NBA moves toward ads on uniforms


Ronald McDonald might soon join Jerry West's silhouette on the front of NBA player jerseys.

The league is considering a proposal that would let teams sell jersey sponsorships consisting of small patches, 2½ inches square, on the left shoulder where the NBA logo containing West's image is now placed. The NBA said such sponsorships could generate about $100 million annually for the league and its players.

While no vote was taken Thursday at the Board of Governors meeting at Encore, the proposal has widespread support and could be voted on in September. If approved, the patches would appear on jerseys to begin the 2013-14 season.

"My sense is that every team is in favor of doing this in some form," said deputy commissioner Adam Silver, who is overseeing the matter for the NBA.

Commissioner David Stern said the league rebounded nicely from last fall's lockout, which postponed the start of the season until Christmas. Additional sponsorship revenue would add to the value of all 30 franchises.

"We had a very happy group of owners in the room," Stern said. "We are going to have our best year ever, both in gate and sponsorship in this coming year.

"From a perspective of collective bargaining and revenue sharing and the general happiness of our fans with the performance of our players, this is a very good thing. Because the higher the revenue goes, the higher our players' percentage - the higher 50 percent is. And to the extent there are owners looking to buy teams, spend money to market and promote them, etc., that's good for the league and for the players."

Stern said he has enjoyed the first free-agency period of the new collective bargaining agreement.

"With all of the frenzy, which I've seen it said - it's crazy, it's this, it's that, it's devilish - but it's very exciting," Stern said. "And it's in a context where the players are going to come out with 50 percent of the basketball-related income as opposed to 57 percent. So there's been an improvement for the owners.

"We have managed to reduce the exposure to long-term contracts by reducing to four years the length of a contract that a team can give to someone else's free agent and five that you can give your own. That's a very, very important development."

The league also approved expanding the use of instant replay on all flagrant fouls, calls made when a defender is in the restricted area, and the accuracy of goaltending calls in the final two minutes of regulation and overtime.

What was not discussed is the continued use of NBA players in the Olympics. Stern has supported limiting players to age 23 and under, an idea that Team USA member Kobe Bryant called "stupid."

"I don't have a position," Stern said. "I said that after 20 years it's time for the owners to think about what other options there might be. ... I said one option is what soccer does, which is 23 and under.

"There are other options as well. So based on that, I think Kobe is right. Maybe it is a stupid idea and soccer is stupid. But we should see how it works out. But I would never argue with Kobe."

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

 

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