SBD/March 25, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Silver Says NBA Will Reassess Sleeved Jerseys, Get Input From Players

James has expressed his dislike for the NBA's sleeved jerseys
The NBA following this season could decide to "curtail the use of the sleeved jerseys, leave it up to individual teams or simply kill the program for good," according to Howard Beck of BLEACHER REPORT. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that he "intends to revisit the issue after the season" and meet with Heat F LeBron James, one of the "loudest critics of the jerseys." Silver said, "If the players don't like them, we'll move on to something else. I don't regret doing it for this season. But it's intended to be something fun for the fans and the players. And if it becomes a serious issue, as to whether players should be wearing sleeves, we'll likely move onto other things." The matter "took on an added urgency, at least from a public relations standpoint, when James ... trashed the jerseys" after a loss to the Spurs on March 6. Beck wrote the NBA "could brush off the barbs from writers and role players," but when James "speaks, the league listens." Silver said of James, "Once the season is over, he expressed an interest in sitting down with me and [NBA President of Global Operations & Marketing] Sal LaRocca and discussing his point of view." Meanwhile, Beck noted while the league is "pleased with the popularity of the new jerseys, it does not view them as a major source of revenue." Silver also "dismissed a common conspiracy theory: that the sleeved jerseys were designed to make room for eventual sponsor logos." Silver said that there is "already ample room on the tank-top jerseys, as well as on shorts and warm-up gear, if the league decides to add sponsorships" (BLEACHERREPORT.com, 3/24). ESPN's J.A. Adande said Silver should "listen to LeBron, get rid of them." Adande: "They look terrible. They make you look like a bunch of rec league guys out there." ESPN's Max Kellerman added, "Especially when the best player in the world is saying, 'I hate these'" ("SportsNation," ESPN2, 3/24).

THIS SPACE FOR RENT: Silver yesterday followed up on his statement that advertising on jerseys was inevitable within the next five years, saying, "It’s something we’ve been talking about for a while now." In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg noted Silver "mentioned WNBA and NBA developmental teams already include ads on player jerseys." Talks about jersey ads "depend, in part, on negotiations with TV networks." Silver said, "Increasingly, our marketing partners are looking for other opportunities to get closer to the game" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 3/24).
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