Earlier on Monday we congratulated the NBA for the low (heck, "no") key way in which it declined to publicize the hiring of two new female referees. Right now, we're going back to firing lobs at either the NBA's duplicitous initial report regarding the "tabling" of NBA jersey ad sales from Oct. 25th's NBA Board of Governors meeting, or at the New York Daily News' Mitch Lawrence for getting news of the impending ads all wrong. Either way, someone's screwing up.
Buried deep in Lawrence's Sunday notes column was this item:
NBA owners left the Board of Governors meetings in Las Vegas happy in one regard: The long-awaited move of putting advertising patches on jerseys becomes official in two seasons, meaning the league is going to find a new way to fill its coffers. Deputy commissioner Adam Silver projects the ads will contribute $100 million per season, with the revenue expected to be split 50-50 between owners and players, since it will be part of the basketball-related income pool. Patches will measure two inches by two inches and will be stitched onto the jersey's shoulder.
Now, this news comes in direct opposition to what the league disclosed to several media outlets two weeks ago, including ESPN's Darren Rovell:
The idea was to have a company pay to have its logo on a 2-inch-by 2-inch patch on the jersey front. But sources say the parties found that selling space on jerseys is quite complicated, and they needed more time to study it before the NBA becomes the first major sports league in the U.S. to sell an ad on its jerseys.
Complications could include issues of exclusivity and conflicts with player endorsements. Do NBA teams have to eliminate competitors of official sponsors in every category? What happens if a team sells a sponsorship to a company that competes with a company that the star player is endorsing?
Quite a difference between the move becoming "official," according to Lawrence.
Did the league agree to a two-year waiting period in order to seek out endorsers for the ads, while working out exclusivity kinks, while declining to alert the media that a time frame had been sent? Telling the press that they're tabling the idea for now, while establishing a 24-month cut off in order to sew on the ads by hook or by crook and keeping that a secret technically leaves them in the clear in terms of the honesty test.
And, if Lawrence's report is true, it's a pretty cynical and lousy thing to do in order to avoid a secondary story that would take away from the announcement that David Stern is going on one last victory tour before his February 2014 retirement.
I've been criticized before for my haughty and angry reaction to the league putting advertisements on jerseys in the past, but I'm just not over it and likely won't be by the start of the 2014-15 season. The people that buy these things to support their favorite player or team is under no obligation to indirectly endorse a company that he or she isn't getting paid by, the ads will cheapen the jerseys in innumerable ways, and no amount of "but other sports do it!" makes up for any of that. Brooklyn Bridge, jumping off, every other kid, etc.
Lawrence quotes Adam Silver's salvo in March that put the potential revenue of $100 million in the league's coffers for the ad-strewn jersey. Rovell's number ran as high as $157.5 million, though he may have confirmed that figure while tweeting while driving because that's just the sort of considerate guy Darren Rovell is.
It's bunko. And a figure over $100 million split half and half between players and owners spread out over 30 teams for a league that likes to continually bid against itself in tossing out ridiculous free-agent contracts to players that don't deserve the money isn't going to be worth the payoff of seeing an ad for an electronics company on your son's most expensive Christmas day gift. There has to be some tact in balancing aesthetics and good taste and commerce, and this just leans too far to the dark side.
According to Lawrence, the lean hasn't been tabled in the slightest. It's two years away.
Get your Christmas shopping done between now and then, I suppose.
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