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Welcome to Idiocracy: NBA D-League to Become Gatorade League (yes, really)

The NBA began the week on a good note, with the Jazz eschewing a standard corporate advertising patch in favor of a charitable fundraiser. But if you think that move was the start of a new, less ad-centric approach, think again. Yesterday it was back to corporatocracy as usual, as it was announced that the NBA’s Development League, commonly known as the D-League, will be known as the Gatorade League, or the G-League, starting next season.

That sounds like something out of The Onion, and the video clip shown above could easily be mistaken for a Saturday Night Live sketch (the bit where one guy talks about “the essence of what the Gatorade League stands for” is begging for a laugh track), but the whole thing is all too real. And the logo shown at right, with the Gatorade mark in the corner, will be the league’s new logo.

If you look at the press release in that last link, it’s interesting to see that they’re describing Gatorade as the league’s “entitlement partner.” That’s one of the standard terms for this type of arrangement (it’s frequently used in auto racing, as you can see here, here, and here), although the simpler “title sponsor” is also common. I’ve always found the “entitlement partner” version to be creepily appropriate, because the corporate hubris required to spread advertising into every nook and cranny of our world definitely reflects a sense of entitlement.

I know, I know — it’s just the D-League G-League, so who cares, right? But we know from experience that the NBA uses the D-League and the WNBA as staging areas to test-drive new initiatives. At one point ad patches on NBA jerseys would have been unthinkable, and we all know how that one turned out. So don’t be so sure that this type of “entitlement partnership” couldn’t one day work its way up to the NBA or one of the other major pro leagues.

Of course, if you’re a soccer fan, you’re already used to this type of thing, as the Premier League had several corporate-sponsored advertised names from 1993 through 2016. Interestingly, when the Premier League announced last year that it would no longer have a title advertiser, the explanation given was this: “The move reflects the organization’s desire to mirror major American sports leagues like the NBA and NFL in presenting a ‘clean’ brand.”

An admirable approach. Too bad the NBA now seems to be heading in the opposite direction.

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Meanwhile, over on the diamond…: There was a bit of a stir yesterday when MLB commish Rob Manfred talked about the possibility of uniform ads during a Bloomberg interview. The interview is shown above, and here’s the key passage, after the interviewer raised the issue of jersey advertising:

Manfred: We’re going to have front-of-the-jersey branding with Under Armour for the first time in the next couple of years [actually in 2020 ”” PL]…

Interviewer: That’s already a big move.

Manfred: A big change for us, and I think we’ll have to digest that change before we think about going further.

Interviewer: But you’re not ready to write it off or anything..?

Manfred: No, I mean, look, I think you have to remain open-minded. Our game evolves, like all games. You have to be careful with the changes you make, so you don’t offend the traditionalists that are our core audience. But we remain open-minded on topics like that.

So basically the interviewer raised the issue and Manfred was non-committal. It’s the kind of response that lets people project their own predisposed notions onto the situation. If you believe the worst, then your takeaway is, “Manfred is definitely laying the groundwork for jersey ads.” If you’re more of optimist, your takeaway is, “He said they won’t even consider it until after they see how things look with the Under Armour logo creep, and that’s still three years away, so there’ll be no jersey ads for the foreseeable future.”

I’ll say this much: Manfred’s been commissioner for barely a year and we already have New Era logo creep on the caps, Stance logo creep on the socks, Under Armour logo creep coming to the jerseys, and an “open-minded” position on uniform ads. He’s not exactly building the proudest legacy, at least from a uniform standpoint.

(My thanks to Phil for bringing the Manfred interview to my attention.)

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Party reminder: Uni Watch party this Sunday, Feb. 19, 3pm, in the back room of the Douglass (which is the same place we used to meet at, Sheep Station, but with a new name). Phil will be there, I’ll be there, I may have theoretical T-shirts to sell, etc. Come join us!

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The Ticker
By Mike Chamernik

Baseball News: The Rockies updated their Twitter avatar for Spring Training. … Here’s a look at the Rockies in their new lighter shade of purple (from Phil). … The Mets sported the new BP pullovers yesterday (from Brian Erni). … New Orioles catcher Welington Castillo will wear No. 29 (from Andrew Cosentino). … A display outside of the Phillies’ Spring Training clubhouse reads “Ya Gotta Believe,” which was Tug McGraw’s slogan for the 1973 Mets. McGraw later won the World Series with the 1980 Phillies. The Mets responded to the Phils’ display by tweeting, “Ya gotta be kidding”. … Speaking of Mets mantras, fans at a high school basketball game in Texas may have borrowed a line from the 1986 song “Let’s Go Mets” (from Glenn Stern). … New road uniforms for Virginia Tech (from Andrew Cosentino). … Austin Peay will wear 1967 throwbacks as an alternate this year (from Josh Smith). … New 3D batting helmet logos for Mississippi State (from Phil). … Marlins manager Don Mattingly lifted the ban on players’ facial hair after one season. … Here’s a quiz that asks you to idenitfy the year that a given MLB uniform debuted (from Dan Cichalski). … New black alts and raised helmet logos for Northwestern.

NFL News: Someone got a tattoo of Donald Trump’s face with the Eagles’ logo as his hair (from Phil). … Vikings head coach Norm Van Brocklin had his jersey tucked into his slacks in this early-1960s photo (from Ray Hund). … Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat wore a football helmet as part of performance art piece in the late 1970s. … Harry Higgins found a Jimmy Graham jersey with an upside-down nameplate at a TJ Maxx near Seattle. … The Jets shared Shea Stadium with the Mets through 1983. During the baseball and football season overlap, the Jets placed their midfield logo on a portion of the infield dirt. Here’s another angle (from Jeff Flynn).

Hockey News: The Charlotte Checkers teased St. Patrick’s Day jerseys (from Thomas Harris). … Here’s a story from 1968 on notable NHL players who wear No. 9, such as Gordie Howe and Maurice Richard (from Jerry Wolper). … A writer who covers minor league hockey scored all of the jerseys in the ECHL. Here’s his ratings for the North, South, Central, and Mountain divisions (from Denny Majeske). … During the late 1960s, Penguins goalie Les Binkley wore eyeblack on his mask. He often went maskless, without eyeblack, as well (from Fred Teigen). … Yeshiva University has a very successful roller hockey team. Players wear helmets over their yarmulkes.

Basketball News: The Timberwolves wore black at home last night. … On Valentine’s Day 1990, Michael Jordan’s jersey was stolen from the locker room before a game in Orlando, so he wore a blank No. 12 jersey for the first half. Yesterday, Mitchell & Ness released the jersey as a new throwback. … The Nets honored Brazilian basketball legend Oscar Schmidt on Monday night. He wore No. 14 when he played pro ball in Brazil and Spain. Schmidt was drafted by the Nets in 1984 but never came over. He’s often called the best player to have never played in the NBA. … One observer ranked seven notable All-Star Game unis (from Phil). … Girl Scouts will receive Grizzlies patches at a game later this month. … When the Wizards wear their home whites, the logo on Otto Porter’s waistband has a red box around it, unlike his teammates (good spot by Robert Anderson). … Virginia Tech wore its black and pink Coaches vs. Cancer uniforms at Pitt last night (from Andrew Cosentino).

Soccer News: U.S. Soccer has unveiled a new red kit, which will be worn for the World Cup qualifier against Honduras on March 24. … In support of local voting rights, D.C. United replaced its jock tags with a patch of the District’s “Taxation Without Representation” license plate. The club had the slogan on the inside of the jersey collars last season (from Phil).

Grab Bag: The new logo for the Swiss Rugby Union uses the Euclid Flex font (from Gary Chanko). … The playing of a national anthem prior to a game doesn’t always go off perfectly.

Comments (72)

    “New Orioles catcher Wellington Castillo” He actually spells Welington with one L.

    Apparently McGraw went to the “Ya Gotta Believe” well a couple times. I wish they would just let that be a Mets thing…


    “Although McGraw repeated the slogan with the 1980 Phillies, and Philadelphia fans tried to resurrect it several years ago, it didn’t have the same impact as it did when it woke up New York, the team and the city, during the Summer of 1973.”

    Phils should have went with the Dave Cash slogan of “Yes We Can” from 1976. That was a rally cry that coincided with the team finally making the playoffs and towards the 1980 title.

    My first recollection of the phrase came from the United Farm Workers movement. You know those “bad hombres” who snuck into ‘Murrica to steal our jobs, harvest our crops, clean our yards and whatnot.

    From the Weekeepeediah…

    Sí, se puede (Spanish for “Yes, it is possible” or, roughly, “Yes, one can” is the motto of the United Farm Workers. In 1972, during Cesar Chavez’s 24-day fast in Phoenix, Arizona, he and UFW’s co-founder, Dolores Huerta, came up with the slogan.

    Your “recollection” is mistaken. The UFW and Ceasar Chavez consistently opposed to illegal immigration.


    However your “‘Murrica” reference proves you’re woke . . .

    I never said that Cesar Chavez was pro illegal aliens.
    I said that he and Dolores Huerta came up with the slogan Si se puede.

    I would not expect someone as wokey as you to grasp an old in-state joke that rattled around the State Capitol by Republicrats at the time. The problem with the influx of illegal aliens in the Big Valley was that Big Farmers paid them for decades. Remnants of the old Bracero program. Cheaper than paying american citizens.

    A problem that exists to this day.

    “New Era logo creep on the caps, Under Armour logo creep coming to the jerseys”

    And don’t forget the “MLB logo creep” with the belt loop logos.

    A followup to the Hockey’s No. 9 column:


    It includes the quote, “Did you know hockey was the first sport to have players wear numbers?” but doesn’t mention a date.

    Manfred: “Our game evolves, like all games. You have to be careful with the changes you make, so you don’t offend the traditionalists that are our core audience.”

    Careful? We now have the “pitch clock” in the minors, runners starting at 2nd base in extra innings in the minors, logo creep on caps, jerseys, pants, commemorative bases, pink or blue bats, and the list goes on. There’s no “careful” about it. The NASCARization of MLB, and adapting the game to the A.D.D. fan, is gradually taking shape. Nothing “careful” about it.

    Also, night games…television broadcasting, those pesky west coast teams, the DH rule (that won’t last) and lowering the mound…(I still can’t get over that one…raise that mound…seriously)

    The “pitch clock” is actually a welcome addition. As long as mamagers suffer from Tony LaRussa Over-Strategy Syndrome (TLOSS) and hitters suffer from OCD with the batting gloves thing (step in and hit, boychik, that ain’t Koufax out there), the pitch clock is fair. And it was tripled in the Arizona Fall League before it hit AA and AAA. (By the way, unless you live in a market with a AA or AAA team, why is this a concern for you?)

    The starting runners on second in extra innings thing does NOT actually exist in the minors. It was a proposal that has not been enacted. Please don’t act like it’s a thing when it’s not yet a thing.

    I recall the Spider-Man advertising bases, which faced a backlash, but am unfamiliar with commemorative bases (and if they are not ad-centric, I really don’t care).

    Pink and blue bats are (at least in theory, though it’s not a bad idea to be cynical) “for a good cause.” You did leave out camo units and special holiday caps, which I grant you.

    A different possible way to approach excessive pitching changes: each pitcher used in a game of less than ten innings may not pitch in either of his team’s next two games. No one is going to carry enough pitchers to allow for five-pitcher games under that constraint.

    Charlie O. Finley wanted to put in a pitch clock to speed up the game. His idea was that if the pitcher took more than 20 seconds a horn would go off.

    Still waiting for those orange baseballs that he thought would make the game more exciting.

    Something else unique in that Jets photo is that in the dirt end zone the “Jets” word marks face the viewer in the stands instead of back at the field of play

    You mention the Premier League dropping Barclays as a sponsor, but keep in mind that the division below that is called the Sky Bet Championship. No different from how the NBA’s set up.

    The Gatorade League makes me think more of NASCAR cups or lower level golf leagues, which generally have sponsors.

    Traditionally, NASCAR advertisers have in fact been sponsors. Not sure how true that is at the highest level these days though.

    Yes, Wikipedia uses that term. LOTS of people use that term. That does not make the term accurate or appropriate. That is precisely why I am pushing back against the term.

    so I guess my question is whether there is more to it than just having your name on it. What if you sponsor a tournament, like have someone planning it and putting money into the day. Is that considered “sponsoring?” I feel like with development tour’s like in golf, the company puts more into it than just having their name on the banner. What if there is some kind of outreach involved?

    Those are just different degrees or levels of involvement in the advertising.

    As I have already stated many times, sponsorship implies essential support — support without which the enterprise would collapse, or would never have existed in the first place.

    I’d have to put a number of players ahead of Oscar Schmidt as the best player to never play in the NBA. At the top of that list would be Meadowlark Lemon, who Wilt Chamberlain said was the best player he ever saw, and Raymond Lewis. Also two players who died before having a chance to play in the NBA, Len Bias and Hank Gathers.

    I disagree that the G-League video could be mistaken for an SNL sketch. The G-League video is funny.

    The best part is how it crumbles if you think about it for just a second — what the hell are they supposed to be pretending to do with this player? A treadmill, a clipboard and some tap lights add up to a fruitful day at the “institute,” the nexus between salty flat neon green soda and the future of professional basketball.

    The new shade of Rockies purple looks much better on the field than it did in publicity photos. I’ve changed my mind and now I like it.

    Much agreed. And while I’m at it, I’ll put in a good word for Paul’s twin bêtes noires, purple and teal.

    Yes, having finally discovered them, ’90s MLB teams overindulged crazily in those two colors. But as with the Athletics’ green, I approve of at least ONE team owning that offbeat color as its own, and it seems aesthetically fine for the Rockies to own purple. (Now if only the Marlins would embrace their 1993 teal glory.)

    If the Marlins would replace that godawful black (c’mon guys, it’s Miami) with teal, and bring back the orange cap at least as an alternate, those would be some pretty damn good unis. I don’t give a care if it looks too Dolphinsy. It would look like Miami.

    I did the MLB/Cut4 uni quiz. They have the Mets white pinstripe uni(2016 playoff photo as being introduced in 1962. However, correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t the Mets wear a cream pinstripe for the early years?

    There was no “white” vs “cream” in the flannel days. White uniforms tended to be slightly off-white, but were considered to be white.

    Regarding the Texas high school basketball banner: “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work” is pretty ubiquitous nowadays. It may have come from the Mets’ song (not sure what the origin of it is), but I had no idea that’s a lyric in the song and I’m pretty confident most other people don’t know the song either.

    Don Mattingly should set an example under his new Marlins rule by growing his damn mustache back.

    Mustaches improve the look of most men; but rarely has a guy looked so wrong without one as Mattingly does.

    Excuse me. .while Don’s & keith’s were iconic for players…Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage & Al Hrabosky deserve a nod

    If Goose ever shaved his Fu Manchu, I’d stop watching baseball, so help me Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    Couple of interesting things about those Jets-at-Shea photos, particularly the second one.

    Note that the “JETS” wordmark in the foreground (home plate) end zone is “upside down,” viz., based on the end line instead of the goal line as is usually the case with end-zone typography.

    Also, and I could be mistaken as I was very young at the time, but I seem to recall from the only Jets game I attended at Shea (a 32-10 win over the Lions in 1979) that the Jets’ sideline was on the right, i.e., the first-base/right-field/Mets-dugout side. But note that the midfield logo is based on the opposite sideline (3B/LF), which is probably because the football press box was on that side.

    It’s difficult to make out in the photo which team is on which sideline, but it appears (and again, correct me if I’m wrong) that the Jets are wearing white in this game and are on the 1B/RF sideline. The opponent looks like it might be Baltimore, or Buffalo, or Oakland; I can’t read the scoreboard.

    Hey Paul, you say that Premier League is going towards American sports leagues “clean” names tendency, but they dropped Barclays to let the road clear to bring even more sponsors to clubs. Many of them were loosing bank/financial institutions as sponsors because Barclays + Premier League agreement didn’t let it happen by contract and also because it would eclipse them even if they were some regional banks or institutions without the clash of interests.

    Still, they didn’t replace Barclays with anything. I agree with Paul that teams and leagues are constantly watering down their brands, but putting the name of some random advertiser first in the name of the league seemed foolish even by their short-term, greedy standards.

    In that last Welington Castillo picture you can see that the O’s coaches are wearing their regular home (white panel) hats while the players are wearing the spring training hats.

    Kinda like the old A’s coaches in white hats thing.

    Did anyone else notice that the URL for Austin Peay is letsgopeay? Maybe I’m just a bit childish but that made me chuckle.

    When James “Fly” Williams played there back in the day, the chant was “The Fly is open, Let’s Go Peay!”

    Those US Soccer red thirds look almost exactly like England’s seconds. So much for that war for independence.

    Speaking of the Austin Peay players wearing 1967 throwbacks, am I alone in thinking they would look better with their arms straight down their sides, rather than clasping their hands in front like they were lined up for a penalty kick in soccer? I have heard the hands-in-front stance referred to as “figleafing”.

    That Texas team should have paraphrased something from Get Metsmerized instead. “Shooting, power, speed and style, results guaranteed to make ya smile!/Get Texasized, Get Texasized!”

    I love the drop-shadow numbers on the yeshiva roller hockey jerseys, just like the old Tackla IIHF jerseys.

    Hey, Paul, Phil, everyone…

    Doug Keklak, another long-time UW member, sent me a text that my name had come up here yesterday.

    I’ve read through yesterday’s posts, and based on the way that post recovered from October ’08 reads, I very well may have been the first to use BFBS(Black For Black’s Sake). We were looking for a shorthand for “Black Unis Because Even Though It Really Isn’t One Of Our Team Colors We’ve Been Told It Makes Us Look Intimidating and It’s The Cool Thing To Do”.

    As to whether it appeared earlier on Creamer’s site, I honestly don’t know. Have almost ever visited there, and don’t think I’ve ever read the comments. In fact, I’m not sure that at the time I even knew it existed; I’d found UniWatch only that spring/summer. It’s entirely possible someone else had the same thought around the same time.

    There you go. I can’t say, “Yes, it was ME!!!” Only that it appears it was.


    Ladies and gents — Ricko!

    For those of you who are new around here, Ricko was (and still is) a Uni Watch god. Great to have you back, buddy. Not surprised to learn that you were the one who coined “BFBS.” Thanks for helping to clear up the mystery!

    Ricko! Man, I wish you chimed in more often…I’d visit the site more frequently if you did. Hope all is well with you…your comments and “Benchies” are missed…

    I know you guys have BFBS, GFGS. In baseball, is there a such thing as Red for Reds sake? It seems like half the league has red alternate uniforms.

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