North American basketball’s NBA has agreed a multi-year global partnership deal with Dubai-based airline Emirates in which it will become the title sponsor of its new in-season tournament and the first-ever referee jersey patch partner of the league.
From next season, the competition will be renamed the Emirates NBA Cup.
The airline will be featured through a co-branded Emirates NBA Cup event logo, with co-branded promotion planned across the NBA’s social media channels and in-arena signage throughout the competition's semi-final and championship games starting next season.
The league debuted its in-season tournament this year, with the Los Angeles Lakers winning the inaugural edition in December.
The Emirates logo will also feature on referee jerseys in the NBA, women’s WNBA, and G League.
The NBA allowed teams to wear sponsored patches on their jerseys during the 2017-18 season – a move that generated significant additional commercial revenue for each franchise.
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NBA referees will debut the Emirates jersey patch at the All-Star game in Indianapolis on February 18, while G League officials will have the patch starting in the 2024-25 season and WNBA officials will wear it beginning with the 2025 campaign.
Emirates officially becomes the NBA's global airline partner and will get branding through virtual in-arena signage and on top of the backboard during nationally televised NBA games.
The airline will additionally offer in-flight NBA content on all flights, including long-form documentaries, player profiles, and interviews.
Emirates will also be part of marquee league events such as NBA Crossover – part of All-Star weekend – and the NBA Finals Legacy Project educational initiative.
The tie-up with the NBA adds another major property to Emirates’ global sports sponsorship portfolio that includes deals in soccer, tennis, golf, and rugby.
The company’s most notable deals include shirt sponsorships with European soccer clubs Real Madrid, Arsenal (recently extended until 2028), AC Milan, Benfica, and Lyon, and tennis’ ATP Tour.
Emirates is also the title sponsor of English soccer’s FA Cup knockout competition until the end of this season.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates group chairman and chief executive, said: “The NBA is a valuable addition to our sponsorship portfolio as it allows us to connect with a vast global fanbase, including in the US, where the game is an integral part of the country’s sport culture.”