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Volume 20 No. 46

In Depth

Stan and Jeff Van Gundy make up the most unlikely power duo in the NBA.

Neither of the basketball lifers has the look of a typical basketball power broker. One is known for his rumpled suits and off-the-cuff manner; the other is a balding 55-year-old with an acerbic wit.

But the Van Gundys have worked their way from “Division III schleps,” according to Jeff, to places where they exert more influence over the game of basketball than any two siblings in recent memory.

As head coach and head of basketball operations for the Detroit Pistons, Stan, 58, is one of the few NBA coaches who is in charge of all basketball matters for a team. Younger brother Jeff, former coach of the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets, is the league’s top game analyst for ESPN, a position that gives him a soapbox to effect change on a league that he loves.

Each has won more than 400 games in the NBA, coached teams in the NBA Finals and become ultimate NBA insiders. But their road to NBA royalty is as unique and improbable as their current positions suggest.

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Just a few days before the start of training camp, on a mid-September afternoon, Stan Van Gundy sat in his office at the team’s practice facility, plotting ways to improve on last season when he failed to make the playoffs for only the second time in his 10 years as an NBA head coach.

If Stan was feeling pressure, he didn’t show it. He was at ease, befitting the manner of a veteran coach who controls the team’s entire basketball enterprise. He was dressed in full coach mode: red Pistons practice shirt, red workout shorts, and white socks bearing the NBA logo. A glass wall that faces the practice court dominates his office. From here, Van Gundy can see all in his executive role in Detroit.

Mark Jackson (left), Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen work Game 3 of the 2017 NBA Finals in Cleveland.
Team owner Tom Gores, who oversees the Pistons from his Los Angeles-based Platinum Equity office, hired Stan in 2014 after a two-year coaching hiatus.

“Scheduled for two, went on for six,” Stan said of the hours he spent interviewing with Gores.

The two connected after the marathon interview where both bought into a vision of a unified front office.

“I’ve always liked the model of connecting the floor to the front office,” Gores said. “I think with the right person like Stan, it’s an incredible model. It takes a capacity to do it. Stan has the understanding of the NBA rules. He knows players. He knows how to set structures up. I know he’s going to be as prepared as ever when it comes to any decisions we’re making, whether it’s on the floor or front office.”

Stan Van Gundy says that compared to his brother, he is more likely to wear his emotions on his sleeve.
As Stan readied his team in the days leading up to training camp, he was joined by another ally in brother Jeff, who flew from his Houston home to Detroit, decamped at Stan’s house and visited Stan’s practices. Jeff was prepping for the upcoming season, his 10th as ESPN’s top NBA analyst.

As they have throughout nearly their three decades spent in and around professional basketball, the two irreverent and outspoken gym rats compared notes and traded gossip as they headed toward another NBA season.

Their conversations and banter these days do not vary much from decades ago, when they would play one-on-one in Martinez, Calif., while their dad coached various small college teams.

The stakes, of course, are much higher and more visible in the NBA. But those early shootarounds — seemingly every weekend in the fall and winter four decades ago — ensured that the game stayed in their blood.

“The beauty of growing up in a coaching family, particularly one that isn’t at the very highest level, is that you get to be in the gym — that’s where you grow up,” Jeff said.

But ascending into the NBA’s upper echelon wasn’t an early goal.

“I don’t think either one of us had thoughts or ambitions of being in the NBA,” Stan said. “Initially, my ambition was to get to a point where I could have a really good small college job. There was never a plan. I got really lucky. I’m not trying to be overly humble, that’s not me. But I’ve been in the right place at the right time with the right person.”

■ ■ ■ ■

ESPN hired Jeff in 2007 soon after he was fired by the Houston Rockets. For someone who couldn’t imagine being anything other than a basketball coach, Jeff viewed the move as a temporary stop-gap until a position opened up in the NBA.

“Initially, he thought it was just going to be a side job before he got his next coaching job,” said his broadcasting partner, Mike Breen. “Then it evolved into something that he has excelled at like very few.”

Jeff’s style was unique and showcased his personality. He is as likely to talk about hairstyles as pick-and-rolls. Viewers have taken to him because he seems to talk without a filter. In the fourth quarter of a 2016 playoff game when the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Toronto Raptors by 38 points, Jeff said, “If you’re just tuning in, TUNE OUT.”

Sibling rivalry
NBA coaching records for the
Van Gundy brothers

Stan Van Gundy
Seasons: 2003-04 through 2016-17
Regular-season record: 484-341 (.587)
Playoff record: 48-43 (.527)
NBA Finals appearances: 1, in 2009 with Orlando Magic

Jeff Van Gundy
Seasons: 1995-96 through 2006-07
Regular-season record: 430-318 (.575)
Playoff record: 44-44 (.500)
NBA Finals appearances: 1, in 1999 with New York Knicks

Source: SportsBusiness Journal research

Viewers and critics seem to like that style. The Boston Globe, for one, referred to him as “funny, informed, self-deprecating, opinionated, and blunt” in a 2015 piece.

But Jeff slowly has figured out how big his megaphone can be as ESPN’s top NBA game analyst. His name still gets thrown around every time a coaching vacancy occurs in the league. Over the summer, he agreed to be the head coach of USA Basketball’s men’s national teams. But, Breen believes that Jeff has found his voice in the broadcast booth.

“When he first started doing broadcasting, I don’t think he realized the impact that he would have on the game for the fans and for the league,” Breen said. “He is a champion for the fans. And for the league, he’s a great watchdog. Even though he’ll criticize the league for certain things that they do or certain rules that they have or certain responses they have for things.”

For example, Jeff regularly would rail against flopping — when players would pretend to get fouled to get a referee’s call. In one 2012 Heat-Knicks game at Madison Square Garden, Jeff ranted for minutes about a third-quarter flop call. “I’m just sick of it, and I can’t believe the NBA office isn’t sick of it, too. They are obviously condoning this,” he said on air. “I have easy remedies. You fine them. Or you treat them like technicals and when you flop X amount of times, you’re suspended.”

A couple of months later, the NBA changed its rules to penalize floppers and fine repeated violators.

He also criticized the NBA Finals format that played the first two games in one arena, and the next three in the other. The NBA changed it to be the first two in one arena, the next two in the other.

“He’s definitely had an impact on the league making some changes that were great for the game,” Breen said. “I don’t know if the league will admit it, but I really do think he brought about a change in the league’s flopping policy. And that’s had an enormous impact. You rarely see the flopping that was occurring a couple of years ago. It was rampant for a while.”

■ ■ ■ ■

The brothers’ current roles can be viewed as an extension of their father, Bill, who coached small college and high school teams on both coasts for more than 40 years. Basketball is the Van Gundy family business, and Stan and Jeff are minding the store right now.

“I don’t ever remember wanting to do anything but coach,” Jeff said. “My dad obviously influenced me. But it wasn’t because he sat there and drilled coaching stuff into our heads. We were on the bench keeping the scorebook and traveling with the team on weekends. It was such a great upbringing.”

All those hours on the basketball court helped the brothers forge a close and competitive relationship — one where they fought a lot but remained best friends.

“The hard part for me was when it became clear that Jeff was the better player,” Stan said. “We were totally different players. I tried to score all the time. He was a classic point guard who could shoot but he was the guy trying to get other people to score.”

Though Stan is older by three years, it was Jeff who blazed the coaching path for his older brother. Jeff caught a break his first year out of college when he was coaching McQuaid High School in New York. Providence College head coach Rick Pitino stopped by to see one of Jeff’s players, a sophomore named Greg Woodard. That led to an improbable meeting that changed the course of Jeff’s future.

Jeff Van Gundy holds onto Alonzo Mourning to try to break up a fight in the 1998 playoffs.
“Providence had a graduate assistant job opening,” he said. “They asked me if I wanted to apply, and I applied. That break right there put me in position to learn from great coaches. It really jump-started every other good break I ever had in coaching.”

Pitino eventually landed at the New York Knicks and hired Jeff as an assistant — a move that led to Stan’s big coaching break.

Jeff remained a Knicks assistant coach after Pitino left the Knicks to coach Kentucky. When the Knicks’ next coach, Pat Riley, left the team for Miami, Jeff wanted to follow, but the Knicks, miffed at Riley for leaving, blocked the move.

So Jeff suggested the next best thing. He told Riley that he should hire Stan, who had just been fired as Wisconsin’s head coach after only one season marked by a 13-14 record. Thanks to Jeff’s recommendation, Riley hired Stan in 1995.

“We have an incestuous career,” Jeff said. “We’ve both worked for the same people a lot of times.”

As is the case with many siblings, Stan and Jeff are wired differently in terms of temperament and personality.

“He is far more controlled, and I mean that as a compliment,” Stan said. “I am more off-the-cuff and wear my emotions on my sleeve more than I should.”

Consider Stan’s rant after a blowout loss to the Chicago Bulls last December when he abandoned typical postgame “coach speak” and ripped into his team publicly while also blaming himself. “It was unprofessional, embarrassing, humiliating, whatever you want to say. It was terrible,” Stan told the media after the loss.

Jeff and Stan have relied on their familial bond for support throughout their careers, especially when Stan began working for Riley in Miami.

“I wore Jeff out,” said Stan, who bombarded his brother with questions as he struggled to adjust to the NBA. “Jeff not only knew the league, but he knew Pat Riley and how he liked to work.”

The only time that Stan and Jeff refused to speak was when Stan was an assistant at Miami and Jeff was the head coach of the Knicks and the two rival teams met in the postseason from 1997-2000. “We agreed that for as long as the series went on, we weren’t going to talk,” Stan said. “It was excruciating.”

The intensity of that series was typified by an incident in the 1998 playoffs when Jeff, as the Knicks’ head coach, grabbed onto the leg of the Heat’s Alonzo Mourning to try to break up a brawl.

“That was not his greatest moment in moderation,” Stan said.

■ ■ ■ ■

Stan and Jeff competed against each as head coaches for the first time when Jeff coached the Houston Rockets and Stan was head coach for the Heat in 2003.

“I still remember very vividly, the first time we coached against each other was in Houston,” Jeff said. “Not to get all sentimental, but looking across during the national anthem, and you’re looking at your brother as the other head coach — two schleps with a Division III background standing in a packed arena coaching NBA basketball as head coaches against each other — man, I got emotional on that one.”

Jeff handed Stan a loss in the first game they coached against each other to send the Heat to an 0-7 record.

“I didn’t enjoy coaching against him,” Jeff said. “I didn’t hate it, either. I could appreciate what a great thing it was for our family while at the same time realizing that whoever won and whoever lost — it’s a hard business.”

Both of their accomplishments were based on a bedrock of hard work and smarts they learned from their father during his coaching career.

Stan’s NBA break came as an assistant in Miami under Pat Riley.
“The Van Gundys represent what it takes to be successful in the NBA,” said Alex Martins, CEO of the Magic, where Stan coached from 2007-12, a stint that included an NBA Finals appearance in 2009. “Their work ethic, their experience of having worked from the ground floor up and their knowledge of the game have led to their success. Any young basketball executive would be well served to be focused on the path that the Van Gundys have traveled and understanding that success just doesn’t happen by chance, it comes with a lot of hard work.”

When Jeff became a broadcaster with ESPN, he felt the professional burden from the brotherhood, particularly when he was at the microphone when Stan coached the Magic against the Lakers in the 2009 NBA Finals.

“I’ve done his games in the past,” Jeff said. “It’s probably not ideal. Before the Finals in 2009, it was an issue. Some people were critical of ESPN, saying that I shouldn’t be on the games. I understand that thought process. They decided to keep me on. Before the game, Mike Breen and our producer Tim Corrigan said, ‘We have to address this.’ I said, ‘Well, I want my brother’s team to win.’ I’m not going to try and hide that. I wanted everybody to know that I wasn’t even trying to pretend to say I didn’t care who won.”

Breen noted how difficult it was for Jeff to call his brother’s game. He recalled a big moment at the end of one of the games, when Kobe Bryant made a sensational play to seal a Lakers win. Breen looked over at Jeff, who had his head in his hands.

“He was absolutely miserable for his brother,” Breen said. “He was tortured by anything that went wrong for the Magic. When he does a game, he is so objective — as good as anybody — and does not let things get in his way. He could not hide his love for his brother and wanting his brother to have success and win that title.”

There were no such issues for Stan.

“That was hard for him, but good for me,” Stan said. “I don’t know what he’s saying on TV during the games.”

Stan and Jeff talk almost every day during the season and at least five days a week during the offseason. There is one restriction, though. The two won’t talk until the day after a Pistons loss.

“He knows that after a loss, you need time to recover and get some space,” Stan said.

Jeff has yet to call a Pistons game with Stan as the head coach, but should it happen, expect a reunion of sorts.

“I liked it when he had our games,” Stan said. “I got to see him and the fact is when I get to see him, it’s a good day.”

“A fan should know that ... the players they market, the players we buy tickets to see,
they’re playing if they are healthy.”

On draft lottery reform:

Jeff Van Gundy: It’s a good first step. I don’t think there should ever be an incentive for losing. Everybody who doesn’t have home-court advantage in the first round should be part of the lottery. I don’t think it should be cut with non-playoff teams and playoff teams. I don’t think anybody should ever be left with the decision organizationally of “should we try to win or should we try to lose.” There should be zero incentive to lose. The league made a stride and needs to continue to move forward in that way.

Stan Van Gundy: Not every city is created equal. Not everybody has got as much wherewithal to exceed the cap. For some teams, the draft is the equalizer and you don’t want to see that taken away. But the tanking is an issue I don’t like. We should all be putting the best team on the floor every night.

On player rest guidelines:

JVG: We should come up with a number of games that we could reasonably expect the NBA player to play in every game — and just play that many games. That would be a sacrifice of money by everybody. But the bait and switch tactics of selling your star players to fans, fans buying tickets to see them, and then they are not showing up? That should have to stop. No one is saying that injured players should play. But it is my belief that the 65 games that our players could reasonably be asked to play in that amount of time — the length of a regular season — then that is what we should play. A fan should know that if healthy, the players they market, the players we buy tickets to see, they’re playing if they are healthy. Even though we say we don’t, we take our fans for granted. It will hurt us at some point. Hopefully, this is step one in a multi-step process to correct something that impacts our fans directly.

SVG: I try to stay away from it. Here it is pretty simple: If we have a game and someone is healthy, they are going to play. Maybe I’m not smart enough. That could be. But I will say this. It is an interesting time not only in our sport, but in others. There has been this boom in sports science. We got all these things. We know how to take care of players better. The travel is easier and better. We got sleep doctors and all these things going on and guys can’t play an 82-game season, at least that is what we are saying. I don’t begrudge anybody. If you think it’s best for your team then you have to do it. The fact that somebody thinks they should play their guys every night there is a game doesn’t make them idiots and it doesn’t make them guys who are behind the times. We are going to make our greatest effort to win every game. The guys who take the floor are always trying to win. As an organization, we are putting the best guys on the floor every night.

On jersey patch advertising:

JVG: Originally, I was against them. But then I’m like, who cares? It’s a way to make money. Our players are really philanthropic. Organizations have become more and more philanthropic. I would have liked to have seen a large chunk of that be donated to some charity or cause. When I heard about it, I said, “Oh man. Another way to generate money.” But then I thought it is a way to try and generate money. Good for them. I don’t look at it as greed. But pretty soon, the team name may be the 3-by-5-inch patch and the patches may be as big as the team name is now. I’m surprised that more mainstream companies haven’t seemed to buy patches. The idea has grown on me.

SVG: I like them. I think the NBA gives people great exposure and, in our case, we have a partner in Flagstar Bank with great values who really has bought into Detroit and the resurrection of the city and wants to be part of it. It’s not just take the biggest dollar. In our case, it has been done right.

— John Lombardo and John Ourand

The Minnesota Timberwolves, Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks enter the 2017-18 NBA season with high hopes after each spent the offseason focused on turnaround efforts. The Pistons move into a new home in downtown Detroit, the Wolves take the wraps off a major renovation of Target Center, and the Bucks are busy lining up business for their new arena opening next year. Here’s a look at the state of business for each franchise as the NBA season prepares to tip off.

— John Lombardo

First Look podcast, with discussion of NBA storylines:


The Pistons usher in a new era this year as they move from the suburban Palace of Auburn Hills to their new home at Little Caesars Arena, the 21,000-seat downtown Detroit venue operated by Olympia Entertainment, parent of the Detroit Red Wings.

The Pistons’ move is far more than a simple 33-mile relocation. The team is undergoing a major transformation with new uniforms and logos, and a new branding effort in advance of their move.

The team has seen its season-ticket sales soar, with 2,600 new full-season tickets sold, and has an 82 percent season-ticket renewal rate. That’s a respectable rate given the move downtown and a 40 percent hike in the price of some tickets. Little Caesars Arena also gives the team new premium inventory to generate additional revenue.

Sponsors are buying into the revamp, as the Pistons this year have seen a double-digit increase in sponsorship revenue. The team added Henry Ford Health System as naming-rights partner for its new downtown practice facility, signed a jersey patch deal with Flagstar Bank, and reached a deal with Platinum Equity that puts the logo of the company founded by Pistons owner Tom Gores on the floor of Little Caesars Arena.

Being a part of the revitalization of downtown Detroit provides the team with a new vibe.

“It’s an energy you get from being in the city that is spilling over to us and that is exciting,” said Charlie Metzger, the Pistons’ chief revenue and marketing officer. “We are reintroducing ourselves to a lot of fans.”


With one full season under his belt, Wolves CEO Ethan Casson spent the offseason aggressively revamping the team’s business approach, and it’s beginning to pay dividends in a market that hasn’t seen playoff basketball in 13 years.
The carefully scripted narrative began on the last day of the 2016-17 regular season when the team rolled out new uniforms and branding.

The offseason then featured a steady diet of new business efforts, including a $140 million renovation of Target Center that added revenue-producing premium amenities. Sponsorship revenue is up by 20 percent since last year and full-season ticket sales are up by 25 percent. The Wolves added about 2,000 new full-season ticket holders this year, the highest gain since the team’s inaugural 1989-90 season.

“From April to today there has been a drumbeat of news coming out of our organization talking about the new era,” Casson said.

The team signed a jersey patch deal with FitBit and purchased the Iowa Wolves G League franchise as Casson built a new culture around the Wolves. “It is shaping a new narrative that was so negative for all these years,” he said. “For us, it is about telling the story of a new era.”

On the court, the team’s march to relevance is aided by the basketball coaching staff, led by former Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, and an offseason trade for former Chicago Bulls all-star Jimmy Butler. The Wolves will gain the spotlight this season by playing in the NBA’s China games and the high-profile, nationally televised Christmas Day games.

Off the court, the Wolves have restructured much of their front office, with former team president Chris Wright leaving to run the MLS Minnesota franchise. The team added a new position of vice president of community engagement and is creating its own alumni network, a common outreach strategy at other NBA teams but a first-time effort for the Wolves.

Despite the new business traction from such moves, Casson is hardly satisfied with the state of the franchise.
“A year into it, I’m happy with what we have done, but there is so much to do,” he said.


Under owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry, the Bucks continue a makeover of major proportions. The biggest piece of the franchise overhaul is a new $524 million downtown arena set to open at the beginning of the 2018-19 NBA season. The Bucks also are building a $31 million downtown practice facility.

The team spent the offseason selling heavily into the new arena, an effort made easier by the team’s playoff appearance last season.

It’s part of an aggressive sales strategy that began when the team was sold three years ago.

“Ownership looked at the team as a distressed asset and literally started from scratch and ripped it down to the studs,” said Bucks President Peter Feigin. “It is an entrepreneurial start-up with all new processes with the goal to create an innovative business on every level.”

Perhaps the biggest shift in the Bucks’ business strategy is the amount of resources the team’s owners have poured into the franchise. The front office has grown from a staff of 87 three years ago to 215 today and the team now has a sales staff of 60, which Feigin said puts them in the upper half of the NBA in sales staff size.

“It is a wholesale change for us,” Feigin said. “We have become a sales organization with sponsorships and ticket sales the lifeblood.”

The team sits among the top five of the 30 NBA teams in new full-season ticket sales and have sold at least 2,250 new full-season ticket packages as it nears the 8,000 mark. Notably, the Bucks expect a 95 percent season-ticket renewal rate with overall ticket sales at a clip not seen since the 2001-02 season when the Bucks went to the Eastern Conference Finals.

With a new arena driving business, the Bucks have made major sponsorship gains, beginning with their jersey patch deal with Harley-Davidson. The Bucks also added Johnson Controls, Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, MillerCoors and BMO Harris Bank as founding partners of the new arena. The team aims to have seven or eight founding partnerships by the time the arena opens.

The biggest sponsorship deal is yet to come: naming rights for the new arena.

“Our partnership revenue is up by 20 percent over the prior year and still growing,” Feigin said. “There is an unbelievable leverage play with the new arena.”

The Bucks plan to market the arena as a major entertainment venue capable of competing with Chicago for the biggest acts. The Bucks hired former Madison Square Garden and AEG executive Raj Saha to lead the effort as general manager of the arena.

“We are making an effort to differentiate ourselves and Raj is a great example,” Feigin said. “We are positioning ourselves as a big-market arena would.”

Nike brings new looks to NBA jerseys as it begins its league partnership. That includes the arrival of the Statement Edition uniform, one of four editions of jerseys planned this year. While some teams stayed close to tradition with their alternate jerseys, others went bold. Golden State sets the tone with a jersey that pays respect to its hometown of Oakland with a uniform that reads “The Town” and features a new team crest. Now you’re talking.

The Lakers signed e-commerce site Wish while the Kings went with Blue Diamond almonds.
The NBA breaks new ground this season by putting advertising on game jerseys, with more than half of the league’s 30 teams signing deals for an average of $9.3 million annually, according to one industry expert involved in the program.

The average jersey patch deal value compiled by Wasserman, which did deal evaluations for 15 NBA teams, including the Golden State Warriors’ record $20 million yearly deal with Japanese tech company Rakuten, is in line with the $9 million average initially forecast by Wasserman.

“It has been trending slightly up from projections,” said Elizabeth Lindsey, who heads the marketing division at Wasserman. “An asset of this magnitude is one that you don’t package alone. It is just below naming rights as far as team inventory, so you don’t sell it on its own. You can see that every team treated it differently as far as what was packaged.”

But selling the high-priced inventory has proved no easy task given it had never been done in any of the four top U.S. stick and ball leagues. That unfamiliarity, along with the deeply integrated and high valuations of the deals, is why the league gave teams an 18-month runway to sell the patches. Big-market teams without jersey patch deals last week included the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets, as those teams continued to look for the right partner — and right price.

“It’s a different kind of sale; the narrative is different, the approach has to be different,” said Brett Yormark, chief executive officer of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Nets. The Nets were the fourth team to sell a jersey patch sponsorship, landing software company Infor in a deal worth $8 million a year.

“This isn’t just a signage, branding or exposure story,” Yormark said. “It has to be a bigger play, and obviously the expense is much bigger. You can’t sell the patch like everything else. It requires more thoughtfulness; there’s fewer potential companies. It’s a bigger story and a deeper connection between the team and the brand.”

The Nets’ deal with Infor, for example, calls for the company to develop analytics to measure player performance, business operations, and fan experience.

With at least 17 teams now having jersey patch deals, and a handful more expected soon, the league expects to have about two-thirds of NBA teams with deals in place this season.

While the brands doing jersey deals range from tech companies such as Fitbit with the Minnesota Timberwolves to old-line companies such as Goodyear, which bought the Cleveland Cavaliers’ patch, most of the jersey patch deals are with companies that had never been NBA sponsors. The Utah Jazz is the only team with a cause-related patch deal; analytics company Qualtrics will put its 5 For The Fight cancer charity logo on the team’s jersey. But the company will also activate around the deal by developing fan experience data for the team after also signing on as the team’s exclusive fan experience insights and analytics partner.

“The mix of the companies is unique and shows the breadth of the appeal,” said Amy Brooks, executive vice president of the NBA’s team marketing and business operations division. “The majority are locally based brands with global reaches.”

Brooks said teams without jersey patch deals will be allowed to sign deals during the season.

“When we created this at the league, we’d envisioned a number of new brands coming into the league, rather than just an additional spend by existing sponsors, and largely that is what we have seen,” said Emilio Collins, chief business officer at Excel Sports Management and a former senior NBA sponsorship executive who helped create the jersey patch program. “It has slightly exceeded the pace I expected. I thought it was going to be about half the teams going into the season and obviously it is a bit more than that.”

Adding to the difficulty in selling the patch is the packaging of other team assets into the jersey sponsorship. The Warriors’ jersey deal with Rakuten, for example, also includes naming rights to the team’s practice facility for the next two seasons before the Warriors move from Oakland to San Francisco. The Los Angeles Lakers signed a deal with e-commerce company Wish and included a patch on its G League team jersey as part of its overall deal worth between $12 million and $14 million annually.

The league computes the actual value of the jersey patch deals, separate from any other team assets that might be included.

“We have a rigorous process to standardize the valuation of the patch,” Brooks said, declining to disclose specifics.
Half of the revenue from jersey patch deals will go to the players. Of the remaining 50 percent, 25 percent will go to the team selling the patch, with the remaining 25 percent to be shared among the remaining 29 teams.

One of the most complicated deals is in Charlotte, where the Hornets are searching for the right jersey patch partner that will align with the Jordan Brand logo that will also be on the team’s jersey as part of the league’s new apparel deal with Nike.

“We are in a unique position in being the only Jordan Brand in the NBA, so we are looking for synergy,” said Pete Guelli, executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer for the Hornets. He would not put a time frame on any jersey patch deal with the team.

“We have had multiple offers, but none we could pull the trigger on,” he said. “But the market is being established and reset every day. It is only increasing.”

NBA ad spending

A total of 919 brands combined to create 3,160 unique commercials during NBA programming last season, for a total outlay of $1.1 billion across 54,635 commercials, according to SportsBusiness Journal’s analysis of data.

In our First Look podcast this week, SBJ’s Abe Madkour, John Lombardo, Eric Fisher and Bill King discuss this week’s stories, including an NBA season preview and NFL ticketing potentially changing course.