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Archive for the ‘NBA’ Category

ESPN will help NBA avoid a lockout

Posted by ZA on January 17, 2011

A good article in Ad Age by sports marketing guru, Rich Thomaselli, about the effects of an NBA lockout.  The article details who has the most to lose if the NBA does have a lockout next season.  There is $1 billion worth of television ad revenue at stake, much of that coming from ESPN.  One of the best points in the article is about how ESPN & Turner will fill open time slots in their TV schedules, if there is a lockout.  Thomaselli points out that ESPN doesn’t have NHL programming to fill open spots like they did during the NBA lockout in 1999.

That surely has got ESPN execs in Bristol nervous about the possibility of this lockout happening.  I mean it’s one thing for them to fill their Monday Night Football time slot if the NFL has a lockout, that is one night a week.  It would be something much greater for ESPN to have to find quality programming to fill multiple days of their week in place of their NBA broadcasts.  ABC would be scrambling as well to fill in holes, which would be especially painful since they just recorded their highest ratings ever for their Christmas Day NBA broadcasts.

So what happens to avert an NBA lockout?  I think the folks at the Worldwide Leader get involved to help negotiations. They will of course say they play no role in league versus labor issues, but they do.  ESPN is a brand maker, they can take a player and make him rich just by giving him the exposure that “Madison Avenue” craves.  So you better believe that ESPN has the ear of the players and their agents.  ESPN also works with the league to set the broadcast schedules and each owner knows the more his team is on TV the higher the value of his franchise climbs.  So in the end, I think ESPN helps the NBA to keep playing without a lockout.

If you are ESPN, it’s good to be the king.

Posted in ESPN, NBA, Sports Television | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

What’s wrong with this picture? LeBron

Posted by ZA on July 9, 2010

Why is LeBron James the only one in the photo who isn’t smiling? I know that image has been photoshopped, but its ironic that they pictured the smiling Dwayne Wade and grinning Chris Bosh next to a sullen looking LeBron because I think King James really is unhappy.  I think this entire free agency process, James decision to leave Cleveland and now the backlash are weighing heavily on LeBron’s shoulders.

I think LeBron is probably second guessing a lot of the decisions he’s made lately.  James isn’t going to change his mind on playing in Miami, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he would like a mulligan.  LeBron clearly never expected this decision would make him a villain, something that I think is eating away at LeBron inside.  He was clearly anxious last night at having to deliver such a tough message (bye bye Cleveland) on national television, but I expected King James to lighten up after announcing his decision.  James never did lighten up and instead seemed distracted and upset.  There was a lot going on, but I think LeBron realized for the first time yesterday that this transition is going to change who the public’s opinion of him.  He’s always been Lovable LeBron and now he’s the guy that NBA fans are going to root against.  And he can’t even “go home” because he’s now public enemy #1 in Ohio.

What should LeBron have done?
* Stayed in Cleveland to try to win a Championship.  Or go to New York City and revive that franchise by winning a Championship.  I thought the competitor in James would drive him to beat guys like DWade and Bosh, not team up with them.

* Met with the Cleveland ownership face-to-face to thank them and tell them that he was leaving.  I would hope that if James didn’t have sense to do that, at least one of his well paid agents would have made sure that happened.  My opinion of Maverick Carter could not be lower after watching how he’s handled the last few weeks of LeBron’s free agency circus.

* Not schedule a one-hour television special to announce his decision to the world.  There is a reason PR people exist in this world and this was the perfect time to use one.  Don’t play the “I’m bigger than everyone else” game by going on live TV to tell them where you are going to make your next $100 million.  Write a $1 million to charity (anonymously), met with Cleveland ownership, call other teams to deliver the news, turn over a statement to a publicity to release and then hop on your private jet for a vacation.

I think much of this will blow over in a few weeks and LeBron will be happy with his decision.  And I do think that James and company will win rings in Miami, but I don’t think this trio will last long-term in Miami.  James is 25 & DWade is 28; in 3-4 years the Miami Heat might have to make a decision who they want to resign.  I think they’ll choose LeBron due to age which will cause a rift that sends Wade packing for Chicago (his hometown, where he is still welcome).  LeBron might idle in Miami a couple of more seasons, but then eventually I think LeBron finishes his career in New York (Knicks or Brooklyn Nets).

Posted in Athletes, NBA | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

LeBron’s brand is on the line with his NBA decision

Posted by ZA on July 2, 2010

Now is the time for LeBron James.  This is one of those moments that will shape his legacy.  It won’t be “the moment” which will presumably happen the next time(s) he is playing for an NBA Championship.  But his decision this Summer on free agency will set the path for the next stage of his basketball career.  Will King James stay in Cleveland?  Will LeBron jump to the Bulls, Clippers, Heat, Knicks, Nets or other?  No one knows right now, probably not even LeBron.  So for now we are all witnesses to LeBron’s free agency frenzy.

One key aspect of LeBron’s decision that I feel deserves more attention is: how will LeBron’s decision shape his public image?  LeBron is not just a basketball superstar, he is a global brand.  So he, and his team, have to think bigger than basketball in this decision.  They need to think about which option will give him the best chance to win on the court, but they also need to consider what will help promote his brand and how the public will react to his decision.

I think Michael Rosenberg nails the public perception part of this decision in his CNNSI commentary.  Rosenberg’s comparison of LeBron’s decision to those of other sports superstars Shaq and A-Rod is quite shrewd.  Alex Rodriguez went to New York and won a ring, but the public will always see these Yankees teams as Derek Jeter’s team.  If LeBron goes to Miami to play with Dwayne Wade, then he becomes A-Rod to Wade as Jeter.  Rosenberg goes on to detail why James going to Chicago would cause similar issues for how he’s viewed by sports fans.  Rosenberg basically concludes that the best option for LeBron’s brand image is to stay in Cleveland and win.  I agree, and think this is a must read article.

Posted in NBA | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

John Wall signs $25 million deal with Reebok

Posted by ZA on June 10, 2010

John Wall, the University of Kentucky standout, who is likely to be the #1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft has signed an endorsement deal with Reebok.  The endorsement deal is reported to be a 5-year deal worth approximately $25 million dollars ($5 mil per year).  The deal reported includes two signature shoes that will be designed by Reebok for the young basketball star.

This deal by Reebok is a huge step up from what recent draft picks have received from shoe endorsement deals.  It signals that Reebok plans to make John Wall the centerpiece of their basketball marketing efforts.  In 2009, the top NBA Draft pick, Blake Griffin signed a reported $400,000 per year annual deal with Nike.  In 2008, Chicago Bulls top pick Derrick Rose signed with Adidas (who owns Reebok) for an undisclosed sum that was likely in the $1+ million per season range.  Which means the last deal for a top pick that was on par with Wall’s deal was the $8+ million per year deal that 2008 #2 pick Kevin Durant signed with Nike.

The deal that Durant signed with Nike in ’08 was much larger than the deal that #1 pick Greg Oden received from Nike.  Nike has made Durant one of their top endorsement stars over the past few years, which is a pattern that Reebok is sure to repeat with John Wall.  Reebok’s other top NBA endorsement stars include Allen Iverson, Yao Ming & others.

[Assist: Sports Business Daily]

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, College Basketball, Endorsement Deals, NBA, Sports Marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Magic Johnson & Larry Bird documentary on HBO

Posted by ZA on March 5, 2010

Tomorrow night HBO will debut their new documentary, “Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals”.  The documentary will focus on two NBA superstars, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, who had similar upbringings which led to them being linked together on the court.  The former Lakers star and Celtics star have been linked together in a few projects in recent years, including a book by author Jackie MacMullan called When the Game Was Ours.

HBO generally does a good job with their sports documentaries, so “A Courtship of Rivals” should be worth watching. I know I’ll tune in.

Posted in NBA, Sports Television | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Andrew Bogut creating a fan frenzy in Milwaukee

Posted by ZA on December 6, 2009

Great article on Fanhouse about how Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut is using his own money to help improve the atmosphere at Bucks home games.  Bogut is spending $100,000 of his own bucks to pay for rowdy Bucks fans to attend Milwaukee home games for free.  This Squad 6 is a great idea and something I hope catches on across all sports.  I talked to someone at the NBA league office who said this type of program is one that they have been working on.  Sounds as if they would like to see this of type of program at more teams.

The article alludes to the group of rowdy fans in Houston that are there to support the Rockets.  I was at a Rockets versus Spurs game last week and saw these guys & gals in the stands.  I remember at the time thinking how unique (and crazy) those Rockets fans looked at a basketball game.  They looked like they got lost on the way to a soccer game and stumbled into the Toyota Center to support the Rockets instead.  But they were great fans and made a difference in the game.  So congrats to them as well for inspiring Squad 6 and hopefully starting a trend.

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Do you want a free NBA jersey?

Posted by ZA on November 18, 2009

How can you get a cheap or free NBA jersey?

You can get an Allen Iverson Memphis Grizzlies jersey for 1/2 price, maybe even free if the Grizzlies gives away 3,000 at a game next month.  Memphis decision to release Iverson leaves them with a lot of extra inventory from his short stay.  At this point it’s probably better for Memphis to pack up the extra jerseys and send them to Africa as giveaway items, rather than try to sell them.  Because it’s just another reminder to Grizzlies fans (if there are any) of the many missteps their front office has made.

[Assist: Sports Business Journal]

Posted in NBA, Sports Marketing | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Portland Trailblazers use marquee opponents to sell tickets

Posted by ZA on November 2, 2009

Interesting that the Portland Trailblazers are using their marquee opponents to sell single game tickets.  On the tickets page of their official team website, the Trailblazers have a section on Upcoming Home Games.  In it they say, “Can’t wait to see guys like Lebron, Shaw, D-Wade and Kobe when they come to town…”  Directly above it they have a photo of Lebron James and Dwayne Wade (see image below).

There is nothing wrong with Portland promoting their opponents to sell more tickets, many teams have used this same technique.  The New Jersey Nets are giving their fans jerseys of the star player on the opposing team.   And there are certainly more people in Oregon who want to see a Blazers game against global icon James, so promoting a name like Lebron creates more awareness.  But I’m surprised a team as good as Portland, with such strong fan support, would want to  promote an opponent just to sell more tickets.

The story that Portland’s marketing department needs to tell is about their own young, exciting, talented squad.  They need to be connecting the fans in Portland with the players on the Trailblazers.  This is no longer the “Jailblazers”; this Portland squad has marketable young stars in Brandon Roy, Lamarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden.  The Portland front office needs their fans to know that Rudy Fernandez’s favorite food is paella and that Jerryd Bayless was born the same year that Bull Durham hit movie theaters (1988).

These days there is no shame for a professional sports team doing whatever it takes to sell more tickets.  The bottom line for most of the teams and leagues is that attendance figures are what they are judged on.  But I hope the Portland Trailblazers don’t overlook their own great story.  More long-term success will come from promoting their own team.

Portland Trailblazers ticket offer

Portland Trailblazers ticket offer

Posted in Attendance Figures, NBA | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Will the NBA learn crisis management from MLB?

Posted by ZA on October 29, 2009

The steroid era in Major League Baseball has forever tainted the game.  Most fans cannot watch an MLB game without wondering who is using performance enhancing drugs.  Some of the best players in the game have been linked to PEDs; Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi and Manny Ramirez.  And baseball’s biggest stars in this era have had the steroid rumors swirl around them, including; Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.  What has MLB done to help this situation?  What has the commissioner done to restore confidence that his players are clean?  Not much.  It seems their official stance is similar to AIG’s; just shut up and hope all of the negative attention goes away.

Now it is the NBA’s turn to defend itself against the rumors that their league is tainted.  These rumors come from a familiar source, former NBA referee Tim Donaghy.  In his new book, Blowing the Whistle, Donaghy tells tales of the NBA refs working on behalf of the league to make games close.  He asserts that he and fellow refs would make side bets that affected how they called the game.  Worse he says that the league would instruct their officials to assist certain teams when a certain team winning was important to the league (sorry Sacramento Kings fans).  Donaghy says a lot of damning stuff in the book; here are some more excerpts posted by Deadspin.

If any of the allegations by Donaghy are true, then the NBA has a huge problem they need to correct.  The question now is how seriously will NBA Commissioner David Stern take these assertions from Donaghy?  Will the league investigate further to see if these stories are true?  Will they address this head-on or just hide and hope it goes away?  A conspiracy theorist might already wonder if the league is punishing their referees by locking them out and using replacement refs to start the 2009-2010 season.  Maybe there is more going on there than the two sides not being able to come to an agreement on a deal.

Back to reality, the NBA has to handle this situation carefully in my opinion.  They don’t want to overreact because there is no proof any of the allegations are true.  Remember that Donaghy is a convicted felon, who ratted out the mobsters he was helping to gamble on games and that Tim is likely broke.  Which are all reasons he might not be the most reliable source and could very easily have embellished details in his book to make some extra cash.

But that’s a dangerous game of chicken to play if the NBA is going to simply say that Donaghy is a liar and not look into this matter further.  Because it would take very little for this situation to escalate.  What would it take to corroborate the stories told by Donaghy in his book?  Just one other referee or player to step forward and validate Donaghy’s stories; then the NBA would have a sh*tstorm of negative media.  This is likely what keeps David Stern up at night; someone coming forward to validate the claims of the NBA’s disgraced former referee.

If I’m Commissioner Stern, I would get on top of this situation now and find out if any of this is true.  That would allow them to quickly correct any wrongdoing they discover and refute anything they find out is not true.  If there is any wrongdoing by the league office or their refs, then they need to apologize to the fans and insure this never happens again.  People will still love the NBA and they’ll respect the game more if they know it’s clean.


Posted in MLB, NBA | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Izod Center naming rights deal going up in smoke

Posted by ZA on October 22, 2009

In 2007 the New Jersey Devils and Seton Hall Pirates announced they would be moving their home games to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.  The Devils and Pirates were both leaving the Continental Airlines Arena, which had been their home venue for nearly 20 years.  That move had a domino effect which is still being felt today.

Continental Airlines subsequently backed out of their $1.3 million dollar annual contract for the naming rights the Meadowlands Arena; which had been called Continental Airlines Arena since 1995.  The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority then went out to get bids from companies who wanted to put their name on the building.  They received a few offers and finally settled on a deal with Izod at $1.4 million per year.  The new name of the arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey would be the Izod Center.

The Izod Center has been the home venue for the NBA’s New Jersey Nets, as well as, a host of concerts and events for the past two seasons.  But it appears now that could all come to an end.  The Nets have been made plans to move their franchise to Brooklyn to play at the Barclays Center; a move that should happen in 2011.  Which in theory would give the Izod Center a permanent resident for at least two more years, which would cover most of the three year’s left on the naming rights deal.  But now the Nets are considering moving their home games to Prudential Center, which would leave the Izod Center devoid a full-time tenant.

What does this loss mean to Izod’s naming rights deal? It means Izod would no longer get the millions of mentions that come from having a professional sports franchise playing in your building (mentions on Sportscenter and in every newspaper that prints a story on the Nets game).  It means that there would be approximately 800,000 fewer people attending events the arena bearing their name, because the 40 Nets home games are eliminated.  In-short, it would mean a huge decrease in the exposure the deal originally was set to provide.  On the plus side, Izod could save some money because the annual payment on the deal drops to $750k if the Nets are no longer the tenant.  But does a reduced cost really offset all that Izod loses in exposure on the deal?  No, Izod would be left with an aging venue sitting nearly empty next to the New Jersey interstate.  Izod will be the naming rights partner for an arena that is dying.  That is not exactly the kind of deal you want your brand associated with; Izod should look to get out of this deal if the Nets leave.

Posted in NBA, Venue Information, Venue Naming Rights | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »