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The NBA will allow advertisements to be placed on the baseline and top of the backboard

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Stand up, Steve. You're blocking the Beverly Hills Cab Co. logo (Getty Images)

Advertisements, adverts, and ads everywhere. The NBA hasn’t formerly stitched a sponsor’s slogan onto its official jerseys yet, but league is set to run advertisements all over the baseline hardwood and backboard as a trial run during the 2013-14 season. Not as a trial run to see if the ads are too tacky and obtrusive, but to determine the best and most efficient way to draw eyes to the various products and services the NBA aligns itself with promoting.

The decals will go where the NBA has long either allowed teams to place its logos near the team bench, or atop the backboard where the league has advertised its team websites since the 1999 lockout-shortened season. Sports Business Journal broke the news on Monday:

A league source said no specific valuation has been assigned to the new sales areas, but multiyear, multimillion-dollar deals are expected, with teams signing package deals that would provide an advertiser with visibility in both places. One team executive said the deals could range anywhere from mid-six figures to around $2 million annually, acknowledging that the value of the signage will vary widely by market.

[…]

“This will be a tremendous opportunity for our teams,” said Alex Martins, chief executive officer of the Orlando Magic. “This platform to grow inventory of camera-visible signage will allow us all to continue to grow our business for our teams and players. I applaud the league for opening up this opportunity for our teams and our clients.”

Mind you, Martins is a man who runs a team that is owned by Amway. Their business done growed already, but in the corporate culture enough is never enough. Eat fresh.

The advertisements, SBJ reported, will be taken off of the floor and backboard for when the league office rolls into town to broadcast a nationally televised game. This is already par for the course for the sort of local ads that magically disappear from the scorer’s table when TNT or ABC/ESPN drive in with their klieg lights.

Two issues immediately spring to mind.

One, the television stations that broadcast these games are partners with teams, which means the producers behind NBA telecasts (be they local or national) will feel some heat from team and league executives to go to camera shots from atop the backboard more often, so as to publicize the advertising partner under the auspices of “let’s get a closer look at that dunk.” It’s a nice feature, those backboard cameras, but their perspective is often skewed, and they stand as more of a novelty than a needed go-to feature.

Secondly, the slippery slope was just hosed down with vegetable oil and liquid ball bearings.

It may seem relatively minor – covering the top of a backboard, and the place where the players’ long legs obscure with ads – but we’re well on our way toward covering just about every bit of real estate just to make one-seventh of what the Phoenix Suns will still have to pay Josh Childress in 2014-15. Your eyes and sensibility are subsidizing bad basketball moves, again.

Until the next lockout, at least.

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