Some new developments on the NBA’s uniform advertising program yesterday. As you may recall, the Board of Governors was supposed to take a final e-mail vote on the plan at some point in September. But September came and went, and there was no word from the league about the results of the vote, or about anything else pertaining to the uni advertising plan.
When the parameters of the plan were laid out in July, league VP Adam Silver said, “My sense is that every team is in favor of doing this in some form.” Commish David Stern, who has always stood up for the sanctity of the uniform (he has single-handedly kept maker’s marks off of NBA uniforms) had little to say at the time, and now we know why: He doesn’t like the plan. Speaking to reporters yesterday, Stern had this to say about the uni advertising plan:
“As a personal matter, I am not in favor of it, but I’m not standing in the way of it. If my board wants to do it, we’ll do it. … [NBA uniforms have] no information of the manufacturer and no sponsor, and that is something that I have worked hard to preserve for many decades. But I understand that the time may have to come to consider it. So we’re going to let the Board of Governors decide what to do.”
Those quotes come from this Comcast SportsNet article, which appeared last night (I believe the time stamp on it is wrong). Yahoo Sports blogger Eric Freeman quickly picked up the story by presenting a summary of the Comcast article and offering his own analysis, although he painted a somewhat rosier picture than I think is accurate. The headline on Freeman’s story is “David Stern claims owners are divided on jersey advertisements,” and his text includes this: “[I]t appears that NBA owners are not unified on this front. According to David Stern, disagreement among owners is holding up any plans for ads on jerseys.”
That would be great if it were true. But remember, Freeman’s piece is just an analysis of the Comcast piece. And I don’t see anything in the Comcast piece to support Freeman’s claims of the owners disagreeing or being divided. The Comcast piece does, however, offer three significant insights:
1) The Board of Govs is still considering the plan, which means the final vote, which had supposedly been slated for September, has apparently not yet taken place.
2) While I think it’s a stretch to say that the owners are divided on this issue (at least based on Stern’s comments), the plan doesn’t sound like a completely done deal either (again, based only on Stern’s comments).
3) David Stern knows in his heart that uniform advertising is wrong, but he apparently lacks the will and/or the power prevent it from happening. On the one hand, this is not surprising: The commissioner, after all, is an employee of the owners, and at least some of the NBA owners — perhaps most of them — clearly want this new revenue stream. On the other hand, Stern is by far the longest-tenured of the Big Four commissioners and is generally considered to be the most powerful among them as well, so it’s hard for me to believe he couldn’t have put his foot down on this if he’d wanted to. But he’s apparently chosen not to expend personal and political capital on this issue. In his own words, “I am not in favor of it, but I’m not standing in the way of it.” That’s a disappointing cop-out, like a politician voting “Present” on a controversial piece of legislation. By contrast, when Bud Selig and Roger Goodell were asked about uniform advertising in the wake of the NBA’s announcement back in July, both of them basically said, “Yeah, that won’t be happening anytime soon in my league.” You can be sure that there are some MLB and NFL owners who’d like to have uniform ads, but Selig and Goodell took charge of the issue and put the kibosh on it themselves. Too bad Stern couldn’t or wouldn’t do that for his league. (Then again, Selig and Goodell don’t have to deal with Mark Cuban, who’s been agitating for NBA uniform ads for years now.)
I take all of this with highly guarded optimism. Frankly, I had assumed that the September vote had been taken and that the league was waiting to announce it on the day after Thanksgiving or some other time when they hoped nobody would notice. But if the vote hasn’t taken place yet — a vote that was going to be conducted via e-mail, so it’s not like they had to arrange everyone’s schedule in order to get everyone in one room — that’s a good sign. And while Stern’s comments aren’t precisely what I wish he’d say, they aren’t exactly a ringing endorsement of the uni ad plan either. When the guy running your league basically says, “Meh” about a major new program, that’s not a good sign for the program.
We’ll have to see how this all plays out, natch. But I’ll take whatever morsels of good news on this front that I can get, and yesterday’s developments definitely qualify. #NoUniAds
(Oh, the Sporting News ran its own story about Stern’s comments. It kicks off with a blockbuster of a claim — “The NBA could soon do away with block letters and large numbers on team uniforms to make room for public sponsors and ad campaigns” — but then the next graf says, “[T]eam owners have begun to mull over the possibility of placing ads on NBA jerseys,” which makes me think the writer just has no idea what’s going on with this storyline.)
By Brinke Guthrie
We’re kicking off this week with a pair of Collector’s Corner favorites. First, it’s not unusual to see those 1970s Gatorade NFL caps floating around, but you don’t often see a full set of them. And if you’d rather have something a bit smaller but every bit as cool, here’s a full set of NFL Chiquita stickers. (Note, however, that the listing claims that it includes a “Boston Patriots” sticker, but the photo shows “New England.”)
As for the rest of this week’s eBay finds:
• This Cleveland Browns long-sleeve polo looks 1980s to me, despite the “1970s-1980s” description. Not from Adidas, although the three-stripe look sure is Adidas-esque.
• This seller claims that this Staubach jersey was worn for a 1970s TV commercial. I can see that — it’s close, but not too close. [Would be a lot more credible if they could say what the commercial was for, though. — PL]
• Loved the look on this Chiefs jacket from Logo Athletic. This was a continuation of the design used on their “sharktooth”-style cap. Liked that whole NFL Pro Line look, too — better than the “all for one and one for all” Nike uniformity.
• This New York Baseball Giants pennant looks to be in great shape despite its age.
• And we wrap up this week with a gorgeous pair of Kansas City Kings game-worn shorts. Nice!
PermaRec update: If you’re from Boulder, Colorado, you’ll definitely want to check out the latest entry on the Permanent Record Blog, which is about an amazing 1960s ledger/journal from a Boulder pharmacy that I recently acquired. But even if you’ve never been to Boulder (I’ve never been there myself), I think many of you will really like this one — the ledger was compiled in a very obsessive way that will appeal to Uni Watch readers, and it has lots of intriuging stories lurking in its pages. Get the full scoop here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Been a while since I’ve picked up a vintage uniform catalog on eBay, but I won this one last night. More photos once I receive the item from the seller. … The Wounded Warrior Project is a worthy program, but this year’s WWP uniforms, produced by Under Armour for Boston College (to be worn on Oct. 27) and Hawaii (Nov. 24), engage in some particularly egregious flag-desecration costumery. Why not just dress them up in Captain America outfits and get it over with? At least the BC design will be worn just a few days prior to Halloween, which is appropriate. The press release describes the designs as “patriotic,” which just confirms the old line about the last refuge of a scoundrel. (As a bonus, Christian Eidt says, “In 35 years of following BC, I cannot recall any other time they’ve worn white at home.”) … Meanwhile, the G.I. Joe thing has spread to the high school ranks. That’s Center Gove High, from Indiana. More disturbing than the camo pattern is the fact that the jerseys were sponsored by the National Guard, which strikes me as highly inappropriate (from Nile Smith). … New “battle” uniform, whatever that means, for South Carolina, and holy shit is it ugly. … Yesterday I Ticker-linked to a “Gatorade Only” poster in the Comerica Park dugout. Several readers wrote in to say they’d seen that same poster in most of the other postseason dugouts. “I assume it has to do with the playoffs being an MLB production and MLB taking control of all advertisements,” says Rick Lynch. “The Giants normally have Powerade in the dugout, because they serve Coke products, but in the postseason they used Gatorade. Also, AT&T Park has had to cover up a lot of its ads with generic ‘MLB Postseason’ ads.” … You know what a multi-gazillion-dollar industry with cash leaking out of its asshole and a Federal antitrust exemption really needs more of? Volunteer labor. Just another example of how anything is possible once you’ve had your shame gland surgically removed. No word on whether the volunteers will be dismissed if they’re caught drinking Powerade. … Alberto Sanchez notes that the Texans’ captaincy patches were kinda crooked last night (and yes, their collars still look like shite). … Really, really interesting infographic on the history of risk management in baseball (big thanks to Tony Macrito). … Many readers noticed that the Indians’ announcement regarding the hiring of Terry Francona included a Photoshopped image showing Francona in a 2011 jersey. … Interesting overlap of Uni Watch and meat: Did you know that Filipinos refer to chicken feet as “adidas”? It’s true (thanks, Kirsten). … Also from Kirsten: Want to knit your own college football mittens? Look here and here. … With Vanderbilt wearing all-white last Saturday, coach James Franklin did his part, complete with a white swoosh (from Will Edge). … Further evidence that purple is evil. … Saw Looper last night. Liked it, but my favorite detail is that the economy of the future runs primarily on silver ingots. Like I always say during the Olympix, go for the silver! … Two Notre Dame football items from Warren Junium: Good before/after shots of a reconditioned helmet, and — of course — pink gear for this weekend. … Oooh, awesome socks being worn by Lazio, a Rome soccer club (from Michael Orr). … Illustrator Gyula Németh has started a Kickstarter project to fund what looks to be a really cool illustrated history of pro football. Definitely something worthy of your consideration. … Yesterday I Ticker-linked to a photo of what appeared to be a Pens/Habs color-on-color game. Now Jerry Wolper has found a confirming photo, along with an explanation, which is buried within this article: “The Penguins were wearing their blue road uniforms last night. Their regular white home uniforms faded over the summer and the areas that should be black turned green. New white uniforms are on order.” … The Giants played at home on Sunday and then the Jets played at home last night. Here’s a video showing how the whole stadium — field, signs, vendors’ product, etc. — was turned over (from Kevin Corcoran).