The Los Angeles Lakers joined a growing list of teams that will feature a patch advertisement on their jersey during the 2017-2018 season, partnering with the eCommerce platform Wish. The deal lasts for three years and is thought to be worth between $12-$14 million per season, which is the second-richest patch deal behind the agreement the Golden State Warriors struck with Rakuten for $20 million per year.
The NBA determined that income from the jersey patches would be divided so that 50% goes to the players, 25% to the team, and 25% would be distributed to the other teams in the league. As a result, if the deal hits the top-end value of $14 million per season, the Lakers would only see $3.5 million.
For some, that figure isn’t enough to justify tarnishing a classic jersey with an advertisement, especially since the Lakers are already the most profitable team in the league.
Still, $3.5 million per year for three years is a sizeable chunk of change, even for the Lakers, and there are other factors to consider. While the franchise is certainly a juggernaut financially, it also exists in a league with 29 other teams and must act as a cooperative citizen in the NBA community.
After all, with nearly half of the league now adopting jersey patches, the Lakers will profit from the 25% share of each deal that gets distributed to all teams. The NBA estimated that, in total, jersey patches could raise more than $100 million in revenue, and it now appears that number is well on the conservative side.
Out of the 25% league-wide pot, the Lakers, and every team in the league could stand to bring in millions more in their disbursement from that fund.
Should the Lakers not participate in the patch program, not only would they lose out on the revenue produced by the deal but they would also decrease the cut the rest of the league receives as well. The NBA may be competitive, but a rising tide does lift all boats.
The Lakers are keenly aware that image matters in the NBA, especially when it comes to landing superstars. With that partially in mind, they brought in Magic Johnson and his magnetic personality to run the team and Rob Pelinka to shrewdly make moves as the team’s General Manager.
They unveiled a gorgeous new, state-of-the-art practice facility that several NBA stars have already requested to train at while spending their summer in Los Angeles.
When they host the All-Star game at the Staples Center this season, they made sure that they will have Kobe Bryant’s jerseys freshly hanging in the rafters alongside their other legends, a reminder to every NBA player who descends on the place of how well they treat their stars.
Of course, let’s not forget they also drafted Lonzo Ball, who makes teammates feel like every day is Christmas with all of the easy buckets he gives out every night.
Now, added to the Lakers free agent tractor beam is the fact that the Lakers are now directly responsible for a solid chunk of the 50% of patch revenue that is putting a little more coin in the pockets of the players. That certainly won’t hurt their popularity among the league’s talented stars.
Of course, Los Angeles had to be careful to toe the line between profit and tackiness. The Lakers jersey and the history it represents means something both to fans and prospective free agents. The NBA has greatly restricted the size and the placement of the patch so as not to detract from the jersey itself (they won’t be going the way of soccer, where the advertiser’s name is the overwhelmingly dominant graphic), but some simply look better than others.
So how does the Lakers patch stack up compared to the other jersey ads? Surprisingly well.
The patch perfectly matches the color scheme of the jersey, with “Wish” appearing on the left shoulder in the same color as the Nike swoosh that adorns the right. Contrast that to the teams whose advertisers don’t match the scheme, like the Milwaukee Bucks with Harley Davidson, Kings with Blue Diamond, or the Warriors with Rakuten, and it’s clear that the Lakers patch is much less distracting.
Additionally, the decision was made to make the background color of the patch match the jersey (gold on the home gold jersey, white on the Sunday Whites jersey, etc) which essentially shrinks the footprint of the ad itself.
The only thing noticeable is the four letters of “Wish”, unlike the teams who have ads that match but went with an opposite-color background, like the 76ers on their StubHub patch or the Pistons with Flagstar Bank. ESPN’s Darren Rovell tweeted an image of a few of the patches earlier this summer:
Here are 7 of the 8 NBA jersey ad patches announced. Timberwolves/Fitbit jersey will be revealed later. pic.twitter.com/P99a9nBaUV
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) June 20, 2017
If the Lakers had to have an advertisement on their jersey, they did it in the best way possible. The ad is there but it’s not going to be noticeable, which should help ease the concerns of purists.
Out of all of the patches, perhaps only the Orlando Magic’s Disney logo is more understated. The only real complaint is that the Wish patch is a patch at all. With the background matching the jersey anyway, it would look even cleaner if “Wish” was simply embroidered into the jersey itself, just like the Nike swoosh on the opposite corner.
Overall, the Lakers did a tremendous job of tastefully putting an advertisement onto one of the most iconic jerseys in the league. The added revenue is always welcome, but it’s also a move that could foster a small amount of goodwill with the players and help rehab the team’s image league-wide.
Having a jersey advertisement may not be a major factor in the team’s rebuilding effort, but sometimes little moves like this add up to something big.