertisers to the 30 teams would be a formidable way to increase revenue and get more money for team and player owners.
The twisting mass is quite sturdy. There is a fear that the deals will seduce league executives and, at some point, the uniforms will become real billboards, as in some football clubs or even European basketball.
I see no reason for so much fanfare or fear. First, the league is, in general, absolutely conscious of the weight of its image and marketing is an institution that guides practically all the actions of the sport in the USA. Guys know the weight a Chicago Bulls shirt has on the whole world, for example. Filling it with ads is out of the question.
Another point is this: when these ads are finally put on the team shirts, they will be quite discreet. To this day, neither the brand of Adidas, the official manufacturer of the uniforms, is printed on the shirts, in an attempt to keep the jerseys immaculate.
What is said is that they will be’patches’, similar to those that have already been tested in promotional games and All Star Game, something like a discreet seal near the sleeve or the back. Nothing too tragic, is there?
Moreover, the’inevitable reality’ of Silver’s words does not seem to happen in the very near future. At the end of last year, in an interview with Zach Lowe, Adam Silver said the league still does not know how to release the advertisements without threatening the balance between the franchises.
The draft system, profit sharing, salary cap, and team allocation is guided primarily by the attempt to maintain a balanced league among the 30 teams.Simply freeing the negotiation of the teams with the marks would make this parity threatened – how much is an advertisement on the Los Angeles Lakers jersey and how much is it worth in the Minnesota Timberwolves uniform?
In the interview, Silver is exhaustive: there is no possibility of uniforms stamping brands as long as a balanced division system is not found.
In the face of so many questions, I find it very difficult for ads to spoil the T-shirts. There is no reason to panic.