As you may or may not know, last march, in what they called “Noche Latina”, the NBA (that’s the National Basketball Association for the uniformed out there) debuted an unprecedented campaign in which ten teams around the country wore jerseys featuring their team name in Spanish (the link to a press release can be found below), and the players actually wore them to play in…the WHOLE game.
Upon first seeing this, I thought it was some kind of joke. I’ve been watching the NBA for close to twenty years now and the Spurs have always been “the Spurs”….the Suns have always been “the Suns”, no one has a right to throw “Los Suns” on their jersey just because they thought it was cute or catchy. I was disgusted. In the whole NBA, there are only 24 Latino players. There are 29 TEAMS in the NBA, each having over 10 players. The Latino presence in the NBA is extremely small. Or so I thought….You see, it’s not the players that they did it for. Just like anything else, the NBA is a business, not just a sports league. They are out to sell as many tickets and make as much money as they can. How do you do that?….cater to our fans. Looking at cities like San Antonio, Miami, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Houston, what demographic makes up their fan base? That’s right, Latinos. Each of those cities has a huge resource of Latinos in their backyard, many of whom make up their fan base. All those teams and the NBA were doing when they announced “Noche Latina” is trying to put more people in the seats. And although the Latino influence is not great among the NBA’s players, it is huge among it’s fans. Looks like they knew what they were doing after all.