"Years in coming," advertisements will begin appearing on NBA jerseys as early as the fall of 2013. The NBA Board of Governors hasn't taken an official vote on the matter, but according to deputy commissioner Adam Silver, not a single owner is against it.
"I think it's likely that we'll do something, implement something, some sort of plan for the fall," Silver said. "I think it's fair to say that our teams were excited about the opportunity and think there is potentially a big opportunity in the marketplace to put a two-by-two patch on the shoulder of our jerseys."
The ad would take the form of a two-inch-by-two-inch patch on the shoulder of jerseys. Each team will partner with its own sponsor, and the ad will appear not only in-game, but also on replica jerseys sold in stores. All in all, Silver thinks NBA teams could generate $100 million by selling 30 patch sponsors each season. (This sounds optimistic as Premier League teams took in about $184 million last season, and their corporate logos cover the entire front of the shirt. It's hard to imagine the NBA getting more than half that figure for four square inches.)
Interesting that there's not a huge outcry about the sanctity of the uniform. The Big Four sports have always treated jersey advertisements as anathema—even in a landscape with sponsored replays, commercials crammed into every available second, computer-generated ads projected on the end boards, sponsored All-Star games, sponsored arenas, etc. Ads on apparel haven't killed golf, or the WNBA, or MLS, and they define NASCAR. American sports don't have time for self-imposed chastity when there's money to be made. A small patch is an inoffensive way to break our advertising cherry, and it's a matter of time before the same thing spreads to the NFL and NHL. (Baseball purists will die before it happens there.) Eventually the patches will get bigger, and bigger, until the span the entire front of jerseys. And that day, American sports will have caught up with the rest of the world.