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Embracing the inevitable: Listing the least intrusive would-be jersey ads for the Indiana Pacers

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The Indiana Pacers entering into a corporate sponsorship deal with one of these five brands would be like watching Super Bowl commercials, entertaining even if still inconvenient.

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Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, Nate Taylor of the Indy Star reported that the Indiana Pacers are "supportive" of having an advertisement emblazoned on the team's jerseys and are "planning" to have a corporate sponsorship deal in place by the 2017-18 season.

"We are hopeful and look forward in talking to a number of folks who may have interest in that," Rick Fuson, the Pacers' chief operating officer, told the Indy Star. "I'm confident that many teams, if not most, will have a great sponsor on the uniform."

While the 2.5 by 2.5 inch logo patch will take up only a small piece of real estate on the front of the team's jerseys, its addition has the potential to provide a large stream of revenue to a franchise that continues to rank in the bottom third of the league in attendance.

Financial incentives aside, the decision to allow such brand placement will forever make any future corporate sponsor a third wheel in iconic moments.

Imagine if the NBA's three-year pilot program set to begin in 2017-18 had instead been in place during Indiana's consecutive runs to the Eastern Conference Finals. Rather than being free to simply gawk at Paul George's athletic dominance as he posterized the Miami Heat's Chris Anderson, eyes would be accosted by an advertisement photobombing the emotional experience.

Regardless of the potential for negative consumer reaction to the further commercialization of athletes, the prospective cash flow will undoubtedly be too rich to turn down. In light of the inevitable, here's a subjective list of possible sponsors whose brands, whether due to comedic effect or synergy between corporation and franchise, would be least intrusive if manifested on an Indiana Pacers jersey.

Steak 'n Shake

With 20 locations inside the Indianapolis city limits, it's no wonder that an image of the Midwest-founded fast food chain's hand dipped milkshakes adorns one of the Blue & Gold's goal stanchions at Banker Life Fieldhouse.

Take this play against the Orlando Magic, even though Paul George advances the ball to George Hill for the momentum swinging slam dunk, the giant sized chocolate milkshake is a scene-stealer. The only thing missing, quite obviously, is a 2.5 by 2.5 inch steakburger.

Sour Patch Kids

The soft and chewy lemon, lime, orange, and raspberry flavored candies should emerge as a preferred partner for the Pacers after Myles Turner and Joe Young made this comedy infused off-the-cuff commercial.

Of course, given that the Indiana Pacers lost seven games this season when leading after three quarters, Sour Patch Kids may need to change their slogan from "Sour Then Sweet" to "Sweet Then Sour."

Bass Pro Shops

The outdoor recreation retailer could not find a better group of spokesmen than the numerous avid fishermen found on the Blue & Gold. Last May, Paul George won a fishing tournament at Geist Reservoir, and from then on, teammates George Hill and Joe Young made it their mission to angle a larger catch.

Great fishing session and family time before I head to Vegas tomorrow to get that work in.#Blessed #ChargedUp

A video posted by joeyoung00 (@mightyjoyoung3) on

During Indiana's 2013-14 second half of the season swoon, a good ol' fishing trip was credited with setting the team's chemistry right after a Game 1 loss to the Washington Wizards, and Bass Pro Shops was there to echo the sentiment.

American Family Insurance

The insurance company's stated mission, to "inspire, protect and restore dreams," could double as Paul George's slogan.

After missing 76 during the the 2014-15 season, the three-time All-Star was one of only two players in the league to average at least 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and 1.5 steals and was one of only four players to log over 195 total miles (and the only one getting it done on a surgically repaired leg).

That a certain high-profile free agent also just happens to be the first NBA player to sign on with American Family as a brand ambassador should, of course, be perceived as nothing more than a happy coincidence (wink wink, nudge nudge).


If Indiana's jerseys are no longer going to remain commercial-free, then adding a corporate logo synonymous with racing and the Indy 500, such as Honda, Chevy, or Firestone, would arguably be the most welcome option next to the name "Pacers."

However, while those three brands may have the larger consumer demand, it is a given that the gold-ish hue of the synthetic motor oil company's branding would better complement the team's white and blue uniforms.

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All of this brings back up the intended purpose of logo patches, and why the Indiana Pacers would be interested in littering their jerseys with them. According to ESPN's Darren Rovell, the Philadelphia 76ers corporate sponsorship deal with StubHub is valued at $5 million a year over the NBA's three-year pilot program. If this is the price tag for advertising space on the jerseys of the team with the league's worst record, then consider how much more bargaining power the Pacers, who are averse to tanking and boast a highly marketable three-time All-Star, would have in negotiations.

Given the potential for large sums of revenue to be generated, being advertised to at the exact moment Paul George completes his next Vine-able highlight seems regrettably inevitable.

But if this is the "Manifest Destiny" of sports, as Adam Silver termed it while being interviewed by ESPN's Rachel Nichols, then the absurdity of inundating fans of the Indiana Pacers with commercials during TV timeouts, on the court, and now on jerseys while the league's salary cap skyrockets should be matched by the entertainment value of those ads.