Lakers Reportedly Oppose Ads on Jerseys: Latest Details and Reaction

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2016

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) holds out his jersey while on the court in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, in Washington. The Wizards won 111-95. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/Associated Press

There are already ads on WNBA jerseys, and the majority of NBA teams apparently want the practice to cross over into their league. Just don’t count the Los Angeles Lakers as one of them.

According to Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com, the Lakers were one of the “few” teams that opposed the idea of ads on jerseys at Sunday’s owners meeting. Haynes also wrote that the majority were in favor and voting will occur at a “later date.”

From an aesthetic standpoint, it makes sense that the Lakers would be hesitant to put advertisements on the iconic purple-and-gold jerseys that players such as Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kobe Bryant wore in their legendary careers.

The jerseys have also become so well-known because the Lakers’ 16 titles rank second in league history behind only the Boston Celtics' 17.

Despite an abysmal 11-44 record this season, the Lakers had the fourth-highest merchandise sales, according to NBA.com's release on Jan. 20, and Bryant’s jersey was the third-highest seller for players.

Perhaps Los Angeles simply doesn’t want to change anything about the popular jerseys, even if advertising would lead to additional revenue.

Darren Rovell and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com broke down the league proposal and said the Board of Governors must approve it. Teams would be allowed to sell one corporate logo for the 2017-18 campaign, which just so happens to coincide with the league’s new apparel deal with Nike.

Rovell and Windhorst also said any deals “would be restricted to three years” and feature logos on the upper-left chest, much like the Kia logos that adorned the All-Star Game jerseys on Sunday.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver (deputy commissioner at the time) discussed selling ads on jerseys in 2011, but according to Rovell and Windhorst, “Momentum was halted as television networks expressed concern that they would pay huge rights fees, only to be ambushed by brands that didn’t advertise on their air putting ads on jerseys.” 

However, the All-Star Game jersey advertisements were sold to Kia by Turner, and Rovell and Windhorst noted that the networks are involved with current discussions.

In addition to pointing out that players will share in some of the revenue, Rovell and Windhorst also addressed concerns about differences in market size.

"In order to address the disparity in market size and the value larger cities would have compared to smaller cities, the league is proposing that 50 percent of the money from uniform ad deals would be kept by teams, while the other 50 percent would go into a revenue-sharing pot," they wrote.

Perhaps that revenue-sharing pot is also impacting the Lakers’ interest because they play in the nation’s second-biggest market in Los Angeles and are one of the iconic franchises in league history. It logically follows that there would be more demand from advertisers to get on the Lakers jersey than one from a smaller and less popular market, but Los Angeles would have to split some of its revenue.

Alas, the fact that the majority of teams were reportedly in favor of selling ads does not bode well for those within the Lakers organization hoping to keep their purple-and-gold jerseys ad-free.