Last season , the NBA D-League set numerous benchmarks for itself; a record amount of call-ups, player assignments, and experienced the most television exposure in its 11-year history with over 240 games televised across its family of networks.The League also pioneered a business revenue venture regarding team's uniforms, that will likely be the foundation for what's to come in the NBA.
Recently, the NBA commissioner David Stern commented on the topic regarding ads on NBA uniforms. In an interview with A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com, Stern positioned himself away from the owners in the likely upcoming decision, "As a personal matter, I am not in favor of it, but I'm not standing in the way of it," Stern said. "If my board wants to do it, we'll do it."
Stern's comments on the issue sparked the debate once again on whether or not, ads on NBA uniforms would be tolerable for fans. Unique to the NBA up until this point, their jerseys has been spared when it comes to advertisements, other high stakes professional sports leagues have done so already, most notably in soccer.
In last season's NBA D-League playoffs, Spain's Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria S.A. signed a deal to make the bank a presenting partner for the entire playoffs. Not only did "BBVA" read across court floors and banners inside the arenas, but most importantly, their logo adorned the back of player's jerseys. Instead of the commonly placed player's last name above the numbers, it was the company's logo that held the valued real estate, moving the player's last names below their number.
With the unprecedented move, NBA D-League president Dan Reed praised the ability of the league to be a research and development asset for the NBA. "We have a license to experiment," Reed said back when the D-League unveiled it's agreement with the bank to feature it's logo in April of last season.
Should the D-League keep providing the NBA with examples of progress in regard to advertising? Why not? The league is coming off it's most successful season in it's history and corporations are taking notice. In Bakersfield, California, the Jam established a deal with Dignity Health Bakersfield that allows the company the naming rights to their state-of-the-art basketball arena. The agreement with the Jam and Dignity Health Bakersfield, is the first naming rights deal involving an NBA D-League team and a team owned building.
NBA D-League president Dan Reed is right, the D-League should present itself as the research and development department for the NBA. With the impending NBA owners decision to allow advertisements to be placed on player's uniforms, Stern could steer fans attention to the D-League where perhaps league-wide participation in jersey advertising has already been successful. Experiments could take place on where advertisements are placed most effectively, yet not a distraction for the fans.
The NBA D-League has already established itself as the most effective avenue in which players can achieve their NBA dream, why not be the leader, and at the forefront for the future of advertising in professional basketball?