The advertisements will begin in 2017 because that is when the NBA’s apparel deal with Nike begins. Through the end of next season, the league will wear apparel produced by Adidas.
“This is part of building the league,” Silver said at a news conference in midtown Manhattan. “I think if you look at the progression of the league over the years, there has been many sponsorship opportunities that we’ve added, and they’ve been met initially with mixed reviews, and I’d say over time that as we generate more money and invest more money back into the game, improving the game, improving our marketing, improving and growing the footprint of the game, I think the results will be positive.”
The ads will be 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches and will be displayed on the right side of the chest of the jerseys, while the Nike swoosh will be featured on the left side for 29 of the 30 NBA teams. The other team, the Charlotte Hornets, will likely feature the Jordan Brand logo, because the team’s owner, Michael Jordan, owns that brand.
Silver said that the advertisements could bring in an estimated $100 million in revenue to the league, but that there was uncertainty about how the process would play out.
“This is a bit of an experiment,” he said. “In fact, we’re calling it a pilot program with our teams, and we’re saying that teams have the ability to do deals up to three years beginning in 2017-18 season.
“Part of the reason we wanted to do that is that as always, I’m sure there will be unintended consequences here. We don’t know how exactly it’ll impact the larger marketplace, and we don’t know how much money it’ll generate, and so we want an opportunity to look at all of that information once they begin selling.”
MLS teams have had ads on their jerseys since 2007. The WNBA approved ads for its players’ jerseys in 2011.
Silver also addressed the ongoing debate around North Carolina’s passing of a discriminatory law against gay, lesbian and transgender communities last month. The league put out a statement at the time speaking out against the law, and saying it could impact Charlotte’s ability to host next year’s All-Star Game.
When the topic came up Friday, Silver said the law was “problematic” for the league, but that at this time no decision had been made as to whether the game would be moved.
“The law as it now stands in North Carolina is problematic for the league,” Silver said. “What the view in the room [among the owners] was, [was that] we should be working toward change in North Carolina.
“The league believes that these groups need to be protected. But again, I think the right way to work to the proper resolution here is for the league to remain engaged in the conversation rather than setting ultimatums or announcing we’re not going to play our All-Star Game in Charlotte.”
The league also remains in negotiations with the National Basketball Players Association about the league’s collective bargaining agreement. Both sides have the ability to opt out of the document in December, and if they do without coming to a new agreement a lockout would begin on July 1, 2017.
Silver, however, said that he remains optimistic the discussions will lead to a resolution without reaching that point.
“The status is that we have ongoing discussions with both the executive committee of the players’ association and the staff, and from our standpoint, those discussions have been constructive, and I remain optimistic.
“I think, as I said, the league is in great shape. I believe that that’s how the players see things, as well. I think we all understand what’s at stake when it comes to collective bargaining, and there seems to be a real commitment in the room, when we’ve sat across from the union officials and their executive board, that we all should just bear down, work behind closed doors and do whatever is necessary to ensure that ultimately we of course miss no games but that there’s no disruption whatsoever in our season.”