Referees in the National Basketball Association will be sporting a slightly different look at the upcoming All-Star Game thanks to a new sponsorship deal.
A red patch with the logo of Emirates will appear on the front of referees’ jerseys, just below the NBA logo, starting on Sunday, February 18, in Indianapolis after the Dubai-based carrier struck a deal to become the Official Global Airline Partner of the NBA.
The patch will remain on the referees’ jerseys for at least the rest of the 2023-24 NBA season. Neither the NBA nor Emirates specified the length of the sponsorship deal in their respective press releases Thursday.
The logo patch will also appear on NBA G League referee jerseys starting with the 2024-25 season and on WNBA referee jerseys starting in the 2025 season.
Along with the referee jersey patch, Emirates also becomes the title sponsor of the NBA’s in-season tournament, the inaugural edition of which was held this season and was won by the Los Angeles Lakers. The tournament will be rechristened the Emirates NBA Cup when it returns in 2024-25 and have a new co-branded logo.
“We are proud to establish a global marketing partnership with the National Basketball Association to become its Official Global Airline Partner,” said His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates Group Chairman and Chief Executive, in a press release. “This collaboration will also see Emirates become the league’s first referee jersey patch partner and the inaugural title partner of the NBA Cup. With basketball’s popularity around the world, we are excited to work with one of the most globally recognized and prestigious professional leagues. The NBA is a valuable addition to our sponsorship portfolio as it allows us to connect with a vast global fanbase, including in the U.S., where the game is an integral part of the country’s sport culture.”
“Emirates is a world-class airline that shares our commitment to engaging fans around the world in new and creative ways,” added NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. “As basketball continues to be recognized as the fastest growing sport globally, this collaboration will showcase the excitement of the NBA to the millions of people who fly Emirates every year.”
As part of the sponsorship deal, Emirates logos will be seen in virtual in-arena signage and on top of the backboards during nationally televised NBA games. They’ll also have a presence at marquee league events around the All-Star Game, the NBA Finals and NBA Global Games. NBA content will be available through Emirates’ inflight entertainment system, and the two sides are collaborating on co-branded merchandise that will be available through the official Emirates Store.
This may be Emirates’ first big foray into the North American market, but they’re no strangers to sports sponsorship in Europe. They are the title sponsor of the Emirates FA Cup in England, and their logo appears on the front of the kits of high-profile clubs like Real Madrid, Arsenal, Olympique Lyonnais and AC Milan.