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December 20, 2014

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Pro basketball:

Jersey ads may soon be coming to an NBA team near you, say league’s leaders

Commissioner David Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver weighed in on several league topics Thursday at Encore Las Vegas

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Christopher DeVargas

NBA’s Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, left, and Commissioner David Stern, right, speak to the press at Encore Las Vegas, Thursday July 19, 2012.

NBA Commissioner Stern

NBA Commissioner David Stern speaks to the press at Encore Las Vegas, Thursday July 19, 2012. Launch slideshow »

If you’ve ever wondered how a Staples logo would look on a Los Angeles Lakers jersey or an American Airlines emblem on the Miami Heat’s chests, you may soon find out.

Small, 2½-inch-by-2½-inch advertising patches may be coming to the NBA as soon as the 2013-14 season, league Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday.

Silver and NBA Commissioner David Stern held a 20-minute press conference at Encore Las Vegas following the annual summer Board of Governors meeting, an event that further strengthens Las Vegas’ case as the summer basketball mecca. The meeting’s agenda topics included updating the league owners with results of the new collective bargaining agreement and a couple of sales around the league, adopting some rules changes regarding the use of instant replay and essentially gauging league-wide interest on jersey advertising.

“My sense is that every team is in favor of doing this in some form,” Silver said. While there was no official vote to implement the ads — that’s expected to happen at September’s meeting — Silver seemed confident that it’s just a matter of time. They already know the patches would go on the left shoulder, which would bump the NBA logo either to the other side or on the back of the jerseys. Current authentic jerseys have blank right shoulders, but on the replicas that's the location of the adidas logo.

And, most importantly, they have a projection for the added annual revenue: $100 million.

Taking that number into account, the idea seems like a slam dunk. It creates revenue out of thin air, and any businessman — and that’s exactly what NBA owners are — would have a hard time turning that down.

Silver said the league would like to get the advertising guidelines put in place prior to the upcoming 2012-13 season, which would give all 30 teams time to seek out the best possible company for their franchise (the above examples are those respective teams’ current arena sponsors). While none of the four major American sports currently has any non-outfitter, on uniform advertising, it’s commonplace in other sports across the country and across the globe.

International soccer teams and, more recently the MLS, have been doing it for years. Even the NBA has already dipped its toes into jersey ads with at least some teams in both the D-League (since 2010) and WNBA (since 2009). Silver said WNBA teams receive between $750,000 and $1 million for their sponsorship deals, which feature much larger ads and often include more marketing opportunities than just the jersey.

“We had told the teams we wanted to have additional discussion, especially so that there was a full understanding on a team-by-team basis of how the additional revenue would affect both their ability to be competitive and profitable,” Silver said.

The extra time on the jerseys — 2013 instead of 2012 — is also to give adidas an appropriate window to produce new ad-included replica jerseys to be sold at games and sporting goods stores.

The NBA may also borrow soccer’s model for Olympic competition.

During the NBA Finals, Stern said the league needed to “step back and take stock of where we’re going” in terms of sending the league’s best to compete against the rest of the world. While Team USA was in Vegas for the first leg of its training camp, the players were adamant that they wanted to keep the format the same way it’s been since 1992’s Dream Team.

The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant took that a step further Wednesday in Manchester, England, telling reporters that switching to the 23-and-under Olympics format used by international soccer teams is “a stupid idea.”

On Thursday, Stern made it clear he has no official stance and is not backing one plan over any other. He just suggested that the owners look at the situation and evaluate if that’s the best setup going forward. Then Stern pulled out his deadpan.

“I think Kobe is right. Maybe it is a stupid idea and soccer is stupid,” Stern joked, “but we should see how that works out. But I would never argue with Kobe.”

Here are some other notes from the meeting:

• The board voted to use instant replay on all flagrant fouls to determine if they are a one, a two or just a regular foul

• Instant replay will also be used in the last two minutes of regulation and at any point in overtime to determine if a defender was inside or outside the restricted area in the lane and to determine the accuracy of a goaltending call.

• Flopping, a hot topic during these recent NBA Finals, was discussed but was mostly passed on to the competition committee for further study and discussion in September.

• Stern updated the owners on the sale of the Memphis Grizzlies from Michael Heisley to Robert Pera, who agreed to take over majority ownership in June. Stern said the deal is on pace to be finished and approved in the next couple of months. The league also approved the sale of the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan’s ownership interest in the Toronto Raptors to Bell Canada and Rogers Communications.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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