February 07, 2011
The best players in the NBA sometimes appear to have otherworldly powers fit for heroes of legend and myth. These days, those stories typically take place in the world of comic books, where lowly teenage nerds can become arachnid warriors and impossibly rich defense contractors can build giant metal fighting suits and gain a minor social conscience. Truly, anything is possible in the world of the comic, just like in the world of professional basketball.
So it makes some sense that the NBA and Marvel Comics would team up for an apparel deal putting several of the company's most famous superheroes in the colors and logos of various NBA teams. From the league's press release (currently unavailable online, but check the Associated Press article here):
Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a global character-based entertainment licensing company, and the National Basketball Association today announced a collaboration to launch an exclusive collection of co-branded merchandise featuring NBA team logos alongside some of the most renowned Super Heroes in the Marvel Universe. The Super Hero-inspired line will include co-branded apparel and accessories, with artwork featuring a variety of Marvel Super Heroes -- including premier character brands Spider-Man, Iron Man and Captain America, among many others -- dressed in NBA team colors and logos.
Marvel has ventured into sports lately with an ESPN the Magazine series devoted to repurposing NBA teams as superheroes, so this isn't there first NBA tie-in. (There was also a thoroughly misguided NHL project in which each team's mascot got its own comic book that was originally identified here as a Marvel product, but that was actually headed up by former Marvel luminary Stan Lee.) However, this new relationship is quite different in that Marvel will effectively loan out its most recognizable figures to the league for its own promotional purposes. I'd say that Marvel is selling out its good name for a dollar, but I'm pretty sure that ship sailed long ago when it allowed Ben Affleck to play a blind lawyer who fights crime by night. Whoops!
Still, this tie-in exists, and so we should aim to pair the heroes with the correct teams. The NBA shouldn't just assign things willy-nilly -- they must also seek to maintain the integrity of those who protect the world from evil. So make sure to pair the Lakers with Iron Man, because both are brash and insanely rich, but don't just make the Hulk a Celtics fan because he's green.