76ers become first NBA team to find a sponsor for jersey ads

Ball Don't Lie

After years of debate and negotiation, the NBA finally approved a three-year trial of advertisements on jerseys last month, and it didn't take long for the first team to lock in its sponsor for all three years.

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The Philadelphia 76ers dove headfirst into the murky waters of jersey ads, announcing a three-year partnership with ticket resale company StubHub on the team website. The deal will earn the Sixers an annual advertising rate of $5 million starting in 2017-18, according to ESPN.com's Darren Rovell.

β€œThis marks another groundbreaking first for the Philadelphia 76ers and StubHub.  Our brands are now inextricably linked as we create lifelong memories for our fans in Philadelphia and around the world,” 76ers CEO Scott O’Neil said in a statement. β€œOur partnership with StubHub continues to generate progressive and forward-thinking platforms created to improve the fan experience and advance our industry. The essence of our relationship with StubHub is our shared culture and ambition to innovate, which drives us to reimagine traditional partnership activation and continually ask, 'what if'?" 

Well, that's something. It's groundbreaking, sure, since the deal marks the first for the four major North American sports leagues, but I'm not sure how a 2 1/2-square-inch space on the left shoulder of jerseys improves the fan experience and reimagines the business of sports as we know it. We've been asking "What if?" about jersey ads for years now, and other sports like soccer have long sold ads on uniforms.

It should not be lost anyone that the 76ers were the NBA's cheapest team this past year, spending just a tick over the salary cap floor of $63 million in 2015-16 and putting the league's worst product on the floor for a third straight season. The 10-win Sixers enter Tuesday's lottery with the best odds of a No. 1 pick.

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So, other than the No. 1 overall pick potentially wearing a StubHub ad on his jersey next season, let's not get overly excited about this lifelong memory for fans of a team that just lined its pockets a little more.

It should also not be lost on anyone that the Sixers used a giant caricature of Betsy Ross β€” believed to be the first person to stitch an American flag by hand in 1776 β€” to shill these new ad-adorned jerseys. 

And one more note before we leave you to purchase your very own ad-soaked jersey, since surely you cannot wait. We should point out that the NBA sold its first jersey ad to a company that's business plan is built around selling tickets to fans at a markup. So, interpret that partnership however you would like.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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