NBA and the Olympics

Once again I was asked about my position on NBA players and the Olympics. One question from 1 reporter usually leadsto followups form 100 more. So in the interest of disclosure, fairness and time,I decided topost the response here and save myself some time…..

In the sports marketing world, advertisers usually have a set sports marketing budget. Each advertiser gets pitched by all the different sports entities competing for those dollars. Among those competitors are both the Olympics and NBA. One of the beauties of the NBA pitch is that our athletes are so recognizable, personable and respected. The ability for an advertiser to connect their products to KG, Tim Duncan, Shaq, Dirk, etc, individually, or by buying sponsorship or commercials in game, is a huge selling point for us. It should be a huge selling point exclusively available to the NBA, but unfortunately that is no longer the case.

When the NBA was broadcast on NBC, it was far less of an issue.With NBC as the home of the Olympics and the NBA broadcast partner, there were a ton of cross promotional and selling opportunities. NBC could promote the Olympics in NBA games, and promote the NBA in the Olympics broadcasts. NBC could require advertisers to buy NBA advertising in order to get Olympic advertising,or vice versa. There were untold win – win scenarios by having both the Olympics and the NBA together at NBC.

That obviously is not longer the case. The NBA is now on ESPN/ABC and TNT. They are paying us a lot of money in a deal that has been working well for all invovled. What in the world are we doinghelping our partners competition ?Why are we giving our most valuable manpower to a huge business, the Olympics so they can try to take revenue away from the NBA and our partners ?

Lets put this in basketball terms…Would youtrade KG, TD, Peja, Jermaine and 10 more all stars , and pay their salaries in case they get hurt , for ……….nothing.

In exchange for providing our best players to the Olympics, the value we are supposed to receive is increased visibility and demand for the NBA, its players and merchandise. The value of which can be quantified as the total revenues received annually by each team from international TV and merchandise sales.

I wonttell you what that number is,but I can tell you it wouldnt pay the salary of a player signed for the million dollar exception this year.

So we are subsidizing the US Olympic committee by:

- Providing players that we pay for

-Reducing the amount of advertising dollars available to the NBA and our broadcast partners by allowing advertisers to use our players via Olympic broadcasts and programs

- Putting our most valuable players at risk, with the possibility of having to pay their salaries even if they are unable to perform,or to perform at the previous levels

- Potentially cheating our fans and customers who make investments in our league, teams and products, with players who are worn down or injured from their Olympic experience

- Whats even crazier is that the USA fans who buy our tickets and pay the players salary probably wont even get to see our stars in more than the Gold medal game.If that !

Where is the logic in any of this ?

I understand that players want to represent their countries. Thats great. Lets put toegether an NBA organized and sanctioned international competition that we can control and profit from. We canallow anycountry to enter a team, and let NBA players represent their country.

If its that important, lets alsoexpand the exhibitions the NBAplays in and against other countries. Im all for international play as long as its in the context of an NBA program that gives consideration to the core NBA fan, customer and partner first and foremost.

If you agree, call your favorite team and tell them you dont want your players participating in the Olympics. You want them getting ready for the next season. And then order your season tickets :)

20 thoughts on “NBA and the Olympics

  1. even crazier is that the USA fans who buy our tickets and pay the players salary probably wont even get to see our stars in more than the Gold medal game

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  2. The US dream team #n acted pathetically recently, I think you remember..That is right.www.runescapegold.us

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  4. Thats the spirt I am use to.
    Maybe its because the US think they have the best team in the world, and maybe they do, but put up or shut up. I thought I read that the US was embrassed by their World Chanpionship no placing but obviously they weren’t.

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  5. The US dream team #n acted pathetically recently, I think you remember. I also think US still has the best players worldwide, and some pride left to show the world good quality basketball. It’s a good opportunity in Athens. It’s also a good chance to act “safe”, behave like a good financial officer – and consolidate shame. After all, that may not be directly connected to figures, right?

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  6. I don’t think they should play. If we want to promote the NBA, then the NBA should make their presance known. Think about it, we only have 10 players playing and they are spending their time getting ready to play. Send as many players as possible with their coaches and make this a showcase for the future players of the NBA. Oh, NCAA playoff is similar, but take it international. Think about the bigger picture. What better way to showcase the NBA and the Olympics with out the fear of somebody getting hurt. Also, send in your dream team and they loose, not good. Send in the dream team and they beat up on a bunch of kids.

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  14. The olympics are a representation of the “best” athletes in the world. The original Dream Team was a huge influence for the entire world. Instead of grabbing a soccer ball or futbol, young kids all over the world grabbed a basketball and practiced and sharpened their skills in the 90′s. Therefore, now the world has caught up to us and their skills and mentality are a major challenge for any team the U.S. may put together. However, I truly believe the NBA, as a whole, is still a collection of the best basketball players on this planet!

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  15. I also agree NBA players shouldn’t be in the Olympics…

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  16. Let me start by saying that I am an Australian and find it very hard to believe that a country that is meant to be so Patriotic doesn’t support their national side because it might take there players away from there national leagues.

    I know myself that I would kill to be able to represent my country and if (I had the skill) it cost me money to do so, so be it.

    I think Larry Miller (Owner of the Utah Jazz) said it very well when he said (taken from the Salt Lake tribune (http://www.sltrib.com/jazz/ci_2385867):
    “There is a risk, but how do you ask a person to forego something like that, I just don’t have it in me to ask an athlete not to represent his country.”

    Thats the spirt I am use to.
    Maybe its because the US think they have the best team in the world, and maybe they do, but put up or shut up. I thought I read that the US was embrassed by their World Chanpionship no placing but obviously they weren’t.

    One thing I will give the NBA owners/teams credit for is that they (the ones that don’t want their players to play) are even handed in this want, not worrying if it is an American or Intenational player unlike that which is done by English Soccer teams!

    Just my 2 cents (I guess 1 once you take the exchange rate into account)

    Molly

    Comment by Molly -

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    Thanks, Jerry

    Comment by Jerry Wilder -

  18. Interesting point of view – sorry to jump on it so late. I just wanted to provide your readers with some interesting stats about the money involved in the Olympics. Click on “2004 Olympics Costs” above to read the article which includes information on what it costs the hosting country, what the networks pay for rights and more.

    Comment by 2004 Olympics Costs -

  19. Well, I must admit that, if I were in your chair, I’d probably think similarly. Analytically, having in mind risk mgmt, budget restrains, etc, etc.

    But I don’t want to do that. I want to be a fan of sport today. After all, it’s about Olympic Games and, yeah, that obsolete drill again, “olympic spirit”… But isn’t it you taking pride of Dream Team #1, the greatest, invincible, unearthy team US had about 12 years ago. Even #2 was good. Now, you go along puting numbers. Well, after so many dreams, more and more commercials and budget driven, of course you reached nightmares…Who’s the world leading country in basketball today? USA? Wrong, guys!!! You lost it…It’s not about what you think, what you (and I) know could be possible, if your managers manage to take the appropiate decisions…It’s about facts. You can not come to int’l competitions with substitutes, second or third teams, and claim positions you lose in real battle, in games. The US dream team #n acted pathetically recently, I think you remember. I also think US still has the best players worldwide, and some pride left to show the world good quality basketball. It’s a good opportunity in Athens. It’s also a good chance to act “safe”, behave like a good financial officer – and consolidate shame. After all, that may not be directly connected to figures, right? It takes time for shareholders to react, we achieve our annual goals and corporate objectives, and so on and so on…

    Comment by Cosmin Nae -

  20. I agree that NBA players shouldn’t be in the Olympics — but it’s probably my arcane belief that the Olympics should be an *amateur* sport, and us stuffing our team with ringers from the pro world is unseemly.

    However, I also think (somewhat contradictorily, I know) that unless the NBA player’s contract forbids him from playing in the Olympics, he should be able to do what he wants, since, to a certain extent (and this is naive and idealisitic, I admit) the country’s presence in the Olympics shold outweigh business considerations. If you don’t want your guys playing the Olympics, make it a contract point and wrap up all discussion right there…

    Comment by Jeff -

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