Silver plays down controversy surrounding NBA jersey sponsors

National Basketball Association (NBA) commissioner Adam Silver has stated that sponsor logos on jerseys “will be less controversial than people are making out” when they are introduced.

The NBA and other professional US sports leagues including the National Football League and Major League Baseball have resisted commercialising the product to the extent of introducing jersey sponsors, something commonplace in other major sports leagues across the world.

“I believe it will happen in the NBA one day,” Silver told SportBusiness International in an exclusive interview. “I travel a fair amount and I see lots of European soccer like the English Premier League, La Liga and Bundesliga – and games are increasingly televised in the United States – it's so commonplace outside the United States that it's inevitable it will come to the league.”

Silver has previously said jersey sponsorship will be introduced in the NBA within the next five years. “In this day and age advertisers are increasingly finding limited opportunities to express themselves outside of live sport because people are watching coverage on a tape-delayed basis,” he added. “(Jersey sponsorship) would give our marketing partners an opportunity to get that much closer to the game and our players, and truly integrate their brands into our fans and teams.

“I think when it does come, it will be less controversial than people are making out. One of the hallmarks of (former NBA commissioner) David Stern's long tenure, and something I've learned from him, is to always be open-minded and play close attention to what others are doing. Jersey sponsorship is the perfect example.”

The full SportBusiness International interview with Adam Silver can be accessed here.