Although sponsorships have always played an enormous role in ensuring professional stars of the NBA have the financial freedom to live comfortably after their short careers have ended, over the last 30 years, sponsorships have exploded in size, quality, and amount. Michael Jordan was one of the big names who envisioned the idea that sponsorships could become multi-billion dollar partnerships. For many, it was the iconic shooting guard who completely transformed how the NBA deals with sponsorships and how corporations and companies deal with individual players’ rights and overall team deals.
When Nike landed Jordan’s image rights, he was considered one of the most talented college players to have emerged in a generation. As we now know, and as it quickly transpired, he defined basketball in the 1990s and was one of the biggest global sports stars in the 1990s, alongside Tiger Woods and Mike Tyson as one of the biggest draws in American sports.
The Chicago Bulls legend, who is widely regarded as the greatest player to have graced the NBA, has a series of incredible business feats that have led to him becoming the first billionaire NBA player. His sponsorship deal with Nike is arguably the most successful sports sponsorship deal of all time, it continues to this day, and as part of the original terms, Jordan was given the freedom to create his own design, which is where the billion-dollar idea of the Air Jordan sneaker came from and continues to sell well, nearly four decades later.
Throughout his decorated and colorful playing career, Michael Jordan was a keen gambler, often frequenting high-roller tables, but also someone who enjoyed playing poker both in the casino and with friends. During the 1992 Olympics, the incredible “Dream Team” won the Olympic gold medal and was considered the most remarkable basketball team ever assembled; Jordan reportedly played poker with his fellow All-Stars every night. During this period, he developed a keen eye for the game and quickly understood the best starting poker hands and how to win.
Although Jordan’s love of gambling and poker was often reported on in the media, it didn’t do much to hinder the money he was receiving from a slew of lucrative sponsorship deals. While Nike and Gatorade occasionally commented on the public image, and for him to take it down a notch when he would play big hands of poker and other casino games, it had little to no impact on his sponsorship deals. Air Jordan footwear still sells well worldwide, over two decades since he retired.
Current Climate Of Sports Gambling & NBA Sponsorships
Multiple sports betting companies have agreements with the NBA to sponsor the league. More recently, the rules regarding gambling companies providing sponsorships for individual players have been relaxed. Therefore, some of the legendary players over the last generation, such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James, have exclusively made their money through individual brands and sponsorships with colossal sporting brands such as Nike.
While fans debate who is better between Jordan and LeBron, there’s no disputing that they’re two of the best in the NBA at maximizing the value of their sponsorships. However, sports gambling is such a new area, especially for individual players, that it’s hard to assess the impact currently, but it’s going to inevitably become a much bigger question within the next few years.
Still, given the relaxation of these rules and the immense potential of gambling to generate billions in profit, many analysts and investors predict this will only continue to snowball given that the NBA is now allowing players to form these connections with some of the big sports betting and gambling companies currently operating in America, this impact is set to become more profound over the next couple of decades. If you like, you can try one of the best foreign Skrill casino.
Players in other professional sports have already made big moves in the world of sports gambling sponsorships. Wayne Gretzky and Connor McDavid are two massive stars of the NHL who have recently announced colossal business deals with gambling companies, and this will undoubtedly have an impact on how NHL gambling is perceived moving forward.
Given that the US has started to approach gambling more subjectively and digital gambling is becoming such a vast market, the next step for the industry is to establish strong partnerships with big names in the game to create further legitimacy and visibility to a broader audience.
Although gambling sponsorships and advertisements are often a cause of heated debate, there seems to be a balance that has now occurred between regulators and gambling providers in the world’s largest economy. Now that there’s been a suitable middle ground and clarity between all parties concerned, it’ll be intriguing to see how the impact of sports gambling on athlete sponsorship deals influences the NBA and the gambling sector moving forward.
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