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Ball Don't Lie

NBA jerseys will have sponsors soon, and we’re here to help

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On-clothing advertisements are a concept foreign to the NBA (Feng Li/ Getty).

Way back in March, BDL's Kelly Dwyer wrote a post detailing the NBA's interest in putting advertisements on their teams' jerseys. He spoke for all of us here in noting that the idea is crass and distasteful to anyone more focused on the sport of basketball itself than on the bottom lines of multinational conglomerates and their partners within the league. Sadly, jersey sponsorships are very much a step in the continued businessification of the sports world, and the time to make a meaningful stand against the movement was probably 20 years ago when every arena in the world traded its municipal name for that of a corporation. Some battles are lost well before they begin.

It is now time to get even more used to the idea of ads on jerseys, because it could be only a season or two away. At a meeting of the NBA's Board of Governors on Thursday, the owners discussed how best to implement these sponsorships. After the meeting, deputy commissioner Adam Silver gave a sense of their plans at a press conference. From Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:

NBA jerseys almost certainly will feature small sponsorship patches on the shoulder area in two years, a move that league officials estimate could generate $100 million in revenues per season. [...]

"I think it's fair to say that our teams were excited about the opportunity and think there is potentially a big opportunity in the marketplace to put a two by two patch on the shoulder of our jerseys," Silver said.

Silver later corrected himself, saying the patches would be 2.5 inches-by-2.5 inches. They would feature the names of companies -- think McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Kia, Apple -- and would put the NBA in lock step with international sports leagues whose player uniforms routinely are adorned with ads. WNBA teams already have sponsorship logos on their jerseys, but the NBA would be the first of the four major American pro sports leagues to take the plunge.

"My sense is that every team is in favor of doing this in some form," Silver said.

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It is no great surprise that the same group of 30 men who started the lockout last summer — during which these potential jersey profits may or may not have figured into financial discussions — would be in favor of making at least eight figures from a small patch on jerseys. Their assumption, I'm sure, is that fans will eventually get used to it, just as they got used to stadium name changes and sponsored timeout entertainment and $14 beers. This particular march of progress started long ago, and it's not going to abate unless every fan reads Marx and decides a bloody uprising is the best case scenario. (I call a spot in the vanguard!)

However, until the proles rise, we should probably at least hope for advertising that makes sense. With that in mind, I have suggested the best possible jersey sponsorship partners for each NBA franchise. Read on and witness the wonders of corporate synergy.

Boston Celtics: Geritol. I don't entirely know what Geritol is, or what it does. But I do know that only old people use it, and the Celtics are likely to appeal to the more mature set this season. What better way to reach out to older fans than to sell them something only they understand. It's like a secret club!

New York Knicks: Jaguar. A luxury item that falls apart and needs parts replaced regularly.

Philadelphia 76ers: Geno's Steaks and Pat's King of Steaks. It might seem odd to have two famous rival cheesesteak shops share space on the Sixers' uniform, but it's really not so different from putting two centers into the starting lineup. Plus, both make your body (or team) sluggish.

Toronto Raptors: Molson. It might seem unlikely for the NBA to allow beer logos on its jerseys. However, it is a little-known fact that Canadians are only allowed to drink beer and eat poutine, as decreed by their moose prime minister. Therefore, Molson was the only logical choice for this spot.

Brooklyn Nets: The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. There is much excitement about the Nets playing games in Brooklyn, as well as jokes about their players hobnobbing with buzzbands and dressing like designer hobos. The truth, however, is that everyone associated with the franchise will live in Manhattan and spend very little time living like a character from "Girls." They will all need unlimited-ride subway tickets, and the MTA is here to exploit that.

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Chicago Bulls: Jenga. Without Derrick Rose at full strength, the Bulls could have a hard time staying among the league's elite. In Jenga, removing just one piece can make the whole structure fall apart. Also, it is very cheap, just like Chicago's free-agent pickups this offseason.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Quicken Loans. Around the time of the housing crisis, Dan Gilbert's Quicken Loans came under fire for its predatory loaning practices. Nevertheless, Gilbert took the moral high ground during LeBron James' poorly conceived departure from Cleveland. Is there any reason he'd stop now and avoid giving one of his businesses more attention, especially with the Cavs looking much improved?

Detroit Pistons: Ford Taurus. A solid, affordable car from Detroit that neither inspires nor offends. A vessel that gets you from place to place, and little more. Who needs personality?

Milwaukee Bucks: Target crewneck undershirts. Head coach Scott Skiles is a man of simple tastes. He will not allow his team members to advertise anything that calls attention to itself.

Indiana Pacers: Miracle Whip. A few years ago, the Pacers were like mayonnaise — boring, plain, and a potential health risk. Now, they're good, and hip, and basically like Miracle Whip, which promotes itself as anything but ordinary. I've never had it, but I can only assume they lace their product with LSD.

Miami Heat: Polo Ralph Lauren. A high-class aesthetic for all. Elitist style manufactured for a class slightly below, though affordable enough to seem attainable.

Atlanta Hawks: The Nelly album "Suit/Sweat." The Hawks are trying to remake their image into that of a professional, Spurs-like organization after years of being poorly run. They want to be businessmen. Unfortunately for new GM Danny Ferry and the others who run the organization, they can't say goodbye to their partying ways just yet. They must balance their personalities, just like on this classic album by the master of American hip-hop.

Orlando Magic: Excedrin. Because this Dwight Howard headache isn't going to end anytime soon.

Washington Wizards: Pull-Ups Training Pants. The Wizards have hopes of making the playoffs this season and have constructed their roster accordingly. The problem here is that teams usually don't suddenly become postseason contenders, especially when their most important player (John Wall, in this case) is still learning how to be a top dog. Pull-Ups are a useful between-stages item and will help fans understand exactly what they are watching in DC.

Charlotte Bobcats: Bobcat Goldthwait. It might seem natural for owner Michael Jordan to use his eponymous Nike brand on his team's jerseys, but he would never align himself with such a terrible team. However, because the Bobcats are so bad, they cannot attract any companies and must settle for a funny-voiced yet interesting comedian/actor/writer/director.

Oklahoma City Thunder: "The Avengers" on Blu-Ray/DVD. Mark Ruffalo, who plays the Hulk in the Marvel blockbuster, is a big enemy of hydrofracking, an energy-company practice advocated by OKC co-owner Aubrey McClendon. In order to prevent future complaints, McClendon will allow Ruffalo to advertise his movies on Thunder uniforms.

Denver Nuggets: Skittles Riddles. The Nuggets' strength is in their depth, but that means they often don't know which player will be their best scoring option on any particular night. Skittles Riddles are just as delicious as regular Skittles, except the buyer doesn't know which flavor is which. What a delightful surprise!

Utah Jazz: The Natural Resources Defense Council. EnergySolutions, the company after which the Jazz arena is named, is the largest nuclear waste company in the country. With the NRDC on hand, the Jazz will show the world that they are not ecological terrorists, and that Enes Kanter will not randomly sprout a third arm during a February game against the Houston Rockets.

(Note: The original entry for the Jazz was a hack-ish, outdated joke about the Jazz franchise being really white. Thanks to the Jazz fans on Twitter who set me straight.)

Portland Trail Blazers: Windows 7. This operating system replaced Vista, a high-profile flop for Microsoft. Windows 7 is a marked improvement, but still not considered cool by anyone who lives in Portland. By connecting it to the beloved Blazers, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen will increase that market share if it kills him.

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Minnesota Timberwolves: Gillette. The shave company's new ad campaign features hip young endorsers like Andre 3000 and Gael Garcia Bernal discussing how best to sculpt their facial hair. Wolves stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio so far only have pretty standard beards, but their hair is still ripe for advertorial exploitation.

Los Angeles Lakers: Steve's $4,000 Sweatpants Emporium. No clothing store in Los Angeles makes as much money as Steve's, your one-stop shop for ridiculously expensive casual wear that makes you look like a schlubb in style. It's the essential element of any Angeleno's uniform.

Los Angeles Clippers: The American Civil Liberties Union. As stipulated in one of his housing discrimination settlements, owner Donald Sterling must use the ACLU logo for jersey sponsorships.

Phoenix Suns: Gucci. During lockout negotiations, owner Robert Sarver said that his wife told him to bring the mid-level exception back to her in a designer handbag. Now all Suns fans can luxuriate in the joy of owning a high-priced bag, or at least enjoy thinking about their owner's wonderful marriage every time they watch their favorite team.

Golden State Warriors: Globoozle.com. Joe Lacob comes from the world of venture capital, where even the stupidest ideas for companies earn millions of dollars in funds. Globoozle.com is the world's first website that combines social media, traveling, and home ownership so that vacationers can spend their entire trips tweeting about what it'd be like to live in that particular city based on very basic appraisals of properties in the area. Nobody in Silicon Valley knows how this service is valuable, but they're excited about it anyway.

Sacramento Kings: Taco Bell. An absolutely horrible meal that still tastes quite delicious, in its way. That makes it a perfect pairing for a bad team with DeMarcus Cousins and Thomas Robinson in the frontcourt. Plus, game times will perfectly coincide with Fourth Meal for fans watching on the East Coast.

Memphis Grizzlies: Curves. While most fitness chains try to beat their clients into shape, Curves preaches becoming comfortable with your body. As most people know, Grizz star Zach Randolph is a little pudgy. Sometimes, that extra heft helps him play his best.

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Houston Rockets: The Columbia House Music Club. As many music choices as you want, as long as you play by strict rules, with the potential to pay lots of money for very little in return. There are options, but only so many.

Dallas Mavericks: AXS TV. Mark Cuban is the founder of AXS, originally known as HDNet, the first network to air all its programs in high-definition. Despite the name change, they still show the same four concerts and reruns of "JAG" they always did. The Mavs have a new look, but chances are they're not going to do much better than they did in 2011-12. On the other hand, that one lady on "JAG" sure is pretty.

New Orleans Hornets: Tweezers. Look, I know a unibrow is distinct, but at some point a man gets too old for that look.

San Antonio Spurs: Milk. Wholesome, delicious, and good for you. What's not to like?

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