Sacramento Kings point guard and pizza pitchman Isaiah Thomas is always happy to tell fans he's a "pizza guy." He says so in a number of local commercials for the Pizza Guys chain, and fans have taken to using the moniker when cheering for their favorite undersized floor general.
UPDATE: Tuesday, April 1 at 4:15 p.m. ET by Grant Hughes
Well, it's official: The Kings pulled one over on us.
Per a tweet from the team's official account, there will be no pizza-themed jerseys after all:
Kudos, Kings. Now the media, much like the rest of the NBA, will no longer take you seriously.
---End of update---
Thanks to some opportunistic marketing, the Kings will replace "Thomas" on the point guard's jersey with "Pizza Guy" for the team's tilt against the Dallas Mavericks on April 6.
How could they not? They'll want to be able to say they embraced Thomas' on-camera work from the jump, especially after he wins an Oscar for this:
Here comes the marketing speak, courtesy of Pizza Guys founder Shahpour Nejad, per an official Kings press release:
The opportunity to not only build off of the incredible brand synergy that’s been created between us and Thomas, but also Sacramento’s home team, is truly remarkable. This is certainly a tribute to Kings fans for adopting our slogan into a nickname for one of our favorite players, and its now set to make sports history, appearing on the back of Isaiah’s uniform.
It's hard to stomach the term "brand synergy" when used unironically, but let's give the Kings credit for this one.
There's no real reason to watch Kings games for the rest of the season, and they should be commended for capitalizing on a nickname that has captured their fans' attention.
And as far as Thomas' commitment to the partnership goes, well, that's been evident for quite a while, per Aaron Bruski of NBC Sports:
Isaiah Thomas is driving around delivering pizzas tonight in Sacramento. Because duh, he’s a pizza guy.— Aaron Bruski (@aaronbruski) February 21, 2014
Purists will probably find the Kings' partnership a little bothersome, but this is the direction the NBA is headed.
Per ESPN's Darren Rovell, commissioner Adam Silver has already said putting logos on jerseys could create more than $100 million in added revenue for the league and that we'd see branded uniforms within five years: "We know what the value is to advertisers in a world of 1,000-plus channels to be able to show fans in-game branding."
Isaiah Thomas is a Pizza Guy, but he's also a vision of the NBA's marketing future. Digest that as you will.