Last April, the NBA owners voted in favor of allowing teams to sell advertising space on their uniforms starting in the 2017-18 season.
Any advertisement space on the jerseys would be small, and would only be on the upper left shoulder of the uniform.
Fans grumbled at the announcement for the following months, but it wasn’t until yesterday’s announcement that the Boston Celtics had sold ad space on their uniform to GE that the world seemed to go up in flames.
Yep, that’s right. The Celtics, one of the most storied franchises in all of American sports history, were one of the first teams to get in on the new initiative.
Here’s a look at the new GE-branded uniforms:
Not surprisingly, the internet was less than pleased. Here’s some Twitter reactions that I enjoyed:
I mean, Dylan has a point.
But seriously, this reaction is very predictable. Nobody was going to go, “Ya know, I really love that advertisement on my team’s jersey.” That goes double when it’s one of the most iconic and historically untouched uniforms in basketball.
But right there lies the kicker: it’s not for you, the fan. It’s a cash grab and it’s an easy and smart one. While we don’t know the exact details of the GE deal, reports are that it is a very healthy one. People so often mistake the NBA for something it isn’t; it’s a money-making machine. Deals like this keep that machine going.
I don’t like the patch. I don’t hate it and won’t be throwing a tantrum because of it’s presence, but I just don’t like it’s incorporation on the jersey. I think it’s is an eyesore on a uniform which carries a copious history behind it. However, I’ll move past it, like we are so accustomed to doing.
NBA fans will learn to accept this future because, at the end of the day, they should care about the product on the court and not what lies on the player’s shoulders. In a year or two, every team will don their new adverts (except the Lakers, but I’ll get to that in a second).
Here’s the three teams who already have their advertisement deals in place:
Okay, now lets talk about the Lakers. LA’s primary team was the only one out of the 30 in the Association to vote against advertisement motion. That’s pretty awesome. What would be even better is if they never give in. Sure, the sanctity of the Celtic’s jersey may be gone, but what if the Lakers flat out refuse to give in. I’m all for it.
Also, let’s not pretend that this is the first time that high-profile advertisement has seeped into an NBA arena. Just go to an NBA game and it’s like a 20,000 seat Super-Bowl commercial. Even arena names (The Smoothie King Center, Quicken Loans Arena) are just a gigantic ad. And if you think Celtic’s fans are mad now, it doesn’t even touch when the Boston Garden was renamed to the TD Garden back in 2009. It was pandemonium.
My point may be long-winded, but it will prove true. This deal will be just a small blip in NBA history. Right now, it’s easy to complain about “Greed, corruption, business oriented owners,” and all that jazz, but it will blow over.
I’ll end with a quick, somewhat comically morbid story. Red Auerbach, the legendary Celtics coach responsible for nine championships, was vehemently opposed to the idea of cheerleaders in the sport. In 2004, he famously told the Boston Globe that, “they’re just waiting for me to die so they can get cheerleaders.” In 2006, Auerbach passed away at the age of 89; the Celtics introduced their new cheerleading squad that same year.
The point? Oh the times are always a changin’.