WNBA Pushes Basketball Closer To Sponsored Jerseys

Quick, look at that photo on the left and tell me where the Olympiakos logo is.

See it? 

Need a hint?  It looks like this.

Yes, that’s it up on the left, right above the Nike logo.  

Welcome to European basketball and the corporate sponsorship that adorns all of their jerseys.  And the NBA might not be that far off. 

The WNBA, which can be seen as a testing ground for future NBA moves, has announced a deal to put logos on every team’s jersey.

Ten of the 12 teams in the league will have the company’s logo featured on the front of their uniforms when they next play. San Antonio and Phoenix already have their own mobile deals and won’t have Boost Mobile on their jerseys, but still are part of the deal.

WNBA teams have been allowed to feature corporate sponsors on their uniforms for the past few years. Phoenix, Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington and New York already have company logos on their jerseys.

Here’s a look at how the Seattle Storm’s jersey’s look.

Don’t think for one minute this won’t happen at some point in NBA history.  It may not happen in the very near future, but some owner somewhere is going to break the seal in an effort to bring in more money.  It won’t be the Boston Celtics or the LA Lakers at first.  Their jerseys are too iconic. But newer teams that have changed their jerseys quite often in the “how many alternate jerseys can we make” era will no doubt start experimenting with it.  

If you watch any foreign basketball, you’ll see nothing but logos.  Fans there are as passionate about their teams as any fans anywhere.  So a suggestion that fans will be off-put by logos on jerseys won’t be entirely accurate.  Sure, some purists will object at first, but eventually the game will take over.  Fans of the teams won’t leave the team just because of a corporate logo.  

The WNBA isn’t exactly always going to be a precursor to NBA decisions, but don’t think these two leagues are unrelated either.  This is one of those things the WNBA can do that the NBA can’t yet. But the NBA will watch it closely to see how much money can be made, how fans react to it, and maybe how it can be implemented down the line.  Even Commissioner David Stern shared his thoughts on this development. And with the league being in the middle of a labor battle where owners are crying poor, this might be an avenue at least some of these smaller market owners will look into should this continue to go well for the WNBA.

Photo: olympiacos.org