Ranking every NBA jersey sponsor

The Sixers have StubHub. It’s better than most.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Philadelphia 76ers
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets announced a new jersey sponsor, the 19th team in the NBA to add a sponsor patch to the front of their uniforms for the 2017-18 season. The Sixers were the first team to sign a partnership deal for a logo on their jerseys, inking with ticket reseller StubHub last year. This is the first season the NBA is testing sponsor logos on jerseys, with the hopes of adding close to $100 million in additional revenue.

When StubHub was announced as the Sixers’ partner, people were a little leery of the deal. But when you see some of the other corporate sponsors NBA teams have teamed up with, it’s really not so bad after all. Here’s a look at the 19 current NBA jersey sponsors, ranked.

19. Heat – Ultimate Software

NBA: Miami Heat at Utah Jazz
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Weston, Fla.-based Ultimate Software is a local company, yes, but they provide payroll software and human resource assistance. Not exactly getting Miami fans excited for that partnership.

Oh, it’s worth noting here that currently the NBA shop is selling every jersey without sponsor logos, which is odd considering the fact that every soccer team in the world sells their jerseys with sponsors. Barcelona, for example, inked a deal with Rakuten — the same sponsor as the Golden State Warriors — which could be worth up to $71 million per year, thanks in part to all the people around the world wearing Barca jerseys becoming walking advertisements for the global e-commerce brand.

18. Nuggets – Western Union

NBA: Orlando Magic at Denver Nuggets
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Western Union is headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, so they are local to the Nuggets, but, it’s a place you go when you’re out of money and need a fast transfer. Doesn’t exactly scream franchise stability.

17. Hornets – LendingTree

LendingTree was founded in Charlotte, so it’s another local financial institution. But there you can compare deals and pick the one that’s best for you. Maybe that’s how Michael Jordan will assess his basketball decisions from now on. It can’t hurt.

16. Pistons – Flagstar Bank

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Detroit Pistons
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, a local bank.

15. Raptors – Sun Life

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, another local bank. Fun fact about Sun Life, though: They were founded in Quebec in 1865, and their global headquarters are now in Toronto. I bet the exchange rate is phenomenal.

14. Kings – Blue Diamond

NBA: Sacramento Kings at New York Knicks
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Nuts. Sacramento’s jersey sponsor is nuts. The Blue Diamond collective is located in Sactown, but, I mean…their jersey sponsor is nuts.

On the plus side, the Kings probably get almond milk by the truckload.

13. Knicks – Squarespace

NBA: Sacramento Kings at New York Knicks
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Of all the New York companies the Knicks could have partnered with, they chose the “look how easy it is to make a website” people. And they didn’t sign the deal until Oct. 10, just as the season was starting. That said, the deal with Squarespace does include all of MSG’s properties, so it’s probably a pretty big deal.

The New York Knicks and Squarespace will also collaborate on a brand-new community initiative called the “Make It Fund” to help New York City entrepreneurs get off the ground. Throughout the 2017-18 season, Squarespace and the Knicks will provide financial support and prime advertising spots at MSG to local, Squarespace-powered small businesses.

12. Lakers – Wish

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Washington Wizards
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers’ deal with Wish is one of only a handful of deals with companies not from the local market. Yep, the Sixers are another one. Wish isn’t very big in the United States, which is precisely why their CEO Peter Szulczewski wanted to make the deal, inking a partnership with the Lakers that’s worth around $15 million per season. This, from a recent interview at Recode:

More than half of Wish’s business come from shoppers living outside of the U.S., but Los Angeles still accounts for more sales than any other metro area. Even so, there’s still huge opportunity to build awareness there because the majority of Los Angelenos have never shopped with the company. “It’s not like we have 50 percent penetration there,” he said. “Maybe it’s double-digit (percent).”

11. Warriors – Rakuten

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Golden State Warriors
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo, but has a U.S. hub in San Mateo, California, not far from the Bay Area. The red circle logo looks very out of place on the Dubs’ white jerseys — a white logo appears on the blue unis — but hey, for $20 million a year the thing should flash and spin every time they score.

10. Celtics – GE

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA’s regulations stipulate that the sponsor logos could be 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches. Because many logos aren’t circles or squares, they kind of look tiny on the jerseys. NOT THE GE LOGO.

The Boston-based electronics and housewares brand is getting the best bang for NBA buck, yet because it’s a monochrome logo, it doesn’t stand out in a garish way. It looks fine, and it’s probably the way logo sponsorships will go moving forward. If teams are smart. Now, why the Celtics only got $7 million per year is another question entirely.

9. Hawks – Sharecare

NBA: Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Sharecare helps people stay active and get fit and lead healthy lives. It’s a wellness company founded in Atlanta. This is the local-first, healthy-always type of sponsor the NBA should be going for in all cities. And, look! One of the founders is…Dr. Oz.

8. Nets – Infor

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Utah Jazz
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

NYC-based Infor seems like one of the few deals that will actually benefit the players on the court. At least that’s what the press release said when they signed their deal.

Infor and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (BSE) have formed a partnership that combines analytics with data science to help the Brooklyn Nets visualize its data, with a focus on generating stronger results for players, fans, as well as Barclays Center and HSS Training Center, the team’s practice facility in Brooklyn.

Bonus points for being player-focused, and for changing the red logo to black or white to match the uniforms.

7. T’Wovles – Fitbit

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Phoenix Suns
Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Another sponsor that will help the players. The Timberwolves inked a deal with Fitbit that will help them track the players’ movements on and off the court. Why the T’Wolves? I wasn’t able to tell, as the company is based in Silicon Valley. And let’s be honest, every team is tracking their players, whether they’re using a Fitbit branded device or not, but it’s a smart partnership for any NBA team. 

6. Sixers – StubHub

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Sacramento Kings
Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Am I giving the Sixers a hometown discount by ranking them this high? Probably, but they were the first NBA team to sign on with a jersey sponsor and, while StubHub is not a local company, the Sixers have integrated their ticket processing with the re-seller, meaning it’s more than just smacking their logo a couple of tank tops.

Frankly, the white-label resale system run by the team isn’t great for fans looking to score the best deal on seats, but it’s good for the Sixers, even if they only got $5 million out of it.

5. Bucks – Harley-Davidson

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Milwaukee Bucks
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Harley-Davidson motorcycles are from Milwaukee, so the partnership makes a ton of sense. Bucks’ SVP of bizdev Matt Pazaras agreed, via the Journal Sentinel:

“You have somebody with a history that starts here in Milwaukee, a very long history — their 115th anniversary is next year — (and) they have a global presence and global reach much like the NBA. … The thing for me that sent it over the top and why we’re so excited is to have a consumer brand that drives so much passion. Yes, the (Harley-Davidson) logo’s going to be on our uniforms, but people tattoo it on their bodies. Something that drives that much passion from a consumer side is incredibly exciting for us.”

Which would you rather have: A Harley tattoo or a Giannis Antetokuonmpo tattoo? How about the Greek Freak riding a Harley? If that was on the jerseys, it’d be No. 1.

4. Pelicans – Zatarain’s

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at New Orleans Pelicans
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Zatarain’s has been around since the late 1800s, and while it’s now a part of the McCormick brand of foods, it’s still pretty darn synonymous with New Orleans. It’s just a bad logo for the Pels’ jerseys. It’s too long, which makes the logo present very small, given the square constraints. Plus, the red logo stands out, but not in a good way. This might be the best sponsor and the worst patch, combined.

3. Cavs – Goodyear

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Cleveland Cavaliers
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

This is definitely the best-looking logo on any NBA jersey. And the Cavs got a reported $10 million for it. And, like LeBron, Goodyear is from Akron. It’s hard to top that.

2. Magic – Disney

NBA: Orlando Magic at Denver Nuggets
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

I mean…

1. Jazz – Qualtrics

NBA: Miami Heat at Utah Jazz
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Why is the partnership the Jazz made with Qualtrics tops on this list? Not only because Qualtrics was founded in Provo, but because the patch isn’t for the business resource brand. It’s for charity.

Instead of the Qualtrics logo on the jersey, a 5 For The Fight logo will be on the jerseys for at least the first season of the three-year deal between the two sides. 5 For The Fight is a charitable organization trying to eliminate cancer with $5 donations at a time with the goal of raising at least $50 million.

“This is the right thing to do,” Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith said. “As much as I would love to put Qualtrics on it, this idea of raising $50 million for cancer research was something we couldn’t stop thinking about it. The Jazz were open to our ideas and how we wanted to use the patch.”

How is every NBA team not doing this?

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Sports, Sixers