Brady’s Banter: Sponsors threaten integrity of the NBA

Brady McGee, Reporter

Uniforms have been a staple of professional sports for over a century. The Cincinnati Red Stockings were the first team to popularize the use of specific colors to identify the team. It began as just stocking (socks) colors for each baseball team; it eventually morphed into a trademark of leagues around the world. Now, one of the most popular leagues in the world is turning to the dark side and allowing teams to place advertisements on their uniforms.

The Philadelphia 76ers, of the NBA, became the first team to announce their jersey advertisement, partnering with StubHub. The announcement came in May 2017, leading to a downpour of teams publicizing their partnerships.

At this point, 14 teams are currently playing with ads on their uniforms including the 76ers. Here’s a full list of teams and their sponsor for this year:

  • Philadelphia 76ers and StubHub
  • Cleveland Cavaliers and Goodyear
  • Brooklyn Nets and Infor
  • Boston Celtics and GE
  • Orlando Magic and Disney
  • Utah Jazz and 5 for the Fight
  • Toronto Raptors and Sun Life
  • Milwaukee Bucks and Harley Davidson
  • Minnesota Timberwolves and Fitbit
  • Sacramento Kings and Blue Diamond Almonds
  • Detroit Pistons and Flagstar Bank
  • Denver Nuggets and Western Union Bank
  • Golden State Warriors and Rakuten
  • New Orleans Pelicans and Zatarains


The ads will only take up a 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches space on the left side of the jersey and will come in the form of a patch. That’s not too bad, right? Soccer clubs all around the world have been doing it since the 1950s. Racecar drivers decorate their cars in ads, although that isn’t a team sport.

The difference with the NBA and all other American leagues for that matter, is that so many iconic players have worn (and iconic moments have happened) in ad-less jerseys that it wouldn’t be the same imagining them with a patch on the left shoulder.

One of the greatest rivalries in sports is the Boston Celtics vs the Los Angeles Lakers; it’s a feud that’s spanned decades. My grandparents watched Bill Russell and his legendary Celtics team battle Wilt Chamberlin and Jerry West, my parents watched Larry Bird and Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson duel for the title of best player and best team, and I was fortunate enough to witness the rebirth of the rivalry when Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen competed with 2008 MVP Kobe Bryant in back-to-back Finals.

The thing that connects all these historic teams is the jerseys they wore. Little has been changed about the classic Celtic green and Laker gold over the past 60 years.

With a young core led by rookie Lonzo Ball for the Lakers and the superstar addition of Kyrie Irving for the Celtics, both teams could be meeting in the Finals again in the distant future. It would just be a shame if, when they did meet, those classic jerseys were tainted by a sponsor patch that has nothing to do with the teams besides the fact that the company paid a gross amount of money (Rakuten, the Warriors sponsor, is paying $20 million per year over a three year span).

Ad patches wouldn’t just affect our memories of iconic moments, they would affect collectors. As an avid jersey collector, I have a lot of throwback NBA jerseys from some of my favorite teams and players in history. In 20 years, if a kid like me wants to start collecting, they would be sifting through jerseys with sponsor patches on them for companies that might not even exist anymore.

I understand the reasoning behind it, the reason behind most things: money. The ad revenue will boost every team’s salary cap, allowing them to throw more money at players in hopes of signing them. It isn’t like some players are getting paid hundreds of millions to play a game. Oh wait, yes they are.

At a certain point, teams have to have some integrity and realize American sports uniforms are a sign of unity for their fan base; they bring people together. They’re not about making finding more ways to make money.