Ads on NBA Jerseys – The Brands That Make Most Sense For Each Team

Recently, new NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that he believes that ads on NBA team jerseys are “inevitable,” and that it might even happen in the next five years.

These jerseys just look delicious

These jerseys just look delicious.

For the most part, the general public reaction has been “Whoa, whoa, whoa Adam. You’re the new guy that’s been on the job for what, a month? Don’t go messing up a good thing.” That or “What is the NBA turning into, NASCAR?” Yes, NASCAR. Or the WNBA.

I can see both sides to the argument. The good is that the NBA would make an additional $100M a year in revenue from its sponsors. If I’m a businessman like Silver, I’d be really dumb not to at least consider that. The bad is that classic team jerseys are now tainted by corporate America.

But this post is not to debate whether ads on jerseys is a good thing or not. Like Silver said, it’s going to happen so there’s not much point of crying about it. The goal now should be to make the ads as awesome as possible. To do that, we considered which brands would be the most seamless fit to advertise with each NBA team. Obviously, some of these brands could never afford an NBA sponsorship, but hey, maybe they’ll read this post, realize it’s meant to be and start budgeting for five years from now when they become available.

We’ll start with the Eastern Conference and work our way through the divisions:

Atlantic Division
Boston Celtics – Bushmills
Had to go with something Irish here, and a whiskey brand seemed more appropriate than a beer one (Guinness), especially with the heavy drinking required of Celtics fans given the current state of the roster.

New Jersey Nets – Goalrilla
When your team name is the Nets, I think it’s appropriate to have the premier maker of basketball hoops and nets as your primary marketing partner. Besides, have you ever played basketball on a Goalrilla? They’re exquisite – they turn sub-par shooters like myself into amazing ones.

New York Knicks – The Knickerbocker Club
The Knickerbocker is a private gentleman’s club in New York that is one of the more well-known of its kind in the country. And when I say gentlemen’s club, I mean it’s a male only social club, not a strip joint. Got to keep it classy. Also, the club meets in a brick building, and the Knicks are very familiar with bricks.

Philadelphia 76ers – Liberty Mutual Insurance
Liberty Bell. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Liberty to lose an obscene amount of games. It all makes perfect sense.

Toronto Raptors – Air Canada
I thought about Ford here since they make a truck called the Raptor and T.J. Ford used to play for the Raptors back in the day. But that would be too many automobile partners on the list and I think would rather allow a Canadian team to have the opportunity to sponsor. Air Canada is already the title name on the arena the Raps play in, and the connections with air and basketball just make too much sense.

Central Division
Chicago Bulls – Red Bull
Can you imagine Joakim Noah and crew having to replace their pregame Gatorade with Red Bull as part of the partnership? I would be really interested to see how the performance would be affected.

Cleveland Cavaliers – Chevy
Because Chevy makes Cavaliers – get it? Well, at least until 2005 they did.

Detroit Pistons – GM
GM makes a lot of cars that have pistons and they are a Detroit institution.

Indiana Pacers – Pace
This one was served up on a silver platter for me – or should I say in a salsa bowl?

Milwaukee Bucks – Milwaukee’s Best
If we’re talking about a sponsor from Milwaukee, we have to go with a beer brand. It was either Old Milwaukee or Milwaukee’s Best, and if I’m a Buck, I wouldn’t mind having Milwaukee’s Best splattered all over my jersey. Suck it Brewers.

Southeast Division
Atlanta Hawks – Lufthansa
The German airline logo looks like it could be some form of hawk, and they should have a vested interest in the team because of its back-up point guard, German rookie Dennis Schroder.

Charlotte Bobcats – Petco
Because Petco helps you take care of your cat.

Miami Heat – Vice
The media entity should use this opportunity to remind the American public of one of the most revered television programs of the 80s (the second best decade behind the 90s).

Orlando Magic – Disney
I was tempted to get cute with this one and go with something besides Disney, but it would kind of be ridiculous not to. And I’m sure the Magic would be happy to be able to go to Disneyworld all the time, regardless of whether they actually won anything or not.

Washington Wizards – the Harry Potter franchise
Wingardium leviosa!

P.S. Whoever negotiates this deal should require Hermione Granger herself, Emma Watson, to sit court side each game and make basketball fans everywhere happy.

Northwest Division
Denver Nuggets – McDonalds
You can’t have McNuggets without Nuggets.

Minnesota Timberwolves – Star Trek

Oklahoma City Thunder – The Weather Channel
I thought about the Thunder From Down Under here, but then decided against it because I would not want to see them perform at halftime under any circumstances. The Weather Channel seemed like a safe, family-friendly replacement.

Portland Trailblazers – North Face
Chevy would be a natural choice here as well, but I am going to keep them with the Cavs because there are not as many natural options for Cavaliers as there are for the Blazers. North Face helps people trail blaze, and they would help keep the Blazers warm on road trips back east.

Utah Jazz – Yamaha
This was the one of the tougher ones, but I finally came up with Yamaha since they make a lot of fine brass instruments needed to make really good jazz.

Pacific Division
Golden State Warriors – Armor All
So it turns out that Armor All is based in Oakland where the Warriors play. Warriors wear armor so this pairing makes sense, and I am sure the Warriors basketball team drives nice cars that need to be cleaned.

Los Angeles Clippers – Great Clips
This partnership would also keep the Lob City crew looking so fresh and so clean for all of their games.

Los Angeles Lakers – Showtime
Granted, the Lakers are anything but Showtime right now, but the word association with the team is still very strong, especially since Magic Johnson is still a large part of the franchise. The dysfunction in the front office would also be great material for a Showtime documentary or series.

Phoenix Suns – Sunkist
NASA would have been another good choice here, but they’ve had so many budget cuts lately. Also, Sunkist already has a sun in their logo so there is the branding consistency.

Sacramento Kings – Burger King

Southwest DivisionMaverick Cruise
Dallas Mavericks – Tom Cruise
Alright so maybe this isn’t a corporate brand, but I can’t resist the urge to include a Top Gun reference whenever I possibly can.

Houston Rockets – Space X
Again, NASA was in play here because of its location in Houston. But the Rockets were originally named in San Diego and then kept the name when they moved to Houston, so we don’t have to feel obligated to choose them. Also, NASA isn’t building rockets anymore, but Space X is (and reusable ones at that). I also have a man crush on Elon Musk.

Memphis Grizzlies – Grizzly Coolers
I want one of these.

New Orleans Pelicans –  Vlasic Pickles
The pelican that Vlasic uses for its logo makes this a slam dunk. Pun intended.

San Antonio Spurs – Bentley
They make a luxury sedan called the Flying Spur. Spurs players would not complain about this partnership at all.