Value Ads, or Rise Of The #Branded NBA Jersey

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You’re probably like me. You put in a long day at your drudgerous, soul-sucking job, trudge home, fumble with the keys, fend off a particularly eager, drooling dog and/or child and make your way into your Sanctum Sanctorum. This is a home within your home. Your safe place. You absolutely should not call it a "man cave," and don't need to name it at all, really, but you need such a place.

So: settle into your Barca-lounger or its off-brand equivalent, crack open a malted-wheat alcoholic beverage of your choosing, kick off the Florsheims and let out a deep, soul-cleansing exhale as your whole self unclenches and unwinds. The workaday world is not here. Breathe.

The only thing left to do is stick a hatpin through at least two of the four hemispheres of your cerebellum, dig the remote out from the crevasses in the pleather and watch your favorite professional basketball team tangle with someone else’s favorite professional basketball team.

This should be fun! Why, Superstar X is a pending free agent, and you’ve gnawed your fingernails to the cuticles fretting that he may no longer choose to toil for the team you fancy, but would rather ply his trade in another town. Even, gulp, maybe hated opposing team Y! And there’s Frustrating Player Z. If only he could get his shit together. (I'm talking about J.R. Smith, now.)

But something’s missing. Not missing from the game, mind you. The televised clash of civilizations/fob to petty clannishness is pure and good and working as it should. No, there’s something else. An ineffable lack that is slowly sapping the pleasure from what should be an experience of complete and total pleasure. 

You prod and poke and search for this thing-without-name, like jabbing your tongue at a wobbly tooth or pulling at a wayward string on a favorite cardigan, even though you know that the OCD-ish fussing will only make it worse. Then it hits you, what's missing.

It is #brands.


Yes, more brands. You are of course already provided with messages during the stoppages in play that inform you—even often dryly and impishly entertain you—about what products you might want to purchase via 30-second short films. They tell you how they will enrich your experience as a human being or right wrongs that vary in severity from the mundane to the catastrophic. Some have side effects, some have spokespeople; all are available for a price. This is a public service that our friendly neighborhood corporations provide. We reward them with our undying #brand loyalty. This is not even a joke; it somehow happens.

But in your heart, you know that a brighter, better, more intimate bond with commerce is possible. Something more, even, than what we have now. What a glorious, wondrous world it would be if somehow your love of #sporps and the profound emotional connection that can only be had through interacting with #brands could somehow, someway, become one?

Just recently—like Archimedes bursting out of the tub, having discovered the secret to determine the purity of gold—new NBA commissioner Adam Silver has The Answer. Ads on NBA uniforms.

"It just creates that much more of an opportunity for our marketing partners to get that much closer to our fans and to our players. It gives us an opportunity just to have deeper integration when it comes to those forms of sponsorship.”

You, the lonely consumer, have this heart filled with love; full to burst, ready to literally rip it from your own chest, Mola Ram-style, and give that warm love to the brands you care about most. This is now an experience you can have while watching basketball. It’s almost like Russell Westbrook, your adoration of Russell Westbrook and #brands have become one at the molecular level.

As at every wedding, some drunk uncle is going to actually get up at the, “speak now or forever hold your peace” part. He will rant about “tradition” and “turning athletes into human billboards” and "shameless incursions of private interests into what might be considered public space; late-period rapacious capitalism’s talons reaching out to clutch and destroy every soft and unruined thing,” and so on.

But whatever, that dude is hammered, and this is about love. It is about engagement and interaction, not selling and more selling. And anyway, as the Commish hath spake, "I think it's inevitable."

It’s not like the commissioner himself and the various owners have a choice in this. The fact that these badges of honor that will be stitched onto the garments of the world’s finest cagers—stitched, globalistically, in Third World ‘free trade zones’ with slave-level wages—would net upwards of $100 million in additional revenue has less to do with it than does the way of the world.

"I think it's coming. It's inevitable. It's such as enormous opportunity for our sponsors to connect with us. I think the marketplace is asking for it."

So there it is. Pay no attention to this 2012 (unscientific, but still) poll that shows that 79% percent of fans are against this idea. Silver knows different. Silver just knows.

Besides, when this thing—this inevitable thing that is as inevitable as the sharpened scythe of death or the equally sharpened red pen of the taxman—comes, people will get used to it.

"Increasingly as we see Champion's League and English Premier League televised in the U.S., I think it's going to become more acceptable and more commonplace for our fans as well." 

And if those Nanny Statist European Socialists can pull this off, then so can we. Are we not the United States and is this not…

I’m sorry. I have to stop. All in good fun, but I can't do this anymore. Yes, putting ads on uniforms—while at the same time refusing to allow players to take advantage of this sweet, sweet money grab—is shitty enough, but framing it in this absolutely meaningless corporate-speak gibberish is insulting. Just say, "It's going to make us very rich. Period." Then share that money with the people who make those uniforms valuable. Maybe give a bit back where ticket prices are concerned or figure out a way to manufacture them in say, this country, where you might be able to (or be forced to) pay a decent, living wage. Maybe, at the very least, be straight about it.

It'll still suck, but at least you won't be treating consumers like children, and pretending—all evidence to the contrary—that fans that can't smell a branded lie like a silent-but-deadly fart in a crowded elevator. Commissioner Silver, dude. You're standing right there.

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