When the NBA hired Malcolm Turner as president of the NBA Developmental League in 2014, one of commissioner Adam Silver’s top directives for his new hire was to land a sponsor for the NBA’s minor league system. The league announced on Tuesday morning that Turner had succeeded in that mission.
The D-League reached a multi-year agreement with PepsiCo to rebrand the soon-to-be 25-team organization as the NBA Gatorade League, or G-League, beginning with the 2017-18 season. AdAge.com first reported the deal on Monday, and the D-League made it official the following morning.
The new G-League logo, which features Gatorade’s insignia on the lower right, will be featured on game balls, jerseys, on-court signage and digital assets, the league announced. Teams can also collaborate with the Gatorade Sports Science Institute to customize training regimens for players.
“As one of the most iconic brands in the world and a founding partner of the NBA Development League, Gatorade is an ideal fit for this first-of-its-kind partnership,” NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum said in a statement. “The NBA D-League has prepared hundreds of players for the NBA and Gatorade has always been focused on fueling players to perform at the highest level. We look forward to collaborating with the renowned GSSI team to enhance player development and our game.”
The deal makes sense for the D-League, which could use the increased revenue in its pursuit to build a true minor league system, with all 30 NBA teams eventually having a one-to-one relationship with a developmental team. The D-League already features advertisements on team’s jerseys, and the naming-rights deal is another page out the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague revenue building book.
The worry here would be that the NBA, which recently announced advertisements on its own league’s jerseys planned for the 2017-18 season, would consider a similar rebrand, and any further potential sponsorship would grant corporations too much power in the association’s decision-making process.
G-League is a pretty sweet name, but how much Gatorade gets out of this deal remains to be seen. Whether your casual Sioux Falls Skyforce fan — and you can guess how many of those there are — will choose the league’s official sponsor over another sports drink is up for debate. But Gatorade’s parent company, PepsiCo, is already the NBA’s official sponsor, and this further solidifies their relationship.
At the very least, the deal is good for a few jokes:
I saw G-League and thought 50 was starting up a league where you hoop in Timbs and size 40 G-Unit jeans
— La Máquina (@Mariannoo) February 14, 2017
G-Funk: excellent music
G-Unit: extremely good unit
G-League: Probably going to be a great basketball league
— Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) February 14, 2017
The only G-League I recognize is the one with Iverson, Ice Cube, Sprewell and Co. pic.twitter.com/cln3lehHvo
— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) February 14, 2017
The rebranding from D-League to G-League isn’t a difficult transition, but hopefully it allows team owners to start paying players more than the current maximum $25,000 salary. And if they were really smart, players should get in on this action, just so we can see Vander Blue Gatorade’s name in lights.
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• Source: Magic deal Serge Ibaka
• In his first interview since sending insensitive tweets, Steve Clevenger says he’s not racist
• Cubs no longer World Series favorites
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