Posts Tagged ‘Adam Silver’

McCollum: Fandom On Your Sleeve

By CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers, for NBA.com

It is nearly impossible to walk down the street in any town in the United States and not run into someone sporting the logo of a professional sports team. Hats, gloves, socks, shoelaces, jackets, shirts, shorts – you name it, you can probably get it with your favorite team logo. The NBA has one of the largest global merchandise businesses in sports, with products available in more than 100 countries on six continents.

Sal LaRocca

Sal LaRocca

I had an opportunity to sit down with Sal LaRocca, the then Executive Vice President of Global Merchandising at the NBA, who oversees the league’s global consumer products business. He has since been named President, Global Operations and Merchandising, adding the oversight of the operations of the league’s 13 international offices to his responsibilities.

LaRocca started his career at the NBA in 1990 (which he kindly pointed out was before I was born), and has brokered the league’s partnerships with adidas, Panini and Spalding, as well as developed the global video game and e-commerce business. Throughout his tenure, LaRocca has seen incredible change and growth in the league’s merchandising business.

“The retailers used to be small, independent brands focused only on filling their orders,” LaRocca said. “When global brands like Nike, adidas and Under Armour jumped in, the business became more sophisticated with retailers becoming their own stand-alone brands, with the NBA as only part of their overall image.”

The advent of the internet also provided access to the purchasing power of NBA fans around the world. In 1990, less than 2 percent of the overall business came from outside the U.S. Now, about 40-45 percent comes from outside. The business has continued to grow.

“Overall, the merchandising business is largely driven by big companies, social media and the internet, and it is done on a global basis,” LaRocca said.

With all that change and access to consumers, you can only imagine what that translates to in terms of revenue. Estimates are that sales total between $2 and 3 billion, but the revenue is significantly less than that. The league does not make any money from fan purchases at retailer locations, but rather from wholesale deals with licensees. Of that profit, any revenue from products with player images or numbers is split 50/50 with the Players Association.

In deciding what goes on shelves, it all comes down to location, location, location. There are certain products – jerseys and video games – that are popular around the world. Other products resonate only locally. For example, the NBA is considered more of a fashionable lifestyle brand in Korea, so the product there features clothes that are more street wear than fan statement, with logos and apparel in colors and styles you won’t find anywhere else. Can you imagine a Blazers jacket in pink and yellow instead of black and red?

It’s great that there are so many options for fans to show support for their teams. But let’s get down to where it really matters – the jerseys on the court. It seems like there is a new style, cut or color introduced on a regular basis. What’s it all about?

C.J. McCollum (Sam Forencich/NBAE)

C.J. McCollum (Sam Forencich/NBAE)

Fashion, marketing and performance technology.

From the fashion side, the different iterations of oncourt apparel are the league’s way of standing out in a very cluttered world of products. A lot of thought goes into figuring out how to push the fashion envelope to stay in front of trends and help integrate NBA merchandise into fans’ lives outside of the arenas.

“There is always an evolution, and as things change and trends evolve, it’s up to us to try new and different things,” LaRocca said.

Jerseys also play a pivotal role in marketing at both the league and team level. There are certain NBA-led initiatives, such as Noches éne•bé•a, that will feature special jerseys as one component of an overall marketing campaign. Among teams, LaRocca said jerseys are driven by what each organization wants to do in its particular market.

“Different jerseys give teams an opportunity to continue reinventing themselves to the local fan base and produce sales opportunities,” he said, “especially as things get more competitive in team markets with other professional leagues.”

When it comes to performance enhancement, the current trend is fabric that is light and dries more quickly. According to LaRocca, the goal is to put players in a position to perform at their best.

“When you decide what helps performance, it can’t make you faster, can’t make you jump higher, can’t make your arms three inches longer,” he said, “but if a uniform can stay light on your body and can dry quickly, and if you never notice that you have a uniform on, that probably is helpful. “

No change is without controversy, which the league is familiar with. There are a lot of people with a lot of opinions, including 450 players that have to wear the jerseys. LaRocca accepts that with so many opinions, you are never going to get 100 percent approval. The solution lies in clear communication and engaging players in product development.

“Our job is to generate revenue, and the more we generate, the more we share with players in the 50/50 split,” LaRocca said. “We aren’t trying to embarrass players or make them look unprofessional and compromise their performance.”

During February, players wore special Black History Month shooting shirts, which Miami Heat guard Ray Allen was very involved in designing.

“[Commissioner] Adam Silver has been very focused on getting players as involved as possible in overall business to educate them on what, how and why we do things,” LaRocca said. “We are trying to do what we can to raise awareness and revenue for everyone.”

I joked with LaRocca that I had some great ideas, and he extended a standing invitation to visit him at NBA headquarters to talk shop. So stay tuned for a limited edition CJ McCollum sock line!

In the end, it is amazing how NBA logos make their way around the world and into the wardrobe. Merchandise allows fans to connect with their favorite athletes and literally wear their passion on their sleeves.

Yao Ming Still Making People Look Small

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We’ve been here before. A few months ago we saw what happens when biggest of big men Yao Ming takes photos next to normal-sized folks. The result: Everyone looks tiny.

And if we ever needed confirmation, here’s a photo from China (from Adam Silver‘s Instagram, of all places) of Yao Ming hanging out with the 5-3 Muggsy Bogues, the shortest player in NBA history.

Yep, Yao’s still really tall.

(via Deadspin)

Draft Diaries: C.J. McCollum

By C.J. McCollum, for NBA.com

The Graduate

CJ McCollum and family

The proud graduate with his family.

When I saw the look on my Mom and Dad’s face as I crossed the stage at graduation, I knew all the hard work and late nights in the library were worth it! I graduated from Lehigh University a couple weeks ago, and not only did I feel a great sense of pride, but I had a lot of fun! My whole family was there to see me graduate. Mom, Dad, Grandma, Aunt, and almost all of my cousins were there. We did miss my brother, though, who is overseas playing professional basketball in Greece. I hadn’t seen my family since Easter, so it was nice to spend time with everybody and enjoy the end of a fun, exciting chapter and the start of a new one with them.

NBA TV was on-site documenting the whole thing. They started taping my family and me before we left the house in the morning and then captured more footage at graduation. They also interviewed my teammates and coaching staff at Lehigh. It’s supposed to air when it gets closer to the Draft. Oh, and I took a selfie with the school president as she handed me my diploma, which was hilarious – I hope NBA TV got that on film!

A lot of students and their families were asking for my picture and for an autograph. It took my Mom and I about an hour and a half to get from the field where we had graduation back to the car since I kept stopping to talk to people. It was definitely fun for me, especially because I can clearly remember a time when nobody wanted my autograph. In the last two years, as I’ve progressed in basketball and made more of a name for myself, I realize I get that request more and more often and I take a lot of pride in that.

The whole graduation experience was filled with mixed emotions. It was great to celebrate and get together with my friends one last time in a college setting. I felt content with my college career because I did just about everything I wanted to accomplish, except winning a National Championship of course. It was tough, but all of the hard work was definitely worth it!

Front Row At The Draft Lottery

I had a chance to go to the NBA Draft Lottery, which was awesome! I went with Anthony Bennett and Michael Carter-Williams, two fellow Draftees I’ve spent a lot of time with since I started training in Long Island. Not only were we sitting front row, but I also got the chance to meet Damian Lillard, who was the 2012-13 NBA Rookie of the Year. We’ve been in contact over the last few years, so it was good to finally meet him in person. I had a chance to speak to him privately about his experience transitioning from a smaller school to the NBA. I also was interested in hearing how he stayed consistent and dealt with the ups and downs of his rookie season.

After I spoke to him on the side, NBA TV taped Anthony, Michael and I picking Damian’s brain a little bit, asking all kinds of questions about life in the NBA.

Andre Drummond, Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, top picks in the 2012 NBA Draft, were there too and it was real nice to meet them. They were cool and happy to share their experiences with us.

We also met and shook hands with Commissioner David Stern and Deputy Commissioner, soon to be Commissioner Adam Silver. I hope to be shaking Commissioner Stern’s hand again very soon at the Draft!

I’ve always watched the NBA Draft Lottery on TV, but to be there live and in a situation where the Lottery will dictate which team will Draft me … now that’s very interesting.

Eye On The Prize

We’ve been tapering down our training a bit so nobody gets hurt, especially since we’re traveling to a lot of team workouts. Of course we’re still getting in our reps, but it’s just not as intense.

It has been nice to see all of the positive feedback from teams and the media. Sometimes I look at the player rankings, but I don’t read into it too much or let it alter my mindset. The path to the Draft is a long process and all you can control is how hard you work and how well you prepare yourself and I feel like I’ve done a good job with both of those things.

It’s actually been easy for me to stay focused and on the right track because I’ve been looking forward to this opportunity for a long time. I’m almost there, I can taste it … the Chicago Pre-Draft Camp, the NBA Draft Lottery, next thing I know it will be Draft night, so it’s all business right now. I have been able to enjoy myself a little bit though. Last week I took in a Yankee/Mets game, which was great.  Special thanks to the Lehigh Alum who took care of us at the game. We have a great alumni network and I’m proud to now be part of it! Aside from the baseball game and a barbeque on Memorial Day, it has been all about basketball!

As for my mindset now, I’m fully recovered from my injury, and my body feels strong. I have my college degree. I’m looking forward to the next opportunity and hope to reach my dream of not only getting drafted, but also becoming an NBA mainstay and building a legacy in the league. I’ve worked extremely hard, and I’m ready for the next step!

I’m not sure if I’ll be blogging again before the Draft, so make sure to follow me on Twitter @CJMcCollum and on instagram and vine @3JMCCOLLUM to catch the latest on my journey. Wish me luck!

A Night At The NBA Draft Lottery

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last night in New York City, a handful of NBA franchises looking for a little luck gathered in Times Square to try and beat the odds. That’s right, it’s the annual NBA Draft lottery, where the best of the worst vie for the first pick in the NBA Draft. I showed up and brought my cell phone camera along with me to see what went down behind the scenes.

Let’s get to the pictures …

photo 1

I arrived in Times Square right around 6:30 p.m. and fought my way over to the ABC Studios, where they shoot “Good Day America” or “Today This Morning” or whatever they call it — one of those morning shows that airs when I’m still asleep. There’s never really a good time to be in Times Square, because it is consistently crowded and busy and bustling, but 6:30 p.m. must be just about the worst time. Add in that it was humid and in the mid-80s today, and Times Square felt a bit like being stuck in a mosh pit. Or at the bottom of a mosh pit. (more…)