Golden State ink lucrative jersey deal with Rakuten

Wednesday September 13 2017

Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors attempts a jump shot against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 1, 2017 in Oakland, California. PHOTO |  EZRA SHAW |

Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors attempts a jump shot against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 1, 2017 in Oakland, California. PHOTO | EZRA SHAW |  AFP

By AFP
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LOS ANGELES

As the NBA joins sports leagues around the world in allowing sponsors' names on jerseys, the Golden State Warriors have inked a logo deal with Rakuten worth a reported $60 million (50 million euros, Sh6 billion) over three years.

The deal with the reigning NBA champions is just one of the sports sponsorships pursued by Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce giant whose logo now graces the FC Barcelona kit.

Rakuten chief Hiroshi Mikitani told a press conference in Oakland, California, on Tuesday that he was "thrilled" to announce his partnership with the Warriors and the NBA.

Warriors chief marketing officer Chip Bowers said the team was attracted to Rakuten for its global reach and its local affiliation, with cash-back site Ebates headquartered in San Francisco.

"We really liked the fact that they had a local presence, so it's a global brand out of Tokyo, Japan, but to have Ebates headquartered here, to have Rakuten have offices here, it had a local feel to it, but it gave us a global audience to speak to," said the Warriors' chief marketing officer Chip Bowers.

Rakuten, which also owns messaging app Viber and ebook brand Kobo as well as J-League football club Vissel Kobe and pro baseball team Rakuten Golden Eagles — will have its red-and-black logo featured on the Warriors' white jerseys starting this season. A white logo will adorn the club's blue away jerseys. The badges will be on the front left — opposite the Nike logo.

The deal includes naming the team's practice facility the Rakuten Performance Centre.

USA Today reported that about half of all NBA teams have inked jersey sponsor deals since the league green-lighted the move.

ESPN reported the Warriors' agreement with Rakuten was worth $20 million (Sh2 billion) per year over three years.

That's twice as lucrative as the next-largest jersey sponsorship deal to date — the $10 million (Sh1 billion) per season agreement between the Warriors' vanquished finals foe the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Goodyear tire company.