But of course it is.
The NBA announced last week that teams will soon be allowed to feature corporate logos on their jerseys. The logos will debut during the 2017-2018 season (the same year Nike takes over for Adidas as the league’s official uniform provider). This means two things:
- Companies can begin pitching teams for sponsorship…
- I can save everyone the trouble by using Photoshop (and a little research) to find the perfect corporate sponsor for each team!
My Self-Imposed Guidelines:
- The team’s corporate sponsor can’t already sponsor the team’s arena (down with monopolies, I say!). Likewise, the corporate sponsor can’t conflict with the arena sponsor (i.e. the Staples Center = no Office Depot; the Smoothie King Center = no…Jamba Juice?)
- Look at companies that are headquartered/based in the area
- Factor in the team’s ownership and his/her investments
- Factor in, to a lesser degree, the team’s players (both current and all-time)
- Factor in, to an even lesser degree, the team’s mascot
- Intangibles are key (company has a great angle/fit, logo matches the color scheme, etc.)
Why They Fit: The Hawks play at Philips Arena (no conflict). Chick-fil-A keeps the bird motif alive as well as the team’s red color scheme. Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays; this past season the Hawks played only eight games on a Sunday and lost half of them, so they might as well follow suit with their schedule. Also, former basketball player Tim Hardaway has made a huge turnaround from his controversial stance on same-sex marriage; his son, Tim Hardaway Jr., plays for the Hawks and could hopefully help Chick-fil-A do the same.
Sponsor: Lucky Charms (via General Mills)
Why They Fit: They share the same mascot in Lucky the Leprechaun. They play in the TD Garden (no conflict). Most importantly, their young core of players along with “boy wonder” head coach, Brad Stevens, all look like they still eat cereal and milk every morning.
Why They Fit: First, you remove Barclays from the equation, because the Nets play at the Barclays Center. Next, you really want to go with one of team owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s Russian businesses, like ONEXIM Group (major private investment fund) or Polyus Gold (Russia’s largest gold producer), just so you could see Deron Williams rockin’ their logos. But then you remember four magical words: H to the Izz-o. In 2013, Jay Z had to give up his share of the Nets in order to rep players through his agency, Roc Nation Sports. He’s still a huge fan, though, and would be able to support his team through his music streaming service, Tidal. The color scheme matches beautifully, and, like Tidal, the Nets have been a disappointing flop.
Sponsor: Burt’s Bees
Why They Fit: After ruling out telecommunications companies because of Time Warner Cable Arena, your best bet is Brand Jordan. His Airness owns the Hornets, and I’m sure the thought of the “Jumpman” logo opposite a Nike swoosh is enough to make the Sad Jordan meme disappear forever. But according to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, the Hornets’ jerseys will likely already feature the subsidiary Brand Jordan logo in place of Nike’s. This opens things up and leads us to Burt’s Bees. The company is based out of Durham, N.C. and is on-brand with the species’ suborder (Apocrita, for those scoring at home). If only founder Burt Shavitz were still alive. He could be the Lou Adler to Jordan’s Jack Nicholson, courtside.
Sponsor: Red Bull
Why They Fit: Sometimes the obvious choice is the best choice. The United Center knocks out other airline companies, though Boeing, an aircraft manufacturing company (also headquartered in Chicago) would still qualify. Boeing harkens back to the Air Jordan “Take Flight” era. More fittingly, they used to be a big company but suffered huge setbacks after an outsourcing disaster that stemmed from a “change in approach.” Still, Boeing isn’t really sexy and doesn’t offer any added value to the Bulls. Red Bull, however, is spot-on with the team’s mascot, they have plenty of sports marketing experience, and could hopefully give the Bulls the wings they need to take flight back into the playoffs.
Sponsor: Blaze Pizza
Why They Fit: Because, if we’ve learned anything, what King James wants, King James gets. LeBron is one of the company’s original investors as well as their spokesman. Like Blaze Pizza, LeBron had his previous coach “Fast-Fire’d.” If he asked Cavs owner Dan Gilbert to make them the corporate sponsor, well…he wouldn’t exactly be “asking.” Plus, Blaze’s 800-degree open-flame ovens are a great place for Cavs fans to burn their new LeBron jerseys after he inevitably leaves them for a second time.
Sponsor: Mark Cuban’s “Shark Tank” Investments
Why They Fit: At first, it was Volkswagen. It HAD to be Volkswagen. Huge car manufacturer, German connection with the greatest Mavs player of all-time, and a similar blue/white color scheme. But then you realize Dirk Nowtizki is nearing retirement, and he’s publicly stated he has no desire for a retirement tour, a la Kobe Bryant. He doesn’t want the unnecessary attention, and Volkswagen should have no interest in a post-Dirk Mavericks organization. So you turn to outspoken owner Mark Cuban. Cyber Dust? C’mon, son. Landmark Theatres? Magnolia Pictures? We deserve better…and that’s why you go with one of the best shows on television–“Shark Tank.” The beauty is that under his “Shark Tank” investment umbrella, Cuban would be able to swap out company logos whenever he wanted. One game the Mavs are sporting the logo for Hy-Conn (super-fast connectors for fire hydrants and hoses; $1,250,000 investment at 100% equity), the next game they’re rockin’ the logo for Rugged Maniac Obstacle Race ($1,750,000 investment at 25% equity). Take that, Mr. Wonderful!
Why They Fit: Nuggets. Golden nuggets. Chicken nuggets. Denver Nuggets. All they have to do now is trade for Doug McDermott and K.J. McDaniels and then coax Antonio McDyess out of retirement.
Why They Fit: Detroit. The Motor City. Ford Headquarters. Both were once prosperous, both suffered major setbacks, and both are now profitable again.
Golden State Warriors
Sponsor: Armor All
Why They Fit: I had to look up what the “Oracle” in Oracle Arena stands for (a computer technology corporation). This meant no potential connections between “splash pages” and “Splash brothers.” While Nike’s logo will be appearing on the team’s jerseys, Steph Curry was famously spurned by them–and thus landed with Under Armour. Would the Warriors back their superstar to the max and put the Under Armour logo opposite the Nike swoosh as the ultimate sign of retribution? That would be pretty cool…but we’re talking about the best basketball player in the world right now. We can do better. Plus, the Charlotte Hornets are already setting a precedent by swapping out the swoosh logo. As a result, the Warriors would become the only team in the NBA to not wear Nike and instead don Curry’s Under Armor. Enter Armor All. The company used to be based in Oakland, their logo features a warrior, and, like Golden State’s style of play, they keep everything looking so fresh and so clean, clean.
Why They Fit: “Houston, we have a problem.”
Sponsor: Miller Brewing Company
Why They Fit: Take a look inside Bankers Life Field House right now and what do you see? A team named after the race car industry, a president in all-time Celtics great Larry Bird, and a resurrecting star in Paul George. To me, though, the Pacers will always bring the name “Miller” to mind. As in, Reggie Miller–feuding with Spike Lee and the Knicks, getting 8 points in 9 seconds, making me feel invincible in “NBA Jam.” Miller Brewing can capitalize on this and keep fans from feeling icky about corporate sponsors. Yes, they’re based in Milwaukee, but the Bucks don’t need them (more on that in a bit), plus they have a brewing facility in Trenton, Ohio…which is BASICALLY Indiana. Go on, Pacers fans, you know what time it is…
Los Angeles Clippers
Why They Fit: Blake Griffin has strong ties to Kia, but there’s no telling how long he’ll be a Clipper. Besides, he’s just a player. Owner Steve Ballmer used to be the CEO of Microsoft, so that pretty much seals the deal.With that, we now go live to Steve Ballmer. Steve?
Los Angeles Lakers
Why They Fit: What better way to honor the legacy of a departing superstar while simultaneously looking towards the future of their current roster? AshleyMadison.com ties the whole infidelity theme together with a pink and white logo that truly pops on that Laker gold, making you say, “Wow! I can’t believe they can get away with that!” Here’s to you, Kobe, D’Angelo and Swaggy P!
Why They Fit: FedEx is the best choice, given that they are headquartered in Memphis, but the Grizzlies currently play at the FedExForum. The only way to make this right for the team and the international courier delivery service is to send a message to their friends north of the border. The Grizzlies started out as an expansion team in Vancouver back in 1995. What company, based in Vancouver, might be a good fit? Why, Lululemon Athletica, of course! Their international brand lines up well with the Grizzlies’ Spanish star Marc Gasol, and the partnership could lead to yoga pants becoming the new Zubaz for NBA fans.
Sponsorship: Banana Boat
Why They Fit: This would be a good time for me to confess that I am a Heat fan through and through, born and raised in the county of Wade. However, that won’t stop me from making the right call here. Yes, owner Micky Arison is the chairman of Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise operator. But the only aquatic vessel Heat fans care about is that damn banana boat that Dwyane Wade, Gabrielle Union, Chris Paul and LeBron James were caught riding on in the middle of the Bahamas last summer. Oh yeah, and Banana Boat sunscreen protects you from the sun’s heat. (Facepalm.)
Sponsorship: Oikos Greek Yogurt (via Dannon)
Why They Fit: Budding star Giannis Antetokounmpo is the “Greek Freak.” Oikos Yogurt is a greek treat. Opa!
Why They Fit: Target would be a great homegrown choice, but the T-Wolves currently play at the Target Center. Another local company is Xcel Energy–which could tie in with the team’s young, promising roster. After some thought, though, Advil makes the most sense. The matching shade of blue is one thing, but the real key here is a product that can directly help fans deal with the major headaches associated with the Timberwolves passing on Steph Curry…twice.
New Orleans Pelicans
Sponsorship: Young Money Entertainment
Why They Fit: The Pelicans play at the Smoothie King Center (no conflict). Cosmetic companies with eyebrow-related products are an obvious choice, given the Pelicans’ long-term commitment to Anthony Davis. But when it comes to local corporations, one name sticks out among the rest: Cash Money Records, the rap label originally known for the likes of Juvenile and Birdman and more recently for Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Drake. The latter group falls under the subsidiary Young Money Entertainment. There’s some “beef” going down between the two labels, so let’s just go with the one that has stronger basketball ties. Lil Wayne could be to the Pelicans what Drake is to the Raptors. Plus, at 23 years old and fresh off of signing a five-year, $145 million contract, Anthony Davis is the true embodiment of the words “young” and “money.”
New York Knicks
Why They Fit: Phil Jackson is the “Zen Master,” and while a Dharmachakra (the eight-spoked symbol for Buddhism) would look interesting on a Knicks jersey, this franchise goes far beyond one person. Besides, the *real* name in the lights these days is rookie Kristaps Porzingis. You wanna ride that Latvian train and keep the hostile fan base pleased, especially this kid? Throw the old school Nickelodeon logo on the jerseys! The orange matches beautifully, and we already know it will work. The Charlotte Hornets held a “Nick Night” earlier this season, complete with host Kel Mitchell, a “Double Dare” obstacle course, dancing Rugrats, and SLIME. Think about it, Knicks fans, this could be you…EVERY NIGHT.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Sponsorship: Sonic Drive-In
Why They Fit: If it were up to me, we’d swap the whole uniform out with the OG green and yellow Supersonics masterpiece (#IStandWithSeattle). Then, as I was researching companies based in Oklahoma City, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Sonic! That good ol’ American drive-in fast food chain. Let’s all agree to do the right thing here…
Sponsorship: The Walt Disney Company
Why They Fit: I’m from Florida, and at a very early age I learned that “Orlando” and “Disney” are pretty much synonymous. Disney tried their hand at a sports team once before with the Anaheim Ducks (“Mighty Ducks,” never forget), and Aaron Gordon took a cue from Disney earlier this season by making us all feel like kids again at the Slam Dunk Contest.
Why They Fit: The Sixers play at the Wells Fargo Center (no conflict). The news that Will Smith was the new majority owner turned out to be an April Fools’ joke, so that’s a no-go on a sponsorship from his Overbrook Entertainment. Instead, we go with Comcast, the mass media company and internet service provider based out of Philadelphia. Like with Comcast, 76ers fans keep paying for poor performance that shows no signs of improving and feel like they have no choice but to stick with it.
Why They Fit: The Suns play at Talking Stick Resort Arena, which is both my favorite name of the bunch and, I’m guessing, the least likely to cause any conflicts with potential sponsors. U-Haul is based in Phoenix and already shares the white/orange/black color scheme. The Suns, like U-Haul, have become known for moving and storage–trading players away and keeping others on their roster longer than they should.
Portland Trail Blazers
Sponsorship: Columbia Sportswear
Why They Fit: The Trail Blazers play at the Moda Center (Moda is a health insurance company based in Portland). Crap! I have so many health insurance companies I’ve been dying to use. I guess they’ll have to wait. Columbia Sportswear is also based in Portland, and I can hear the commercial tie-ins now: “At Columbia, our outerwear is tested tough. It won’t be ‘Rip City’ when you’re out Blazing the Trail…in PORTLAND!!!”
Sponsorship: Taco Bell
Why They Fit: The Kings play at Sleep Train Arena, my new favorite venue (sorry, Talking Stick Resort). The team’s owner, Vivek Ranadivé, is the former founder and CEO of TIBCO, a multimillion-dollar computing company, and I think one of those is enough for one league. The real guy we’re looking for is all-time great Vlade Divac, who is currently the team’s general manager and vice president of basketball operations. More importantly, he appeared in this national spot for Taco Bell with Darryl Dawkins. I think we’re done here.
San Antonio Spurs
Why They Fit: I could have gone with HoltCAT because of Spurs’ owner Peter Holt. I could have gone with a number of San Antonio-based companies like Whataburger, Valero Energy, or USAA. Instead, I went with Visionworks–because the Spurs are the oldest fucking team in the NBA and, as I previously mentioned, I’m a Heat fan. Hey, we’ll always have this.
Sponsorship: OVO Sound
Why They Fit: As I mentioned with the New Orleans Pelicans, this is the blueprint Lil Wayne can follow. Drake is currently the team’s “global ambassador” and has helped them with re-branding, including an alternate black and gold jersey modeled after his OVO label. Why stop at the small logo, Drizzy? It’s only a matter of time before we meet the Eastern Conference’s newest team: the Toronto Golden Owls.
Sponsorship: Crown Burgers
Why They Fit: I learned that the Utah Jazz play at the Vivint Smart Home Arena…and that the Utah Jazz still play in the NBA. I kid! They’re an easy target, and for that reason I chose not to go with the obvious Mormon sponsorship (despite the fact that the team’s late owner Larry H. Miller actually was a Mormon AND that you could tell me Gordon Hayward played Elder Price in one of the “Book of Mormon”’s national touring companies and I would totally believe you). In all fairness, the Utah Jazz are rebuilding, growing, and matter most to the people of Salt Lake City. That’s why they get their very own local fast food chain, Crown Burgers, as their corporate sponsor. In 2010, Crown Burgers was named the official “Best Burgers of Utah,” and I hereby declare the Utah Jazz as the official “Best Basketball Team…of Utah!”
Why They Fit: Team owner Ted Leonsis is the vice chairman emeritus at AOL. I wanted to throw that old school, eye-triangle thing on a Wizards jersey so bad…but, turns out, AOL was purchased by Verizon in 2015 and Washington plays at the Verizon Center. Fannie Mae and Marriott were viable options, but this Wizards team is young and exciting. Enter Netflix. Not only does their logo blend seamlessly with the red bar at the top of the jerseys, Netflix also has the ability to do with the Wizards what it did with Washington through “House of Cards”: make it interesting, thrilling–and something people want to spend countless hours watching in their underwear. Just me? Ok.
Eddie Mujica is an actor, writer, and 3-point shooter. He is an alum of The Second City in Chicago and currently lives in Los Angeles. He spends way too much time on Photoshop. Follow him @mooheekah.