Corporate logos to adorn NBA jerseys

It was — and is — bad enough when the Mayo Clinic Lynx became the first major sports team in this area to plaster advertising on their uniforms. They did so four years ago with good reason; the WNBA is still a struggling league.

Its stepparent — the National Basketball Association — is not. The owners, thanks to a rich new TV deal, can’t count their money fast enough to keep up.

So the announcement that the Boston Celtics — the league’s most storied and tradition-bound team — would go with jersey billboards has upset the purists.

The Celtics jersey will now carry the GE logo. The conglomerate is moving its headquarters to Boston.

The Celtics are one of three teams — Philadelphia and Sacramento are the others — that are adopting jersey advertising. The rest will most certainly follow.

In announcing the new logo, a Celtics exec acknowledged the team’s bond with tradition.

“We’ve got Auerbach, we’ve got Russell, we’ve got Bird, and now we’ve got Thomas Edison,” Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck told the Boston Globe.

Related: See the new Target Center space for the best season ticket holders

  • Mike Worcester

    //“We’ve got Auerbach, we’ve got Russell, we’ve got Bird, and now we’ve
    got Thomas Edison,” Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck told the Boston

    To paraphrase the song lyrics, one of these is not quite like the other. (Any bets how long it will take for a Target bulls-eye to appear on the Wolves’ jerseys?)

    • At least we still have the Yankees, who won’t even put player names on their jerseys.

      • Mike Worcester

        Much as I’m not a Yanks fan, that aspect of their adherence to tradition makes me smile a bit, even if it makes me have to memorise which player is which number.

  • Jeff C.

    //“We’ve got Auerbach, we’ve got Russell, we’ve got Bird, and now we’ve got Thomas Edison,” Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck told the Boston Globe.

    Stupid. Edison never played for the team. The other great people aren’t honored on the uniform.

    • MikeB

      We’ve got 10M in sponsors, we’ve got 20M in sponsors, we’ve got 60M in sponsors, and now we’ve got 100M

    • The Edison Light Company was the original General Electric.

  • Ben

    Corporate sponsorship is plastered all over everything else in professional sports, why not their jerseys?

  • allen

    the most disgusting is how our kids have to wear ads for sponsors, from the time they are little athletes. whoring out our children when the sponsors should simply do a public service and donate without naming, and in effect mandating that we read their ads on baseball walls, etc.

    • Alex

      Huh. Turns out you can sponsor a little league team for about $500/season in the few leagues I’ve checked. I wonder what would happen if I offered to sponsor a team under condition of anonymity and under condition that the team uniforms not have any other marketing on them?

  • wjc

    I’m waiting for the call at an upcoming NFL game:

    Ezekiel Elliott takes the hand-off. He crosses the Burger King 30-yard line. He’s to the Miller Lite 20, the IBM 10, and he reaches the Chevy end zone. Touchdown”

    • X.A. Smith

      MLB radio listeners have long suffered sponsored play-by-play. Double plays, pitching changes, etc. are often branded.

      • wjc

        Really? I had no idea. Eecchh!

        • Back in the day — and maybe they still do — the Yankees broadcasts had a “Getty Goner” when someone hit a homer.

          In Cleveland, it’s not a strikeout, it’s a Circle K strikeout.

          A highlight is a “I’m Loving It” moment sponsored by McDonalds.

      • Who can forget the “Kwik Trip to the mound” every time a Twins pitching coach has to yank a pitcher?

        • wjc

          Do they invoke “Preparation H” if they call for relief?

  • Jack Ungerleider

    In a couple of weeks Red Bull’s Crashed Ice series returns to St Paul. If you go, or you watch in on TV (I believe on NBC’s cable sports channel or streaming on you’ll notice some familiar names on the jerseys. They include for the current #1, last years champ, Cameron Naasz: Jeff Belzer on the front of the Jersey and Holiday on his helmet. One of the other Americans had a bright red helmet with the word Cub on it in a white font recognizable to anyone from around these parts.

    I realize this has nothing to do with sponsors on the uniforms of “major” sports players. I just found it interesting that local businesses are sponsoring the “drivers” (that’s what they call them) of this new winter sport. I was watching the first event that was in Marseilles, France a few weeks ago. Now people in the south of France know about a car dealership group, a gas station chain and a grocery store chain from Minnesota. Does this mean we’ve hit the big time? 8^)

  • Next up: The Target “bullseye” logo on Wolves jerseys

    • BJ

      Target is the Jersey sponsor for Minnesota United FC (the soccer team), it was announced last week.

  • Will

    I would much rather have corporations pay for these professional teams than tax payers.

    • That’s not a scenario that’s in play .

      • X.A. Smith

        Yeah, what’s happening is taxpayers are buying the billboards, and the teams are selling the paint for them to corporations.

      • Will

        I think it is for LA football teams, cities are less inclined to pay for stadiums so now they move to areas where private groups will pay for them.

  • Jay

    Chico’s Bail Bonds have to get their name out there somehow. Let Freedom Ring!

  • Mark in Ohio

    If you want to see it in action in a bigger way, take a look at the English Premier League soccer uniforms. They seem to rely on sponsors and advertizing for a biggger part of their revenue. They have had sponsors on their club jerseys for years, and the total league value is approaching that of the NFL. At first, I didn’t care for it at first, but it really doesn’t impact the game or the announcing. It must bring in a lot of money, as their ticket prices are reported to be much more reasonable than NFL tickets, I don’t know how it compares to the NBA. A season pass for the most expensive team is just over £1000, or about$1300 at today’s exchange rate, and that’s for 19 games, with many of them far less than that.
    (sorry, originally posted 38 games, which is the full season length)

  • RBHolb

    I recall hearing a few people saying they were disappointed that the then-new Timberwolves would be playing in the “Target Center.” Think how it would disillusion children to see sports associated with commerce!