Posted on: October 27, 2011 11:03 am
Edited on: October 27, 2011 11:53 am

Video: Under Armour 'Are you from Here?' campaign

By Matt Moore

Under Armour has launched its first real campaign with its new stable of basketball players including Kemba Walker and Derrick Williams. The concept is built around "Are you from Here?" with "Here" being that mystical place where competition is all that matters, dribbling is poetry, and the journey is more important than the destination. "Here" is also code word for "getting your face kicked in in practice so you can be the best you can be." The ad features the new stable (Williams, Walker, along with signature athlete Brandon Jennings, and without Greivis Vasquez) in a series of grueling practice sessions in various training centers. 

It's not bad, even if it's low on brand exposure for the athletes themselves. Maybe that will come with subsequent spots. It's not bone chilling, but it got a little frosty.  

Here's the ad, via Dime. 

Posted on: July 22, 2011 9:17 am
Edited on: July 22, 2011 9:26 am

OKC gets an arena sponsor

By Matt Moore

Oklahoma City's arena has been just called "The Oklahoma City Arena" for the past three seasons, with the team not needing a sponsor or having one in place yet. But that changed Friday as the Thunder, along with the city of Oklahoma City, which owns the arena, announced its new sponsor: energy giant Chesapeake Energy. The new "Chesapeake Energy Arena" will have all the standard, overbearing signage in place by the 2011-2012 season. 

The deal is worth $3 million for the naming rights, which isn't bad for a market like OKC. From the presser: 

The 12-year naming rights agreement has an initial annual cost of $3.0 million with a 3.0% annual escalation. The agreement includes Chesapeake branding throughout the building including on the basketball court, prominent premium placement on the high-definition scoreboard and new state-of-the-art interior and exterior digital signage. Most of the signage will be in place by the start of the Thunder’s 2011-12 season. 

Chesapeake's involved in oil drilling, but has shifted a majority of its business efforts toward natural gas. So with that in mind, what should we call this place as a nickname? You know, like "The Q" in Cleveland, or "The Cable Box" in Charlotte. Maybe "The Gas Hole?" No? How about "The Oil Slick?" Maybe just "The Well?" 

Not exactly the most appealing possibilities, but for $3 million I'm pretty sure OKC would let whoever name it whatever they wanted.
Posted on: July 20, 2011 4:53 pm

Derrick Williams signs with Under Armour

By Matt Moore

2011 has definitely been a huge step forward for Under Armour as a basketball brand. Coming into the draft, Under Armour had only Brandon Jennings and Greivis Vasquez in their stable. They added Kemba Walker soon after the draft for a huge addition, the first major "star" coming into the league (without having played a game, of course). Walker's a named name. Now they've added a new one as the brand announced today that they have added the No.2 overall pick in the draft, Derrick Williams, to its stable. 

From an Under Armour press release:
“Derrick had a terrific college career and emerged as an absolute force on the sport’s biggest stage,” said Matt Mirchin, Senior Vice President of Sports Marketing, Under Armour. “We love Derrick’s passion and hunger to play better every time he steps on the court. He’s a great representation for the Under Armour brand and a terrific example to all young basketball players who are dedicated to becoming game-changers.”

After winning the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year award in 2010, Williams raised his game to the next level in 2011, receiving finalist honors for the John R. Wooden Award and a second-team All-American selection. He exceled in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, helping the Arizona Wildcats reach the Elite 8 with a 32-point and 13-rebound performance in the regional finals.

“It’s exciting to join a young brand that brings such a strong, new voice and look to the game,” said Williams. “Under Armour is a great fit for me because they are just as passionate as I am about working hard and striving to be the best.”
Yes, exciting stuff, but still, it's a presser. It's an interesting development for Under Armour, which has experienced in full-effect the domination of Nike in the market. Interestingly, as Rufus on Fire notes, Walker plays for Michael Jordan, the face of Nike Basketball. Now Derrick Williams becomes the highest drafted player Under Armour has signed. It's unlikely anything will touch Nike for the next, oh, several decades, but Under Armour's approach is pretty solid. Go after established names coming out of college, instead of high-upside guys. Those are players that are more marketable off the bat. 

Williams' attitude alone is worth investing in. Now we'll have to see if they can transform that... whatever word you like better than swagger... into a platform that gets traction. 

(Photo via Under Armour PR, HT: IamaGM.com)
Posted on: June 3, 2011 2:08 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2011 2:09 pm

LeBron James will open fancy pants new store

Posted by Matt Moore

Business is business, and it doesn't stop for anything, not even the Finals. LeBron James has never been considered to be a guy with impeccable timing, and this week was no different. Even after winning Game 1 of the Finals in the biggest series of his career, he was still aiming for that goal of being a "global icon" his people have talked about for years. After Game 1, USA Today reported a press announcement was released detailing James' investment in a new luxury apparrel and design store.
The Miami Heat superstar is partially bankrolling a planned luxury lifestyle concept store called "Unknwn" that's slated to open in Miami this fall.

James' brand took a beating after he jilted the Cleveland Cavaliers and his home-state fans in Ohio last summer on his ESPN special, The Decision. But everybody loves a winner.

With James now three victories away from his first NBA title, the Nike endorser is expanding his business portfolio via a financial stake in a planned retail store owned by Chris Julian and other investors.
via LeBron James invests in luxury retail store dubbed 'Unknwn' - Game On!: Covering the Latest Sports News.

The details of the release: 

On the heels of a stunning Game 1 victory over the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday night and on the brink of a possible first championship, NBA MVP, business mogul and fashion icon LeBron James has announced that he will launch a new, modern luxury concept store in Miami for fall 2011. The store, which will open with a mix of apparel, footwear, printed materials and lifestyle accouterments, with featured brands to include A.P.C., Original Fake and Nike Tier 0 product, will be called Unknwn.
James has always chosen to ride the line of fashion, style, celebrity, and athleticism. He wants to be everything to everyone. But this was again poor timing. The Heat need the focus to be on basketball. Want proof? Try Game 2. This didn't distract them, but it didn't help, either. 

But as The Basketball Jones points out, this seems like a solid business model going forward. Like I said, business. 

(HT: TBJ via PBT)
Posted on: March 12, 2011 5:57 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2011 5:58 pm

TNT having best season since 1995-96

Posted by Royce Young

The starpower of last Thursday's Heat-Lakers game was good enough to bring in big ratings. And then a great basketball game broke out.

Thursday's Lakers-Heat game drew a 3.1 U.S. rating and 4.844 million viewers on TNT, marking the third-most viewed regular season NBA game on the network since the 1995-96 season, according to Sports Media Watch.

Compared to last year's game, which aired in a later timeslot, this year's was up 327 percent in viewership (that was Chicago-Orlando which pulled in 1.135 million viewers).

But get this: TNT's four largest regular season audiences since the 1995-96 season have come during 2010-11 alone -- Heat-Celtics on Opening Night (7.348M), Heat-Cavaliers on December 2 (7.096M), Thursday's game (4.844M) and Lakers-Celtics on February 10 (4.714M). Those are some big numbers for the NBA. Prior to this season, the network's top game since 1995-96 was Lakers/Celtics in February 2009 (4.311M).

So far this season, TNT is averaging a 1.6 U.S. rating and 2.446 million viewers for NBA coverage, up 31 percent and 35 percent from last year (1.2, 1.814M). Viewership is up 30 percent from the 1995-96 season (1.885M), currently the most-viewed NBA season ever on Turner Sports.

If you're following along, basically the NBA is pretty much at one of its most popular states in the last 20 years. Which freaks me out to no other because this whole lockout thing scares me to death. To build up this much goodwill and make such incredible strides only to potentially set everything back another couple years.

There's no doubt the NBA has as much talent as its had in a good while. And young talent too. Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love and John Wall just add to Kobe, LeBron, Wade, Carmelo and everyone else. The NBA is kind of loaded right now. People say these super teams are bad, but here's one thing we know: The NBA is pretty much as interesting this season as its ever been. We're all watching, all invested. Which is a good thing.

Chart via Sports Media Watch
Posted on: March 11, 2011 1:03 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 2:37 pm

Knicks season tickets to skyrocket

Posted by Matt Moore

The New York Knicks have gone up in the NBA world over the past year, and now they're going to be asking for their fans to chip in accordingly. After nearly a decade of struggle and strife, the New York Post reports that the Knicks are set to increase season ticket prices, and not by a little: 
After restraining themselves the past six seasons, Madison Square Garden management will announce today a substantial rise in Knicks season-ticket prices for next season, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The combination of the Knicks being on the verge of qualifying for the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2003-04, the ongoing $700 million to $1 billion transformation of the Garden, and the latest blockbuster addition of superstar Carmelo Anthony to play alongside Amar'e Stoudemire has prompted owner James Dolan to raise the roof on ticket prices.

MSG sports president Scott O'Neil is scheduled to meet with a raft of season-ticket holders today for a presentation on the new benefits that come with the significantly higher new prices.
via Knicks will raise season ticket prices - NYPOST.com .

Darren Rovell of CNBC reports that the increase is expected to indeed be substantial: an average of 49 percent. Rovell also reports that the $977 million renovation of Madison Square Garden has more to do with the increase than the addition of stars Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. That makes sense, considering salaries for the Knicks were always high, and even with the two stars, the Knicks are a ways from title contention. Still, it's a staggering move for a likely second-round-exit squad even as star-packed as it is. 

You'd think after subjecting fans to the Isiah Thomas era, there'd be more good will. Then again, the Thomas era never really ended, did it?
Posted on: January 26, 2011 9:04 pm

Knicks most valuable, but LeBron biggest impact

Posted by Royce Young

If you were ever wondering what kind of impact a couple big name players can have on franchise value, you have your answer. Forbes released the estimated values for all 30 NBA franchises and taking the top spot from the Los Angeles Lakers are the New York Knicks who are worth $655 million, up 12 percent from last season. (Last season the Knicks were valued at $586 million.)

Maybe more interesting than that though are the tales of Cleveland and Miami. Who would've thought LeBron James would have such an impact on the dollars and cents of a franchise? According to the report, no player in the NBA's 64-year history has had quite the impact on a franchise as LeBron.

LeBron's decision to go to Miami accounted for the biggest gain and drop in team values. The Heat bumped up 17 percent to $425 million (seventh) while the Cavs fell 26 percent to $355 million (15th). That's pretty incredible.

The report made mention of the elephant in the room, meaning lockout talk.
However, if NBA commissioner David Stern gets his way, an imbecile would be able to make money running a team. Stern wants to lop $750 million off of player costs, lowering the portion of basketball-related revenue that goes to players from 57 percent to around 40 percent.

 If Stern succeeds, even teams like the Hornets, who were thought to be headed for bankruptcy before the NBA rescued the franchise, would immediately rise at least 30 percent in value because potential buyers would know they don’t run the risk of writing checks to cover operating losses.
So the Knicks are No.1 and the Lakers No. 2. They are followed by Chicago ($511) million, Boston ($452 million) and Houston ($443 million). The bottom five are the New Orleans Hornets ($280 million), Indiana Pacers ($269 million), Memphis Grizzlies ($266 million), the Minnesota Timberwolves ($264 million), and the big “winner” is the Milwaukee Bucks ($258 million).

If you remember, the NBA purchased the Hornets for a little more than $300 million according to reports. So they overpaid, at least according to Forbes.

One interesting thing of note: The average NBA team is now worth $369 million, one percent more than last year. But don't get too pumped about that. Several of the league's 30 teams haven't fully come back from the recession as values are still 2.6 percent below the average of $379 million two years ago. So the league's value is coming back, just not totally.
Posted on: January 20, 2011 8:46 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2011 8:47 pm

Hornets should meet attendance mark; is it fair?

Posted by Royce Young

The New Orleans Hornets have the right to terminate their lease early with the city if certain benchmarks are not met. It's kind of been the cloud that's hung over the franchise recently, especially with all the uncertainty surrounding ownership and potential relocation talk.

The catch has always been that a new buyer could potentially have the opportunity to uproot the franchise immediately because of the ability to break the lease with the city.

However, it doesn't look like the franchise will be given that opportunity. As mentioned in today's Shootaround, the team only needs to average 14,891 fans against San Antonio on Saturday and Oklahoma City on Monday, which should happen.

The announced attendance at the Hornets past two home games against the Grizzlies and Raptors were 15,951 and 15,155, respectively. The benchmark is set to expire Jan. 31

According to The Times-Picayune , local businesses have donated about $412,000 for tickets to games against Memphis and Toronto to help increase attendance figures. The home game previous to that against the Orlando Magic, who have big names like Dwight Howard and Gilbert Arenas, only brought in a crowd of 13,688. The previous two home games before the Magic, the Hornets saw crowds of 13,532 (Warriors) and 13,433 (76ers).

I don't know what to think about this. On one hand, good going by the locals in rising up to help take a big step in keeping the team in New Orleans. On the other hand, do they really deserve it? The fans of the Hornets didn't actually do it. Some rich people made it happen. Meeting the benchmark is a fabrication. It only happened because some business people beat the system. Is that really the way it should work?

I guess you can't really change it because how can you stop people from buying tickets? But still, donating more than $400,000 just to massage some attendance numbers seems weird to me.

The team expects to have good crowds against the Spurs and Thunder, but is it because some business folks are making it happen or are people really turning out? And does it really matter?

In the end, the arena is going to meet its benchmark which is step one in keeping the team home. But it's only a step and in the end, probably won't mean all that much.

Category: NBA
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com