Adam Silver has repeatedly called advertising on NBA jerseys inevitable.
Now – after facing numerous obstacles – the commissioner is on the verge of being proven correct.
NBA owners are scheduled to vote this week on putting ads on jerseys for the 2017-18 season, multiple sources told ESPN.
The measure is expected to pass, according to sources. Several teams have begun testing the market to sell the potentially lucrative ads, which would be placed in a 2.5-by-2.5-inch patch on the left shoulder.
The initial proposal to owners was for teams to keep 50 percent of the sponsorship money from the jersey ads and for 50 percent to be added to the revenue-sharing pool for all teams.
The NBA recently signed new national television and apparel deals where the ads were part of the negotiations. In 2017, Nike will take over from Adidas as the league’s uniform provider when the ads are expected to debut.
Like most, I don’t like the idea of advertising on NBA jerseys – or advertising creeping into any facet of my life. But the NBA should not operate based on my comfort. The NBA is a business that should attempt to maximize profit, which also benefits players thanks to their salaries being tied to revenue.
That doesn’t necessarily make these ads wise, though.
Will the ads diminish the prestige of the NBA? Will the ads cause fans to buy fewer jerseys? Will potential sponsors pay teams’ asking price for the ads? Will sponsors spend new money on the ads rather than diverting money already spent on the NBA?
These are practical, not philosophical, concerns.
If NBA teams feel they have found suitable answers to those questions, more power to them.
There’s also the issue of how they split up their money, but a 50-50 split – after the players’ cut, I presume – between keeping and sharing seems reasonable.
That said, the measure hasn’t officially passed. Lottery reform looked inevitable until enough owners reversed course late in the process to vote it down. If anyone has reservations about jersey advertising – or, more likely, this specific plan for jersey advertising – now is the time to convince owners.
But as Silver has said, it seems inevitable.