SBD/Issue 36/NBA Season Preview

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  • Top NBA Execs Discuss State Of The League As Season Tips Off

    Many believe the NBA is in the midst of a resurgence, with several teams able to compete for a championship, and the strengthening of Eastern Conference teams, the Celtics in particular, helping to balance the power between the two conferences.  And Commissioner David Stern touts record ticket sales and attendance, $7.4B in TV deals and strong sponsorship sales as indicators of the league's health.  But, of course, the NBA has its share of challenges. Just before last week's BOG meeting in N.Y., Bulls Exec VP/Business Operations Steve Schanwald, Suns President & CEO Rick Welts and Warriors President Robert Rowell discussed the state of the league with Managing Editor Marcus DiNitto. 

    Suns, Warriors Execs Looking Forward
    To Watching Teams' Style Of Play
    Q: What are you most looking forward to this season?

    Welts: We’re enjoying a lot of success on the court, which has been very good to our business. We were able to cut off season-ticket sales last spring, and enter the season with 71 consecutive sellouts, so we’ll add three preseason games and another 41 consecutive sellouts to that.   I think just from a pure excitement standpoint, the anticipation in our market and interest in the NBA is probably as high as it’s been anytime in the 40-year history of the Suns franchise. That’s definitely a result of the product we’re putting on the floor, but also, I hope, a little bit of a game changer in terms of the style of play in the NBA.

    Rowell: I’m looking forward to getting the season started and building on some of the momentum that we were able to capture towards the end of last season. The Warriors for about a 15-day period had the nation pretty spell-bound with what we were able to do in beating Dallas and the level and the style of play that our team brings on a nightly basis. And I think I echo what Rick says that style of play is very similar to what Phoenix does, and I think we’re going to have some fun games this year with teams like the Suns and the Mavericks and some of the other teams in our conference.

    Schanwald: A lot of the same things apply in Chicago. We’ve been wandering the desert for about -- well this is the tenth anniversary of our last championship actually -- and we’ve been climbing the mountain slowly but surely and have had a lot of young draft picks that are ready to come into their own; and so I [look forward to continuing to go] back to the glory days back in the '90s; it’s been a while. Our young kids are ready to mature and take the next step. Last year we swept the Heat in the first round and got beat by Detroit, and hopefully we can take it another step this year.

    Q: Let me go back to Steve and Bob’s point about the rejuvenated style of play in the NBA. During Phil Jackson’s Hall of Fame induction, he put forth the notion that NBA players are really outgrowing the court.  How do you respond to that?
    Welts: I think that has been a point that only has been made for about the last 40 years. We’re starting a center that is maybe 6' 10" [Amare Stoudemire]. He’s more of a forward than he is a center. Think about how many big men there are in the game today. I think it’s smaller than anytime in the history of the NBA. I think the incredibly, physically gifted athlete who can play two or three positions now is kind of the new model NBA player.  I think we see more versatile players, more athleticism in players than we ever have before.

    Schanwald: It kind of started with Magic Johnson and Scottie Pippen. A lot of it was accelerated a couple years ago when the league initiated some rule changes, which encouraged more ball and player movement and better spacing. I think the coaches responded to that and have made for a more interesting and more beautiful and more graceful product for our fans to watch.

    Rowell: I’ll address it on kind of a different note. I think one of the great things about our game is the intimacy of our arenas and the fact that the fans are on top of our game and our players are visible and we don’t wear helmets and the players are out there in front of everyone. I think if you changed some of the operational things with respect to what Phil Jackson talked about, you’d have some problems in a lot of our more modern arenas that were built for basketball.

    Q: What do you think the most pressing issue facing the league right now is?

    Schanwald: It’s not unique to the NBA, but for every sports league, because when something affects one sports league, it kind of rubs off on all of us. But the image of professional athletes. The image of our players. That is I think the most pressing issue facing all sports leagues today, and it’s something that I know the NBA works extremely hard at. I don’t know if anybody on the outside could understand how hard every individual team and how hard the league as a whole works to ensure that its players understand the importance of being involved in the community, of doing charitable work in the community, not only in the Chicago community.  In our case, Luol Deng is the guy who does charitable work around the world, focusing on Darfur. And so unfortunately, it’s a reality of our business that when bad things happen, there tends to be a lot more attention focused on that than all the good things that are going on. But I can assure you the good things, in terms of our players, far outweigh the bad.The second thing would be just the economics of our business. And just ensuring that every team has the ability to field a competitive product and to operate in a way where in doing that it won’t lose money.

    Welts: I was a media relations director for an NBA team in the late '70s, and I really try to have people understand what a different environment our players are operating in today than what they were then. I really don’t believe that players in any court are misbehaving or doing anything any worse than historically has been the case in any industry. We are feeding an unbelievable appetite for celebrity in our country and anyone who has celebrity is subject to personal scrutiny today that was never a part of sports or any industry in the past. We can’t complain about it. We just have to adjust to it, because it’s a reality.

    Rowell: I echo what Rick says, because to me our biggest challenges are managing content, and dealing with access. Those are two areas that in order to grow in our business we have to develop new measures and new ways in which to generate content and get access to that content. And the other thing is we have to accept the fact that if someone does something, it will be covered in the media. It will be out there whether it’s good or bad. We also have to manage how we better use that technology so that our players are positioned in the best possible light.

    Panel Says Donaghy Incident Had Little
    Effect On Selling Tickets, Sponsorships
    Q: What types of communication have you had with your season-ticket holders, corporate customers and sponsors regarding the Tim Donaghy situation? And have any of these constituents expressed concern about the integrity of the game?

    Rowell: I did one interview with one of the media outlets in the area and essentially it was very simple. I think the league handled the communication of the Tim Donaghy situation very well. It was one individual who basically put himself in a position where he disrespected and disregarded the hard work of everyone else in this league from players to management to ownership to the fans. It’s actually disgusting, but it’s one person. I think we’ve all moved on. We communicated to our fans if they wanted to talk to us, we called them back.

    Schanwald: There were not a lot of calls at all at our office from either sponsors or season-ticket holders. It has had absolutely no impact on our ability to sell tickets successfully. I do think the unfortunate consequence of that situation is that whenever there are questionable calls it’s just going to open up that referee to more scrutiny, unfair scrutiny, but that’s an unfortunate consequence of the situation. As far as communications, we basically communicated that we were on the same page as the league and communicated to our fans and our constituencies what the league was communicating.

    Welts: The league I think did a great job in giving us as much information as was available.  The story came out before the facts were really together, before the league was really allowed to be upfront with the issue. The NBA’s normally very upfront with issues. … We all have developed very good communication systems through e-mail and our Web sites and talked to our season-ticket holders and our other fans on a very regular basis; anything that was communicated to the teams was immediately communicated. And that’s all people really want to know.

    Q: The NFL is playing a game in London this weekend; the NHL began their season with two regular-season games there. The NBA had four teams in Europe and two teams in China for preseason games. How important in a league’s efforts to grown internationally is it to play authentic, regular-season games, as opposed to exhibition games, abroad?

    Welts: It depends very much on the market. It’s different depending on where you go. The games that we’re doing in Europe right now are serving a tremendous value.  It’s a cultural issue and it does vary from market to market. If you had a whole bunch of money you wanted to invest in sports franchises today, I believe you would place your bet in an NBA franchise because it is going to continue to increase in value perhaps at a rate faster than the other leagues in the future. We inherited the opportunity [because of the game's popularity internationally], but we can’t say we created the opportunity. I think the real measure of our league is going to be if we’re up to taking complete advantage of that opportunity.

    Rowell: The other unique aspect of our international plate has been that we’ve been able to play other international teams as well as other international clubs. You don’t see some of the other sports taking their team overseas to play other football teams, because they’re aren’t any, whereas our game is comprised of a lot of international players representing multiple countries. The opportunity is here, it’s now, and I think the league has done a fantastic job of taking advantage of the opportunity and they began that years ago.

    Q: What about Mark Cuban’s point that there are U.S. markets that need to be cultivated before the NBA looks overseas? Do you buy that at all?

    Schanwald: I have full faith in David [Stern] and his team in New York to make those kinds of judgments. I think you market to everybody. I feel like we have the best commissioner in the history of sports, he put together a hell of a game and they’ve done a hell of a job growing this sport over the last 25 years when the NBA was on its deathbed. So I have full confidence in their ability to market not only domestically but internationally, and I think you have to focus on both.

    Welts: They’re not mutually exclusive. There’s no reason they have to be. I think as we’re looking long term, while we’re never going to take our eye off the domestic product, it’d be hard to argue that the opportunity that exists in the international market isn’t much bigger than incremental value of U.S. markets.

    Q: You’re in a meeting with ESPN and TNT executives. What one suggestion do you make to help them increase ratings?

    Rowell: That’s an important question, but I’m going to bring up another subject. We play 82 games in the regular season. We broadcast 70-plus of our Warrior games. There’s a lot of emphasis on ratings. I think again you’ve got to go back to access and content. Those networks are the same networks that have pregame shows, halftime shows and "SportsCenter." Our product is probably more visible now than it’s ever been to the consumer. I think sometimes the focus on ratings is overrated.

    Welts: We do every game that isn’t taken by one of our national broadcasts and we broadcast it in the Phoenix market. I think the greatest area for improvement is in our local broadcasting that would make the biggest difference as opposed to our national partners, who I think we would agree are doing a pretty darn good job.

    Q: So at the team level are you ever asked for input on the national TV product?

    Schanwald: Yeah, we have a team advisory committee. … All the team president’s get together at least once or twice a year and talk about various league issues.

    Warriors Cashing In On Last Season's Playoff Run
    Q: Bob, the Warriors have had a great offseason selling season tickets. To what degree to you attribute that to beating the Mavericks in the playoffs last year and having a really good end of the season and what other factors come into play there?

    Rowell: We have been fortunate in this area to have a wonderful fan base and have had it for many years. They were just hungry for a product. We’ve been able to sell season-tickets at a pretty good clip over the course of the past seven or eight years. And primarily because I think I have a pretty good sales staff and the people that work for me that push our brand. And we have family entertainment that I think is second to none in the Bay Area, and it’s just an atmosphere that’s created in the building. But once the product finally caught up, we were able to take advantage of the success that we gained in the playoffs.  That was the first time we’d been in the playoffs for 12 seasons. So you didn’t just have hungry fans, you had famished fans that were just dying to see some playoff action.

    We’ve been working hard all summer long to create something for everyone. And we added a new amenity to our building called Club 200, which is basically a rebrand of the entire upper level.  It will no longer be called the "Upper Level" or some of the other connotations it may have had in the past. We built two kid zones and a lot of interactive things for kids and adults. I think we were able to take advantage of an opportunity, and we’ve been waiting to take advantage of that.

    Q: How are offseason sales for Rick and Steve?

    Schanwald: Ticket sales for us are great. We’re not back to where we ended the Jordan-era yet, but we’re close. It’s the highest it’s been since Jordan retired. We’ll sell out every game again this year; we sold out every game last year, so we’ve got a streak of 49 straight going into this season. We’re well-positioned to be successful not only this year but, because we’re such a young team, well into the future. The last sell-out streak we had lasted 13 years, and I hope we can go 14 with this one.

    Welts: We are coming off again another very successful season. We were able, as I mentioned before, to cut off season-ticket sales. We wanted to keep some available for both groups. Our learning in our league is that that’s a smarter way to go about it. We’ve been able again to take a page out of some of the other teams and build something called the THX Club. You pay $100 to be a part of our waiting list, and you get a lot of amenities that go along with that, but it also secures you a place in line that allows you to buy tickets when they do become available. We’ve had three teams in our area that have had tremendous success, but I think the better story in our league is how many teams could be around this table telling you exactly the same story.

    Q: Have any of you experimented or used the “influencer parties” that Brett Yormark started at the Nets to some degree of success?

    Rowell: I think those are called season-tickets sales events, and I think we all started them about ten years ago.

    Q: So I’m wrong in crediting Brett with that?

    Rowell, with all three laughing: Didn’t say that.

    Schanwald: Give him credit for creating amazing public relations value around a very important way to get new clients. I think we all admire what they’ve been able to do. But I think some version of that, hopefully, every team is going to have success.

    Q: There’s been an emphasis on selling premium services like courtside seats, trips on the team plane. What are your teams doing creatively in these areas?

    Rowell: Again, it’s access. Your fans who have been with you for a long time want the opportunity to be a part of something on the inside. And it’s up to all of us, and I think as a league we’ve been able to be successful and be creative and figure out ways to get people involved and give them the opportunity to get more access to our product, to our players, to our environment, to different people. I think it comes in the form of the bunker suites, it comes in the form of private clubs and amenities you have in your building, and it comes in the form of being creative with the space that you have to deal with in your buildings and in your arenas, and I think that our teams have done a fantastic job in being creative with those resources.

    Schanwald: We’ve been sending out a high-quality, four-color magazine for the 20 years that I’ve been with the Bulls (to all season-ticket holders). We haven’t let season-ticket holders on a charter or anything like that. We haven’t had the ability to build bunker suites in our building, but we just added six courtside seats a year ago.   And if I can return the kudos to Rick … he helped us maximize the revenues from our floor seating. Six seats selling at $2,500 per seat, per game for the whole season. And [that's in addition to] the number of other floor seats that we have, and were able to maximize revenues there.

    Welts: Every team has many more products like that then we had five or six years ago. They are specialized products targeted to a specific group with a certain set of amenities that have appeal -- not to a huge number of people -- but to enough people to make our premium inventory really what it should be. You can go to an NBA game for the same price as a movie ticket in any one of our markets. I think the goal of all 30 of us in this position is to make our season-ticket holders feel like insiders.  As a league, I think we were at 88[%] season-ticket renewals, which was an all-time record for us.

    Q: Where do you all see revenue sharing heading?

    Schanwald: It is a very complex issue, I think that all of us here have confidence that David, [NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO] Adam Silver and [Celtics CEO & Managing Partner] Wyc Grousbeck, who is heading up that committee, will get us to the right place eventually. There’s an awful lot of components on this that have to be weighed.  It’s very complex because a lot of questions have to be answered. Did we expand into markets that can’t support the current NBA business model? If we did, how then do you explain San Antonio, or how do you explain Portland when they were going good way back in the day?

    But I do want to point out that there is already substantial revenue sharing in the league. An awful big part of our revenues comes from national TV money, which is shared equally. A big chunk of money comes from licensing revenues which is shared equally. I do know that a big chunk of our budget is divided equally among all the teams. And the question has to be answered by the committee, "Is it a revenue problem? Or is it an expense problem?"

    Welts: We don’t want to reward bad management. And we have every year tried to refine our understanding of what are the factors within a market that lead to success for an NBA franchise. Be able to measure those market by market and try to figure out what we can apply, what we can learn from our history in terms of how teams have performed. And we want to make sure that we’re not rewarding bad management. We want to make sure that we have our teams operating as well as the possibly can, or close to it. It is the issue for every sports league every year, and will be, I can guarantee you, for every year going forward.

    Q: Should the weighting system of the draft lottery be changed to minimize the perception that teams are tanking games late in the season?

    Schanwald: The draft lottery is as perfect a system as you can possibly get it to be. It should absolutely not be [changed].

    Rowell: I agree with Steve.

    Welts: I think it’s fine as it can be. I thought it was absolutely wonderful that the teams this year that had the 4th, 5th and 6th best chances in the lottery ended up with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd choices. I thought that was fantastic.

    Q: But let’s be honest. There were some teams that were putting forth less than their best efforts [toward the end of last season].

    Welts: Were those teams rewarded for that?

    Q: No.

    Welts: So our system doesn’t guarantee really any benefits. As a fan I love that. I love knowing that there’s no benefit to tanking games.

    Q: Should the first-round of the playoffs be changed to best of five?

    Welts: No. You’re talking to revenue guys. Absolutely not. Why would you take two games away from the fans? I mean the fans have been with you all season long, rooting for the team to get in the playoffs. Let’s make it fun.

    Bulls Exec Feels Deng Deserves
    More Attention From Fans
    THE DAILY: Name one player on each of your rosters who people should be paying more attention to?

    Schanwald: Luol Deng.

    Rowell: Baron Davis.

    Welts: Leandro Barbosa.

    Q: We will see an NBA overseas expansion by what year?

    Welts: I don’t think in my business lifetime we will see an NBA franchise placed internationally. I think a more likely scenario is other leagues that we are either operating or affiliated with.

    Schanwald: I agree with Rick. I think it’s far more likely that you’re going to have an NBA China, and an NBA Europe and maybe an NBA South America and at some point there will be a round-robin tournament between the NBA champion and the champion of those other leagues. I just don’t know if travel-wise and currently -- as [Stern] has said -- arena-wise if it’s going to happen in our professional lifetime a 31st team added to the league that is based in China or based in Europe.

    Q: One team executive, outside of the NBA, who you all really admire?

    Welts: Tod Leiweke.

    Rowell: Bob Kraft.

    Schanwald: I really admire the job they’ve done in Boston of maximizing revenues at their tiny little ballpark of theirs and dominating the entire New England area. So whoever is responsible for that -- John Henry and Larry Lucchino.

  • NBA Media: Bobcats Could Swap Carriage For Naming Rights

    Bobcats Could Tie Arena Naming
    Rights To Deal With Time Warner Cable
    Time Warner's potential naming rights deal for Bobcats Arena could see the team “freed from their deal with the cable company” that has a majority of the team's games on News Channel 14, according to sources of Scott & Bonnell of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. The team's deal with Time Warner has seven years remaining. A move to FSN "would give the Bobcats wider viewership in the Charlotte region and throughout the Carolinas and also allow those with satellite television to see games.” A source said that the Bobcats' current TV deal “is sufficiently problematic that NBA executives, including Commissioner David Stern, have been involved in addressing the situation” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/31).

    MAGIC: In Florida, John Denton reports negotiations between Florida FSN, which will air almost half the Magic's games this season, and Bright House Networks "came to a stalemate" yesterday, meaning "there will be no Magic TV coverage" in most of Central Florida for tonight's home opener against the Bucks. The "sticking points are how much Bright House will pay FSN for its content and also Bright House demanding that FSN be only on the digital cable package." Sun Sports & Florida FSN VP & GM Cathy Weeden said the net "will continue to be available to work though and discuss opportunities as much as Bright House will make themselves available to do the same." Magic COO Alex Martins said that the franchise unsuccessfully "tried to help" the two sides agree (FLORIDA TODAY, 10/31).

    BLAZERS: With Comcast SportNet Northwest launching tomorrow, John Ourand writes in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL that there is a “good chance” the net will be “available only to Comcast subscribers.” The net has “failed to cut carriage deals” with any other cable operators or with satellite providers DirecTV and EchoStar. If no other deals are reached, the channel will launch “on expanded basic to nearly 600,000 of Comcast’s 1.7 million subscribers in Washington and Oregon” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/29 issue).

    RAPTORS: In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich notes all 82 Raptors games this season “will be televised in Canada for the third straight year, but will be shared by five networks,” including CBC, which is set to air its first-ever NBA game on Sunday. The net “hopes to attract younger viewers with basketball,” and the Raptors “should benefit from being on conventional TV for the first time in five seasons.” The team will “join a select group of NBA teams” by showing all its games in HD (TORONTO STAR, 10/31).

    STERN ON RATINGS: NBA Commissioner David Stern appeared on CNBC yesterday and said of the defending champion Spurs being viewed as “boring”: “The Red Sox are probably the hottest team in baseball, and (MLB) just finished with their second-lowest (rated) World Series of all-time. I think that that’s the wave of the future with respect to television ratings, and that’s why the digital exploitation that we’re all waiting on is about to be a big deal. … We don’t like to have our all-time lowest rating and we’re working on that. But the way you measure it is consumption. I know that Nielsen and ESPN are working on a Consumption Index because you have to see who’s consuming your game (on all types of media)” (CNBC, 10/30).

    NBA TV: Dish Network has added NBA TV to its HD channel lineup, available with the America’s Top 100 package (CABLEFAX DAILY, 10/31).... In DC, Tim Lemke writes it "appears NBA TV will get wider distribution as part of a new deal that would hand control of the channel to Turner Broadcasting, which would have the power to distribute the channel to Time Warner Cable systems." The NBA is seeking carriage on TWC’s digital tier. A deal with TWC in theory would put “pressure on other major cable operators to begin carrying the channel on a more widely distributed tier.” Stern said, “We had anticipated a couple of years ago that the cable industry would be putting more muscle behind their promotion of the sports tier, but they seemed to be ambivalent about which way they were going. We envisioned being content with an expanded marketing muscle behind a sports tier approach. But that really is not something that the cable industry has been particularly formidable about. So we’re now seeking broader distribution” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/31).

    NOTES: The Rockets will broadcast all 82 games this season in Spanish on KEYH-AM (Rockets)....The Nets signed a multi-year extension with Chris Carrino to remain the team’s radio play-by-play voice (Nets)....Former Ball State Univ. men’s basketball coach Ronny Thompson has joined Comcast SportsNet as an analyst for Wizards and college basketball games. Thompson is the son of Basketball HOFer John Thompson (CSN).

  • When The Devil's Away: Lone Tenant Nets Redesign Izod Center

    Nets Add Personal Touches To Izod Center
    Following Devils' Departure To New Arena
    The Nets are "making themselves as comfortable as they have ever been" in the Izod Center, which the team redesigned "mostly on their own dime, convincing companies to put their names and logos in sections of the arena in ways the Devils management never would have tolerated," according to Matthew Futterman of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. The Devils this offseason left the arena for the new Prudential Center. Nets President & CEO Brett Yormark said, "The Devils leaving gives us a tremendous opportunity to leverage different areas of the building in ways we never were able to do before." Futterman notes the Izod Center has red-painted pillars with 85-foot banners of Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter. The Nets also changed the Devils locker room into a bar and dining lounge for companies that buy 20 or more tickets priced at $150. Another portion of the locker room became the Nets corporate boardroom, and in the stands, the team installed 32 loge box seats behind the south basket on temporary risers which have tables and personal TVs (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 10/31).

  • Pacers' New Ad Campaign Emphasizes Coach And Team, Not Players

    The Pacers, who begin their season at home tonight against the Wizards, are “trying to reconnect with fans in part by breaking an old and successful NBA marketing formula” -- not mentioning any particular players in ads -- according to Mark Alesia of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. The new campaign has “emphasized new coach Jim O’Brien as a purveyor of Hoosier values … ‘hard-nosed defense,' ‘preparation,’ ‘the will to win.’” Pacers President & CEO Donnie Walsh “acknowledged the team’s [image] issues but said there was no preconceived idea to exclude players from this year’s marketing.” Walsh said, “Obviously, there was a turnoff that occurred last year because of some things that happened, and that was attributed (by the public) to the franchise, not to certain players. I felt it was important for us to restate what we are and what we’ve been for 20 years.” Tom Hirschauer, President of Publicis' Indianapolis office, which now handles the team’s marketing, said, “Would this work in New York City? I don’t know. Would it work in Miami? Maybe not."  Sports Business Group President David Carter said, “You have to get away from the idea that this is about just selling tickets to people. It’s about how you position your team in the community, how it’s perceived.”  Alesia notes Pacers spots on YouTube, which also do not feature players, show "crop circles in the shape of a shoe, and things … inexplicably turning blue and gold, the Pacers’ colors. The phenomenon was said to point to a ‘soon to be public frenzy and hysteria’ at Conseco Fieldhouse” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 10/31).

  • Whose Line Is It Anyway? '07-08 NBA Team Marketing Slogans

    The following chart lists the marketing slogans or themes that NBA teams are using to promote the '07-08 season (THE DAILY).

    '07-08 SLOGAN
    The Highlight Factory
    Blue Sky Agency
    Think Big
    Ads center around Celtics' "Big Three," F Kevin Garnett, G Ray Allen and G Paul Pierce.
    Love it Live!
    DiMeo & Co.
    All for one. One for All.
    Mavericks It's All About D In-house
    Campaign centered around the letter "D." Examples of words to be substituted are "Dallas," "Desire," "Discipline," etc.
    Nuggets Can You Feel It? In-house
    All branding, player quotes and collateral will carry this theme.
    Pistons 50 Seasons of Hard Work. That's True Blue Collar In-house
    Campaign puts spotlight on Pistons greats, both past and present, while celebrating their 50th anniversary as a franchise.
    Warriors N/A N/A
    Rockets It's Time In-house
    Pacers None None
    Clippers None None
    Lakers None None
    Grizzlies New Game N/A
    Heat 20 Years of Heat/The Heat Experience. Feel it. Live. Southern Brand Collective
    The Heat are celebrating their 20th anniversary as a franchise by wearing throwback jerseys from the '88-89 season for eight home games. The second slogan is a positioning statement the Heat have used in years past; focuses on being "more than just a game."
    Bucks Where Amazing Happens Eichenbaum & Associates
    Marketing platform based on the NBA's "Where Amazing Happens" thematic. The team has created original versions of 30-second TV spots to market season tickets and other ticket packages. The theme is incorporated in print advertising and in-arena marketing. The team is also using a 40th anniversary season logo created by NBA creative department in all forms of advertising.
    T'Wolves See What They Can Do Martin Williams Advertising
    See What They Can Do Tour launched in conjunction with campaign; will host 17 events in 12 days culminating with home opener Friday.
    Hornets Passion, Purpose, Pride Trumpet Ad Agency & The Ehrhardt Group
    Ads centered on team's return to New Orleans this season, as Hurricane Katrina forced them to relocate to Oklahoma City the past two years.
    Nets More Than a Game In-house
    Knicks Experience Knicks Basketball In-house
    Magic The Time is Now. Be Bold. Be Blue. In-house in conjunction with VisionWorks
    76ers Multiple Slogans* N/A
    *Slogans centered on the theme of team unity leading to accomplishment. Examples include "Strength is Derived From Unity" and "Inspiration Leads to Accomplishment."
    Suns Welcome to Planet Orange The Lavidge Agency
    Suns created a social network Web site,; overarching message of campaign is "Things Are Different Here."
    Trail Blazers Rise With Us In-house
    Campaign serves as an invitation to fans to "be part of the story"; behind-the-scenes style documentary with cameras placed in hands of players, coaches and fans to capture what is naturally occurring in practices, games and on the road.
    Kings None None
    Spurs Team is Everything In-house
    Sonics Be Part of It In-house
    Raptors My Game is Raptors Basketball Taxi Ad & Creative Agency
    Slogan has been in use by the Raptors for the past few years.
    Jazz It's a Pure Adrenaline Rush LHM Advertising
    Slogan runs over jagged snow-capped mountains enhancing "adrenaline rush."
    Wizards Ready to Rule Fixation Marketing

  • Names & Faces: LeBron's New Shoe, adidas Re-Ups With Howard

    Nike is launching the $140 Zoom LeBron V, the fifth signature shoe of Cavaliers F LeBron James, with a new ad campaign.  In one TV spot, James says at the end: "You don't want to be me. You want to be better than me." The ad, via Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, includes highlights from James' high school and NBA career. There are 30- and 60-second versions of the spot that will air on national networks and during NBA games on TNT, ESPN, ABC and FSN. The spot will also appear on Web sites, and ads will run in national print publications and on billboards in Cleveland and N.Y (Nike). ESPN's Scoop Jackson noted "The LeBrons" ads that ran last season were the last of those spots, as Nike is "staying true to its historic creed to never run marketing campaigns in the ground before the public gets tired of them." It was the "most ingenious basketball campaign they've had since 'The Fun Police'" (, 10/29).

    ADIDAS: adidas signed Magic C Dwight Howard to a multi-year extension. The contract was negotiated by his agent, GSM's Aaron Goodwin (adidas)....ADWEEK's Gregory Solman reported adidas has launched 11 webisodes as part of their "Basketball is a brotherhood" ad campaign, created by Omnicom's 180. adidas in mid-October launched the campaign for their Team Signature product line, with the tag line "Impossible is Nothing," as a follow-up to last year's "It Takes Five" campaign." Both campaigns "emphasize the game's team aspects rather than individual personalities." Mobile is playing "a rare front-and-center role" in the campaign, and 180 Exec Creative Dir William Gelner said that research "revealed that the young basketball enthusiast is an interactive, mobile phone fanatic." Ads have codes in them for consumers to text players, and the players being texted call back with prerecorded messages. Once a consumer signs up on, the return calls "get more personal, with ... a player using the texter's actual name and directing them to the Webisodes." Gelner:  "Texting is a way to further engage consumers into the notion of brotherhood" (ADWEEK, 10/29 issue).

    ROOKIES: In Seattle, Percy Allen wrote Sonics rookie F Kevin Durant, who has multi-year sponsorship deals with Nike, Gatorade and EA Sports, has "been selective in choosing the companies he endorses." Goodwin adheres to a "less-is-more philosophy" (SEATTLE TIMES, 10/29)....Bucks VP/Business Operations John Steinmiller said that the team is "talking with Chinese companies who want to align themselves" with Bucks rookie F Yi Jianlian, who is repped on the business side by William Morris and on the basketball side by Dan Fegan. Steinmiller said Chinese companies "have an interest in doing things with us that would trade on our team and our city, and of course he is one of our players." Steinmiller indicated that some of the companies "want to be involved with game broadcasts, while others are talking about arena opportunities in terms of merchandising" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 10/27).

    MORE NAMES: Converse Sunday debuted a new marketing campaign highlighting Heat G Dwyane Wade's basketball career to coincide with the release of his new WADE 3 shoe. The spot, shot in American Airlines Arena and directed by Samuel Bayer, began running on ESPN, MTV, BET and during NBA programming. Converse's print campaign includes outdoor and in-store advertising (Converse)....L.A.-based clothing label The AU Label launched its first series of special edition t-shirts in the S.F. area through a collection inspired by Warriors G Baron Davis. The Warriors will carry the shirts in their team shop at Oracle Arena and the Davis collection features three styles, each retailed at $35 (AU Label)....Nuggets F Carmelo Anthony has launched his personal blog at, joining the athlete blog community that includes Davis, Trail Blazers C Greg Oden, Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, Ravens LB Ray Lewis, Rams WR Isaac Bruce and Angels P John Lackey (Yardbarker).

  • NBA Debuts "Where Amazing Happens" Ad Campaign

    The NBA's new "Where Amazing Happens" multimedia ad campaign, via Goodby Silverstein & Partners, launched last week, and was reported by Terry Lefton in last week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNALBelow are some of the national spots in the campaign. To view the spots, visit

    Click Here To View The Spot Click Here To View The Spot

  • Secondary Market Ticket Prices NBA Home-Opener Games

    On, the Knicks and Cavaliers home openers have the top sales prices amongst NBA teams, while the Celtics home opener on Friday against the Wizards is accounting for 10.2% of home-opener tickets sold on the site.  StubHub is seeing the highest selling prices for the Lakers and Suns home openers.  Despite opening at home against the defending-champion Spurs, the Grizzlies are seeing the lowest selling prices for any team on both sites.  The following presents average sale prices for NBA home-opener tickets on both StubHub and TicketsNow (THE DAILY).

    Trail Blazers
    Warriors Jazz
    Cavaliers Mavericks
    Grizzlies Spurs
    Hornets Kings
    Magic Bucks
    Nets Bulls
    Nuggets Sonics
    Pacers Wizards
    Raptors 76ers
    Heat Pistons
    Jazz Rockets
    Sonics Suns
    Bobcats Bucks
    Bulls 76ers
    Celtics Wizards
    Clippers Warriors
    Hawks Mavericks
    Suns Lakers
    T'Wolves Nuggets
    76ers Nets
    Bucks Bulls
    Mavericks Kings
    Rockets Trail Blazers
    Wizards Magic
    Knicks T'Wolves
    Pistons Hawks
    Kings Sonics
    Trail Blazers Hornets

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