Earlier this week the NBA Board of Governors held their annual summer meeting to discuss the state of the association, debate possible rule changes, and bask in the glory of being full-fledged 1%ers. Big Daddy D (which is how Dan Gilbert has David Stern stored in his iPhone) offered the following quote to reporters at the conclusion of the meeting:
"We had a happy group of owners, our ratings are up 28 percent over the last decade, while television ratings are down around 30 percent the last decade. We are going to have our best year ever, both in gate and sponsorship this coming year."
(Doesn’t that quote seem way too redundant for a man of Stern’s/Daddy D’s professional and academic accolades?)
Well how do you like them apples? Remember, oh like, less than a year ago, when all we heard about was how little the NBA owners were actually grossing? Whatever. Hope you enjoyed Vegas, Assholes.
The major in-game changes made primarily had to do with increased instant replay in the final 2 minutes and overtime – specifically checking on goaltend/block calls. I mean, sure. Calling a clean block or a goaltend can have a huge effect on the way a game plays out. Determining the arc of a shot is an incredibly difficult task. It’s a split-second judgment call, ultimately coming down to the official’s best guess, which is why the issue was brought up for discussion. However, doesn’t a block/charge call have the same profound effect on momentum and ultimately how the game ends? Isn’t that call just as much the officials’ best guess as a goaltend? What kind of precedent are we setting here?
Instant replay was also expanded allowing officials to determine the severity of flagrant fouls. They briefly discussed flopping, but seeing as it’s not a pressing issue, decided to table it and get back to their bottle service at Tao.
Which brings us to the most polarizing decision that was made: Starting next year (or actually, right now) NBA jerseys will proudly feature advertisements in the form of sewn on patches. The estimated revenue from the advertisements, which includes both the jerseys worn by players as well as those sold to fans, is 100 million dollars.
David Stern has lied about many a thing during his tyrannical reign over the National Basketball Association but the one promise that he has remained steadfast to was his dedication to exploring alternative ways to generate new revenue. You think you’re Kobe’s biggest fan? Oh, really? Well, do you even own an authentic 2012-2013 gold and purple Lakers home jersey complete with Adidas and Del Taco patches? I DIDN’T THINK SO.
I wanted to give myself at least 24 hours before writing this article to the let the concept marinate. My initial visceral reaction was one of utter disgust that resulted in numerous 4-letter-words, swearing off the NBA for good, and googling images of the Phoenix Lifelock.
The most upsetting part of this whole situation was the inevitability of it all. Anyone with any knowledge of how professional sports work in 2012 should have seen this coming. Professional soccer jerseys, NASCAR cars (is that right?), and WNBA jerseys already feature much larger and more blatant ads on them and they seem to have gotten away with it without any major complaint from the fans. It was only a matter of time. I wish I would have seen that Morgan Spurlock documentary, “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” because I’m sure there was at least one badass quote that would’ve worked perfectly in this paragraph. Oh well.
The NBA is a business, and the goal of any business is to grow. Allowing advertisers to put small patches on jerseys seems harmless enough and is going to bring in a ton of extra cash for not much extra work. It really just makes sense. The problem arises because we as fans foolishly try and trick ourselves into thinking that following sports is a getaway from “real life” and “business.” When we tune in to ABC for a primetime Sunday marquee matchup we’re not just watching the best athletes compete for our viewing and blogging pleasure; we’re watching men hard at work earning a living. Seriously. Next time you forget that; pinch yourself.
And guess what? This isn’t going to stop. This is the first step in a trend that eventually will lead to much bigger and broader advertisements and sponsorships. Know why? Because David Stern knows two things for sure: More advertisements lead to more money, and no matter what he does to the jerseys - his fan base isn’t going anywhere.
I’m sorry for going all Gordon Gekko on you. I really hate what’s happening, and what’s bound to happen in the not-so-distant future, but honestly…what choice do we have?