I have a new ESPN column running today about Penn State’s football uniforms (Link Here), but that’s on the back burner for now, because there’s major news afoot: NBA commissioner David Stern — often lauded in this space for being a stalwart holdout against logo creep — went from hero to zero last night by announcing that the league will permit jersey ads beginning in 2013-14.
Details are scant at the moment, in part because the announcement came shortly before midnight (sneaky, eh?). But here’s what I’ve been able to piece together:
• According to the NBA’s own web site, “[N]o vote was taken on putting advertisements on jerseys … [but there was] a strong preference to move forward. … The final decision will likely come in an e-mail vote in September.” So this isn’t yet a done deal, but it’s getting closer.
• That same article states that the uniform ads would be “2½ inches-by-2½ inches just above the heart.” But CBS basketball columnist Ken Berger is reporting that the size would be two inches square, not two and a half. Totally unacceptable either way, of course.
• Under the proposal being discussed, teams would be permitted to have uni ads but would not be required to do so, so some teams could stay ad-free. But deputy commish Adam Silver — the league’s point man for the uni ads — is quoted thusly in the NBA article: “My sense is that every team would do this in some form.”
• Silver has also given quotes indicating that the ads will be included on the jerseys sold at retail.
• My first thought (and maybe yours too) upon reading that the ads would go “just above the heart” was, “Hey, that’s where the NBA logo lives. Will they move that to the other side?” That point is addressed in this Las Vegas Sun article, which states that the ads “would bump the NBA logo either to the other side, where an Adidas logo is currently placed, or on the back of the jerseys.” Of course, there’s no Adidas logo on NBA game jerseys, although there is on retail jerseys, so it’s hard to know if this reporter was referring to the latter or if he’s just clueless. Either way, the thought of the NBA logo appearing on the back is interesting. After all, MLB does it, right? But the MLB logo is horizontal, not vertical, and many NBA teams already have their own logos at the rear neckline. Hmmmmm.
There’s some additional coverage here, and I expect there’ll be plenty more as people wake up this morning and hear what’s going on.
If this is a trial balloon, it’s one with a fairly short lead time. Basically, we have until September to organize a response (no, I don’t know the exact date of the September Board of Govs meeting, but that’s one of several things I’ll try to find out today). I have to admit, I’m surprised — I thought they’d take an incremental step, like putting ads on practice jerseys or warm-ups.
But maybe we can still get them to go that route if we make our voices heard. This is a genuine red-alert crisis, people — even if you don’t care about the NBA (I don’t much care about it myself), this move would open the door for uniform advertising in the other Big Four leagues. The threat is real, and the time to respond to it is now: Tweet to @nba with the hashtag #NoUniAds, send an e-mail to the league, call the league office (they’re in the book: 212-407-8000). Do all of those things, and tell them in no uncertain terms, “NO UNIFORM ADS!” And if the ads will make you less likely to buy a retail jersey, be sure to tell them that too.
Remember, folks, all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Your uni-verse needs you. You know what to do.
It’s sad that I still have to explain this after so many years, but I know some yobbo out there is about to post a comment saying, “What a hypocrite, look at all the ads on this web site!” Most of you are smart enough to know why that’s a faulty argument, but here’s the deal for you newbies: I’ve never once said I’m opposed to advertising; I’m just opposed to advertising where it doesn’t belong. This content you’re reading here is available for free. To help offset my costs, I sell advertising, which is what media enterprises have been doing to offset their costs for centuries. But NBA teams already have lots of revenue streams — ticket sales, TV rights, merchandising, concessions, arena naming rights, and so on. Do they really need the revenue from uniform ads, or are they just greedy? (Yes, that question is rhetorical.)
PermaRec update: Some old photos that I bought nearly 20 years ago at a junk shop are the focus of the latest Permanent Record blog entry. I think many of you will like this one — take a look.
Membership reminder: The Uni Watch Membership Program will soon have a price increase, but there’s still time for you to get in at the current price. Details here.
Raffle results: The five winners of the Bill Henderson jersey guide raffle are Alex Karels, Mark Peterson, Michael Williams, Andrew Jobe, and Dan Erbach. Watch your mailboxes, guys — Bill will be sending out your guides shortly.
Uni Watch News Ticker: “I saw the Spring 2013 Adidas NBA Catalog and there are some new on-court offerings,” says Chris Blackstone. “There are new jerseys for Christmas Day and for home weekend games during the second half of season, called the Winter Court jerseys. They’re monochrome like the all-black Miami uniforms from the past couple years, but in team colors. Also, there are Hardwood Classic jerseys for Indiana (home from 1997-98 through 2004-05), Milwaukee (late ’90s), Chicago (mid-’90s alternate), Atlanta (late-’90s road), Miami (late-’90s alternate), Sacramento (mid-’90s alternate), Phoenix (1990s alternate), Philly (early-’90s road), Cleveland (mid-’90s road), Toronto (late-’90ss home), Houston (late-’90s road), and Utah (late-’90s road).” No word on whether the NBA plans to put ads on throwbacks in 2013. … A woman who got tattoo to celebrate her role as an Olympix torch bearer was surprised to discover that the tattoo has a typo (from George Chilvers). … The Tribune Corp. is selling off a ton of old photos. Lots of good sports stuff in there — just search “baseball,” “football,” etc. (from Jake Elwell). … Lots of noteworthy aspects of this 1971 Adidas ad — including the word “Adidas” being misspelled at one point! — but the most interesting thing is that the Senators had an official shoe brand (big thanks to Ed Johnson, who scanned the ad from a 1971 program). … Buck Showalter famously refuses to be seen wearing a jersey, preferring to wear a dugout jacket or windbreaker. Now Chris Bruno has documented all the jackets Showalter has worn during his time with the Orioles. … The teams at Richland High School (Richland, Washington) are called the Bombers, which has led to an amusing logo and slogan (from Ronnie Poore). … The Hanwha Eagles wore throwback jerseys from the Binggrae days yesterday. “They didn’t wear pinstriped pants, most likely because they wanted to do it on the cheap,” says Dan Kurtz. … New kits for Galatasaray FC (from Leo Thornton). … Nestlé has had to backtrack on a new Kit Kat mascot character, because it looks too much like some cartoon character. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: In a classic “You can’t make this shit up” move, the Rockies have banned fans from wearing paper bags over their heads due to “security” concerns. … Yesterday I Ticker-linked to a photo of a guy wearing a duct tape baseball cap. Wanna do that yourself? here’s how (from Susan Freeman). … Andrew Farley spotted this Nets graffiti while walking around Brooklyn the other day. Street art or viral marketing? Hmmm. … Job cuts at Sports Illustrated. … Back in April of 2010, I got a note from Joe Baka, who said his sister was working on a Bernie Kosar quilt. More than two years later, here are the results: jersey-themed on one side and helmet-themed on the other. The rivet on the helmet is a nice touch. … Lots of old photos of a young Tony Gwynn in uniform here. … New football alts for Appalachian State (from Lucas Ehrbar). … Make fun of the Bengals all you want — I certainly do — but they’ve already announced their jersey schedule for the upcoming season. If they can do this, why can’t every team? (From Leo Strawn.) … JP Samsel notes that Cody Ross wears his shinguard under his uniform pants. … Here’s a good infographic on MLB team colors (from Nicole Haase). … Some awesome early-1900s New Jersey baseball photos here (from Robert Ruszczyk). … Remember Hinchliffe Stadium in New Jersey, which I wrote about two summers ago? There’s now an initiative to include it in a national park (from Dave Rakowski). … Hey, you know that Olympix thingie that’s about to start? The one with all the exclusive corporate branding that’s gonna bring in gobs and gobs of money? Turns out the organizers are asking musicians to play for free. That’s the Olympix spirit! “As a musician myself, I find this disgusting,” says Geoff Poole. At least it explains why they asked Keith Moon to play: Dead men don’t ask for union scale.
Over and out: Today is my last day on the site until Aug. 23, as my annual summer break is commencing. The Uni Watch e-mail address is being auto-forwarded to Phil, who’ll be handling the weekday entries; webmaster John Ekdahl will be handling the weekends (thanks, guys!). If you need to be in touch with me, just use the regular Uni Watch address, and Phil will forward your note to me. Also, there should be a lot of college football uni unveilings during this period, and I definitely want to know about those, so be sure to send those in — Phil will Ticker-ize them and also forward them to me so I can include them in my annual season-preview column.
I’ll still be doing ESPN work during this period (including a major project for August that my editors and I expect to attract some serious buzz), which Phil will inform you about as it becomes available, and I may drop in occasionally with a little announcement about this or that. For the most part, though, you won’t see me around here for the next month.
It feels weird to be going on break right when this NBA thing is developing, but the universe (and the uni-verse) often has an ironic sense of timing, no? In any case, Phil is perfectly capable of covering this story as it develops, and I’m still on the job over at ESPN, so I’ll be covering it from there. Be good, and I’ll see you back here in a month.