SBD/May 2, 2013/Sports in Society

NBA, David Stern Got Heads Up Before Collins' Announcement

Stern said he has turned down interviews to discuss Collins' announcement
NBA Commissioner David Stern said the league "knew something was up" regarding an active player announcing he is gay prior to Wizards' C Jason Collins' announcement, though he did not specifically know it was Collins. Appearing on PBS' "Charlie Rose" Tuesday night, Stern said, "There was a lot going on. We were talking to some people that there was going to be a situation where an athlete or athletes were going to come out just in the NBA.” Stern said he told the people he was speaking with on the subject, “We’ll be with you 100 percent.” He said Collins and his agent Arn Tellem called him Monday morning before the SI article was posted online and told him their intentions. Stern: “Our players are pretty smart, I think, sophisticated, and knew that they would be called upon to be supportive when this ultimately happened.” NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver said, “We had been preparing for this moment.” Stern said noted he and Silver have "turned down interviews” to discuss the issue because “our sense is let’s get over this media frenzy and then let’s move on to whoever the next one might be and let’s just treat it as normally as we possibly can” (“Charlie Rose,” PBS, 4/30).

MARKETING POTENTIAL: Warriors President & CEO Rick Welts, who two years ago came out publicly, said of Collins’ marketing potential, “Anybody who is going to get involved with him at this point, their message is going to be message-oriented instead of product-oriented. It is not just a player selling a product, this is going to be a message that will go behind that that will make a statement behind this company and making a statement that Jason wants to make.” He added, “It is going to be a company that sees that it fits with what they are trying to accomplish and the market they are trying to reach. It will be a very different kind of sell than you see from most athlete endorsements.” ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell asked Welts how important is it “from a marketing perspective for him to now sign with a team.” Welts replied, “I don't think it's critical. I think there are a lot of other roles he could play in sports, whether that's in the league office or as a broadcaster. There are a lot of things that could keep him very visible in addition to being on a roster" (ESPN.com, 5/1). In London, Oliver Brown writes under the header, “Bravery Of NBA Star Jason Collins Is Sponsors' Dream” (London TELEGRAPH, 5/2). SPORTS ON EARTH’s Will Leitch wrote marketing opportunities “will be there.” Leitch: “At least for a while, anyway, at least until we get tired of him” (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 5/1).

ON THE TUBE: In L.A., Patrick Kevin Day reported the “first interview with Collins and his twin brother, Jarron, is set to air Sunday” on "Oprah's Next Chapter" on OWN (LATIMES.com, 5/1). Also in L.A., Paul Whitefield wrote under the header, “Kenny Smith Schools Chris Broussard On Inclusiveness.” TNT’s Smith in the immediate aftermath of ESPN’s Broussard's comments said, “As an African American, I could never, ever discredit inclusion, because that’s the one thing we always wanted.” Whitefield wrote, “I applaud Smith” (LATIMES.com, 5/1).
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