Everybody knows it’s not a matter of if, but when, the NBA decides to put ads on jerseys. According to a report from ESPN, that when could be soon: the 2017-18 season, when the NBA’s new jersey deal with Nike kicks in.
The NBA sent a memo about ads on jerseys to owners in advance of the owners meeting during All-Star Weekend, according to Brian Windhorst and Darren Rovell. The NBA proposes that each team would be able to sell a 2.5" x 2.5" logo on the upper left shoulder of their jersey, with 50% of the proceeds being kept by the team, and 50% going into a common pool shared by all teams to dilute the advantage of larger markets. All of the money would be considered Basketball Related Income, so the players would get their cut.
The two biggest hang-ups to this proposal becoming reality are the TV networks and the players. ESPN and TNT paid $24 billion to continue broadcasting the NBA, and want a cut of jersey ad money if their high-def cameras are going to be capturing more ads hundreds of times a game. As for the players, there might be issues with, say, a player sponsored by Gillette wearing a Schick patch on his jersey every game.