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Sal LaRocca, NBA Global Partnerships President

JR Sports Brief / JR
The Truth Network Radio
February 1, 2024 9:23 pm

Sal LaRocca, NBA Global Partnerships President

JR Sports Brief / JR

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February 1, 2024 9:23 pm

Sal LaRocca joined JR to discuss the exciting events surrounding NBA All-Star Weekend and how the jersey concepts came about. 

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But you're on a roll. The Ring of Comfort. Coming soon to a Super Bowl new you. It's the JR Sport Brief Show here with you on CBS Sports Radio. We now know that the NBA All-Star rosters, they all set. They are out. We're getting ready for the game next month in Indianapolis.

And I wanted to hit things from a different perspective. So joining us right now is the president of partnerships for the NBA. It's my main man, Sal LaRocca. Sal, how are you? I'm terrific, JR. It's nice to be with you. Absolutely.

Thank you for taking the time to hop on. I know you got a busy several weeks ahead. Things are always busy in the world of the NBA.

Things keep expanding globally. And I want to talk to you specifically about All-Star, but tell everybody exactly what you do with the NBA. So my my role at the NBA is I oversee essentially the commercial business with all of our partners. Our marketing partners, our merchandising partners, and really we're in the business of bringing to life the NBA through those partnerships. So when you see a T-shirt or a hat or you see a promotion with one of our marketing partners, say State Farm or folks like that, that's my my kind of area of the business.

Absolutely. And we know the All-Star break, the All-Star weekend, the All-Star game. That's a huge weekend, huge platform. It's always like a fun convention for the NBA.

We know about the three point contest, dunk, et cetera. What are some of the biggest elements of putting that weekend together with the partners that you work with? So really, for all of our partners, that weekend is essentially a way for all of them to bring their relationship with us to life. So if you pick a partner like Nike or any of the footwear providers, typically they're launching new shoes on all of the high profile players. So you'll see shoes that you've never seen in an NBA game before being launched during All-Star weekend. When you have our various marketing partners for the Saturday night festivities, the slam dunk, the three point. Those those are really the culmination of year long promotional activity highlighting those events at the weekend. And then you have the launch of different uniforms every year, as I'm sure you know, and different products that commemorate the fact that this All-Star game will be in Indianapolis and and Indiana, of course, being a hotbed of basketball for forever. In fact, we're pretty excited to be there.

And certainly our partners are excited to be there as well. Sala Rock is here with CBS Sports Radio. He's the president of Global Partnerships for the NBA. Anything specific that we can look forward to that All-Star weekend? You mentioned Indianapolis. It is a basketball hotbed. You can't go anywhere in the city without seeing a court or seeing the Pacers logo.

Anything specific we should look out for? I think one of the things that's going to be very interesting is we have All-Star Saturday night taking place at Lucas Oil Stadium. So the game will be, you know, at the at the arena on Sunday. But we we did that back in 2010 in Dallas, but it was reversed. So we had the game at Cowboy Stadium and we had All-Star Saturday at the arena.

We're switching it this year. I think it will be interesting for lots of people to see what we have in store on Saturday night, being in a much bigger venue with, you know, an opportunity to program very differently. So that's going to be very interesting. And I think, you know, for Herb Simon, who's the owner of the Pacers, he's, I think, the longest tenured governor in the NBA. He and his organization have been incredible to work with. So they've planned lots of activities, in fact, for the whole week. And we talk about it as if it's All-Star weekend, but it really is now activity that takes place over the course of the week leading up to the game. And and as you said, like Indiana has been really a hotbed for basketball forever.

So we're excited to be there and excited to bring the game to life to the to the fans in Indiana. Well, Sal, everybody takes a look at the NBA. We know it's a star driven league.

I don't think there is a professional sports league here in North America that highlights its players as much as the NBA. When it comes to your work and what you do with partnerships, how easy is that tie in between the superstars of the game, the LeBrons and, you know, Joel Embiid's of the world with corporate America? You know, the relationship that the NBA has had with its players, we think has been really one of the foundations for our global success. We've we've enjoyed an unbelievable working relationship with the Players Association for as long as I've been here.

And that's here over three decades now. And so when we have the relationship that we have with them and the players, as you know, are all brands unto themselves. They're business people.

They are entrepreneurs. So they are very connected to the business side of the sport and very willing to be participants with their individual sponsors and with league sponsors and partners, as well as they realize is part of the overall ecosystem of basketball, that they play a vital role in its global success. So we we tap into our relationship with the players on an ongoing basis, and they are always willing and really have been beneficiaries of being global icons. And working with the partners is a way for them to continue to grow their their individual brands on a global basis.

Sal LaRocque is here with us, the JR Sport re-show on CBS Sports Radio. This pops up a lot, whether it be a conversation on air or, you know, even in arenas when I'm running around south. What's the deal with so many uniforms? I understand the marketing, but every team that we used to have home whites and darks and now we have everything.

We're going to have this forever. What's up with the uniforms? Every team has a million uniforms now.

So it's not quite a million, but I appreciate the sentiment. Over time in sports, the jersey has been the signature product that fans have really assimilated to. And so fan demand, frankly, has been the catalyst for the expansion of on court uniforms.

And so we brought Nike in as a partner eight years ago. And they one of the things they wanted to do was take a fresh look at how we can bring various uniforms to the court. And they've created different programs around uniforms, giving players and teams an opportunity to express themselves very differently than just having the as you reference the home white or the road color. And so you've seen that evolution, I think, in all sports, and I think largely because fans have kind of demanded that variety. And when you go into multiple team venues, you'll see fans wearing a whole variety of jerseys. So I always think about it this way.

If you were a company making any kind of consumer product, you probably wouldn't just bring the same product to the market every year without evaluating, updating, innovating. And uniforms are no different. I can dig that, man. I certainly have my share. You know, I got them. I got them behind me hanging up in the office.

It's the chair. We have to get you a I see your office there and I think we have to get you some basketball jerseys to hang up behind you. Oh, I think I think behind me, the New York Knicks granted me one. Oh, I see. OK, in New York.

Thank you so much. The New York Knicks for keeping me updated and all set. And speaking of the All-Star jerseys, we know the game is coming up. How does that process go about who designs each individual All-Star game uniform? And I see this a lot as well.

And it to me, I don't particularly care for it. Just every team wearing its own individual, you know, uniform on court got kind of confusing. But who helps with that process? So we have a team of people in-house that work with Nike on the development and the design of the uniforms for All-Star, as well as all the other related on court apparel. And that process typically starts up to two years before the game is even being played. And the inspiration is typically drawn from the history of basketball in that city and what the cultural elements of that city kind of mean in connection with basketball.

So there's a pretty extensive creative process and a design review process. And as you said, at one point we had players wearing their individual team uniforms. But I think over time, I think players feel more special about being handed an All-Star jersey.

It's commemorative to them. And when you have different players from all over the world playing in the All-Star game, it is meaningful beyond just that game on that day. So we've had varieties of designs and in an effort to always pay homage to the city that the game is being played in and draw on different elements of what basketball means in that market.

Sal Araki here with us. President, Global Partnerships, the NBA. You talked about expansion and so many different players from all over the world, whether it's Nikola Jokic or Joel Embiid, Ayana Cetera-Kumpo.

Just the world has gotten bigger but smaller at the same time. How has that changed in how you guys market and sell the NBA and find partners from really all over the world with the players you have now? Yeah, I think, you know, for us, and it was really David Stern's vision many, many, many years ago, that basketball and specifically the NBA can truly be a global sport. And now when you see players in the league that certainly the three you just mentioned that are not only just players in the league.

I mean, they are at the top of the pyramid and really all time great players. So what that has done for us is, frankly, opened up the rest of the world to basketball and specifically the NBA. And unlike professional soccer, certainly European soccer, there are many leagues that are A-level leagues.

And basketball really is just us. So every great player from around the world aspires to play in the NBA. And obviously, you mentioned three, but we obviously have a rookie from France in the league this year. And that will unlock a lot of interest in the French market. And we obviously had Yao Ming from China over 20 years ago, and that unlocked a tremendous amount of interest in China. But the game has become global in a way that I think we've realized what David's vision was three-plus decades ago. And we're seeing the benefit of having truly a global sport that is played by boys and girls all over the world. Which, you know, for us, you know, there's 300 or so million people that live in the U.S., but the global population is 8 billion. So we think it's a huge opportunity for us on a worldwide basis.

Most definitely is. And we know All-Star Weekend, as you had mentioned, it's a big, huge opportunity for everybody to get involved, check out, and really just love the game. Tell everybody why they need to lock in to All-Star Weekend again, Sal, before we roll out. I think because, you know, it's the most fun type of atmosphere for superstar players to play with players that they don't get an opportunity to play with during the course of the season. It is a game that is both fun and competitive.

As you may know, we're back to the East-West matchup this year without doing a player draft. So there's more of a competitive side to that. And the players take a tremendous amount of pride in winning that game.

And, you know, when you have guys that are as competitive as professional athletes are, they want an opportunity to win everything. So it'll be fun. It'll be an opportunity, like I said, for the best players in the world to showcase their skills in a fun environment. Now, Sal, we got the rosters out, so I'm looking forward to the game.

And I really want to see what goes down in that All-Star Saturday night. Thank you for taking the time to hop on, Sal. Appreciate you. Thank you, JR.

I very much appreciate you having me. A Peanut Butter M&M's Production. In a world where Super Bowl winners get the world's admiration and a fancy ring, but the runners-up get nothing, one retired cop returns... That's one retired quarterback. Read the script.

Oh, sorry. One retired quarterback returns to claim what's his. Um, that's claim a ring with diamonds made from M&M's peanut butter. But you're on a roll. The Ring of Comfort. Coming soon to a Super Bowl new you. There's joy in every journey.

We'll be right back. Yep, Craybar does that.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-08 13:07:57 / 2024-02-08 13:13:50 / 6

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