With the NBA headed toward its annual mega-celebrity-bash All-Star weekend in Los Angeles, the biggest celebrity hotbed of all, companies with any links to basketball are trying to pump up interest in their products by putting them out in front of media and public eyes.
While others will pay huge dollars for relatively small sponsorship opportunities, Michael Jordan's eponymous "Jordan Brand," a Nike imprint, decided its sponsorship money was better spent on high school students. Jordan Brand is donating $25,000 toward a spring college tour for prospective students, $100,000 worth of computers and the resurfacing of the school's basketball court to Inglewood (Calif.) High just outside of Los Angeles. Then, just to top things off, Jordan Brand set up a fitness clinic with Celtics All-Star Paul Pierce, above, at the school on Saturday.
The effort is undoubtedly an outright attempt to get headlines by a brand that hardly needs it. Among the Jordan Brand's sponsored athletes are Carmelo Anthony, whose trade status has Jordan Brand sneakers getting almost as many closeups as the player himself.
That doesn't invalidate the outreach effort itself. The money Jordan Brand/Nike will almost surely be more appreciated by students who can actually use Jordan Brand goods than many of the celebrities who usually receive handouts at All-Star events.
According to the Los Angeles Times, His Airness' brand gave each student at Inglewood one of three different Jordan Brand gifts: a book bag, T-shirt or hat. In addition, the Nike sub-brand also organized a fitness workshop for Inglewood students to be hosted by Celtics All-Star Paul Pierce -- an Inglewood grad himself -- on Saturday.
Naturally, these gifts are unlikely to revolutionize the life of any of the students at Inglewood, but they can't hurt, and they're a nice gesture that other brands could take a cue from.