The Golden State Warriors became the 14th NBA team to land a jersey sponsor for the upcoming season, and to nobody’s surprise the reigning champions once again blew away their competition.
The Warriors and Japanese tech giant Rakuten reached a three-year deal that will net $20 million annually for the title favorites, per ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell. The sum is roughly twice the next-closest jersey patch deal, a $10 million-plus agreement between the three-time returning Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.
Rakuten has committed to pay $295 million for jersey sponsorship rights combined to FC Barcelona & the Golden State Warriors pic.twitter.com/vKprsZfnlo
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) September 12, 2017
Rakuten is headquartered in San Francisco, where the Warriors were apparently fielding a number of lucrative offers, but settled on “the Amazon of Japan” to further reach a global audience.
“We actually had multiple finalists,” Warriors chief marketing officer Chip Bowers told ESPN.com. “This was not the biggest deal that we were offered. … We saw an opportunity, given the visibility we were receiving. So we felt in order to grow our global vision, we had to be aligned with a global brand.”
The deal also includes a rebranding of Golden State’s training facility to the Rakuten Performance Center as well as several other partnerships, including e-commerce and video services, per ESPN.
[Related: Grading all 30 new NBA uniforms]
The Warriors join 13 other teams to have reached jersey ad deals for the 2017-18 season:
Atlanta Hawks: Sharecare, between $2.5 million and $10 million annually
Boston Celtics: General Electric, more than $7 million annually
Brooklyn Nets: Infor, $8 million annually
Cleveland Cavaliers: Goodyear, more than $10 million annually
Denver Nuggets: Western Union Bank, between $5 million and $10 million annually
Detroit Pistons: Flagstar Bank, between $5 million and $10 million annually
Milwaukee Bucks: Harley-Davidson, between $2.5 million and $6 million annually
Minnesota Timberwolves: Fitbit, between $3 million and $8 million annually
Orlando Magic: Disney, between $5 million and $10 million annually
Philadelphia 76ers: Stubhub, $5 million annually
Sacramento Kings: Blue Diamond Almonds, $5 million annually
Toronto Raptors: Sun Life, more than $5 million (Canadian) annually
Utah Jazz: Qualtrics (5 for the Fight charity), $4 million annually
This season will mark the NBA’s first featuring jersey ads after owners approved a three-year trial run this past April. The ads will appear in 2.5-inch square patches on the left shoulder of players’ jerseys.
For the Warriors, owners of the second-largest payroll in the league, just behind the Cavs, according to spotrac.com, this deal essentially means Rakuten is footing the bill for Draymond Green and an additional $7.6 million for the next three years. That’s no small benefit for a team that admittedly went “way over” budget this season and will face stiff luxury tax penalties in the years to come.
Warriors owner Joe Lacob’s 2016 “light-years ahead” comments are looking less and less ridiculous by the day. Such are the benefits of being a budding dynasty in billionaire-centric Silicon Valley.
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