The NBA has become a premier avenue for brand partnerships, leveraging its global reach and diverse fan base to attract a broad spectrum of sponsors. As brands tap into the league’s dynamic mix of live events, digital initiatives, and international games, they unlock powerful opportunities for connecting with audiences across the globe.

This year's NBA report dives into a landscape transformed by strategic innovation and record-breaking performance metrics, revealing not only the growth of traditional market leaders but also the emergence of new players who redefine fan engagement. Moreover, shifts in consumer preferences towards healthier options and cutting-edge technology are reshaping sponsorship portfolios, and innovative brand engagement strategies are setting new standards in how sports can enhance brand visibility and consumer connection.

With the $1.5 billion in team sponsorship revenue and unprecedented attendance at NBA games, we’re excited to present our NBA Marketing Partnerships 2023–24 report, giving you tools to help drive enhanced visibility and engagement in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Authored by SponsorUnited’s Marketing Research and Analytics teams, the report encompasses more than 9,864 brands, 269 athletes, and 48,485 social posts from April 25, 2023 to April 25, 2024.

NBA All-Star Weekend is more than just a series of games; it's an opportunity for sponsors to showcase innovation and highlight new sports sponsorships. This year's NBA ASG Weekend featured not only a blend of high-octane action, but cutting-edge technology and strategic collaborations that set new benchmarks in sports entertainment.

Ruffles All-Star Celebrity Game: A Fusion of Fun and Fierceness
The weekend kicked off with the Ruffles All-Star Celebrity Game, where the traditional basketball court transformed into a vibrant spectacle with LED lights. A unique twist came with the introduction of the Crunch Time, where points were doubled for a designated period, adding an extra layer of excitement and strategy to the game. The Flamin’ Hot Challenge took the competition beyond traditional boundaries, with players engaging in a shoot-around contest. Winners enjoyed the privilege of having their points doubled for the first five minutes of a quarter, a rule that injected an extra dose of adrenaline into the game.

Panini Rising Stars: Honoring the Future of Basketball
The Panini Rising Stars event marked a significant milestone as Panini took over the title rights, succeeding the Jordan Brand. The event was not just a showcase of young talent but also a celebration of sports memorabilia, with attendees receiving Rising Stars card packs. Visible both on broadcast and in person, Panini's presence underscored the evolving landscape of sports partnerships and fan engagement.

HBCU Classic Presented by AT&T: Celebrating Heritage and Talent
The HBCU Classic, presented by AT&T for the third consecutive year, saw Winston-Salem State take on Virginia Union in a game that was much more than a competition. It was a celebration of history, talent, and the enduring spirit of the HBCUs. Partners like Foot Locker, Google Pixel, Starry Soda, and Under Armour played pivotal roles as associate partners, highlighting the collective effort to honor the rich heritage of these institutions.

State Farm All-Star Saturday Night: A Spectacle of Skill and Showmanship
State Farm All-Star Saturday Night lived up to its reputation as a highlight of the weekend. From the Kia Skills Challenge, to the Starry 3 Point Contest and the electrifying Steph vs. Sabrina 3 Point Challenge, the evening was a testament to the players' skill and creativity. The AT&T Slam Dunk contest brought fans to their feet with displays of gravity-defying athleticism.

The 73rd NBA All-Star Game: Breaking Records and Forging New Partnerships

The 73rd NBA All-Star Game was not just a game; it was a historic event that shattered records with a final score of 211–186. The game also marked the beginning of new partnerships, most notably with Emirates as the Official Airline Partner of the NBA. The visibility of Emirates—along with the announcement of their title sponsorship for the Emirates NBA Cup—underscored the global appeal and reach of the NBA. SoFi's introduction as the Official Bank of the NBA, with its branding projected on the playing surface, highlighted the seamless integration of finance and sports entertainment.

NBA Crossover: Engaging Fans Beyond the Court
The NBA Crossover event offered fans an immersive experience, with sponsorship activations from DoorDash, AT&T, Peloton, and Starry Soda. This multi-day interactive fan event showcased the NBA's commitment to engaging with its audience through innovative and interactive means, highlighting the role of technology and digital engagement in modern sports.

We’re nearly two months into the NBA and NHL 2023–2024 seasons, and so far, more than 4,000 brands have purchased a sponsorship or media deal across both leagues. Of these companies, 59% have at least one sponsorship and 24% have two or more. Let’s take a closer look at the breakdown of these deals within these two fan-favorite sports. 

More than 1,800 brands currently have a NHL sponsorship at the league or team level. Team sponsorship revenue rose 21% last year, to $1.28B—notably outpacing growth in all other major pro sports leagues, including the NFL. Meanwhile, brands continue to expand their footprint within the league: as of November 29th, Casamigos Tequila, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, Graybar, Jersey Mike’s, and Tostitos take top billing as the brands with the highest increase in sponsorships so far this season. As partnerships with an environmental / philanthropic theme become more prevalent, more than 210 brands have supported a local community or cause already this season—led by Air Canada, whose deals are nearly all with Canadian teams.

Within the NBA, just over 1,400 brands have a sponsorship thus far–of which more than 200 have inked a deal this year for the first time. Pluto TV made the biggest splash of all new entrants, thanks to its partnerships with four teams—the Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Dallas Mavericks. On the asset front, 650 brands, led by the financial sector, have purchased interior signage, making it the most popular asset through November. Ribbon Board Digital Ad, Digital Ad on Video Board, and Courtside Apron Digital Ads comprise the leading three interior signage assets, followed by seven more digital interior signage assets to round out the top 10—reflecting the ongoing digital transformation within the NBA.

Follow us on social media and make sure you’re signed up for our newsletter to uncover partnership news across major pro sports leagues and teams. 

The 2023–2024 NBA season kicked off in action-packed fashion earlier this week, as the Denver Nuggets played the LA Lakers and the Phoenix Suns took on the Golden State Warriors. This season promises plenty of off-court action too, as a slew of new sponsors enter the league. 

Earlier this month, the NBA welcomed Clutch as its Official Online Car Retailer in Canada. The partnership tipped off in Toronto with the transformation of an iconic red flatbed truck into a portable basketball court, offering fans the chance to take a “Clutch shot” and win prizes including gift cards and co-branded basketballs. In the upcoming season, Clutch will engage Canadian fans with nationwide contests—including opportunities to win trips to the 2024 NBA Finals—as well as digital programming across NBA Canada and Clutch’s social media channels reaching a global audience through unique collaborations.

The league also furthered its international reach across the Atlantic this month with the announcement of Revolut as the presenting sponsor of The NBA Paris Game 2024 in January. The agreement also sees the global financial superapp become the official money management partner of the NBA in France, Germany, Ireland, Spain, and the UK. 

Meanwhile, the NBA's partnership with Experience Abu Dhabi–one of the sponsors of the two pre-season Abu Dhabi Games early this month–nods to the league’s efforts to raise its profile and grow its fan base in the UAE.

Chinese appliance and electronics manufacturer Hisense has cemented its role as the Official TV and Home Appliance Partner of the league (announced last April) with its  "Upgrade Season" campaign, unveiled on October 10th. The brand is teaming up with NBA All-Star Jayson Tatum to offer fans the chance to “level-up” their gaming environments and home entertainment spaces with deals, exclusive promotions, and the chance to win a trip to NBA All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis in February.

On the fitness front, Peloton became the official fitness partner of the NBA and WNBA in a multi-year partnership announced on October 18th, adding an additional health and wellness dimension to the league. The collaboration will make NBA League Pass, the league's premium live game subscription service, available to stream across compatible Peloton devices in the fitness platform's new entertainment hub, which will launch this season–a first-of-its-kind Peloton offering that will foster one-on-one engagement with basketball fans.

Stateside, Nike–a global marketing partner of the NBA since 1992–continues to dominate the league sponsorship landscape and team up with rising stars, having recently signed 13 rookies including Victor Wembanyama, the top pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. 

The WNBA's 2023 season—which saw a 31% increase in sponsorship and media deals—has been marked by strategic moves and lucrative partnerships, cementing its position as a trailblazing league in women's sports. As the season winds down with the current championship series between the Las Vegas Aces and the New York Liberty, let’s take a look at some of this season’s highlights. 

The league’s multiyear partnership with Scripps Sports (ION TV), announced last April, was a game-changer that both broadened the league’s reach, and guaranteed fans across the country uninterrupted access to the on-court action via a consistent national broadcast platform.

One of the season’s standout moments was the WNBA's return to ABC, where it averaged viewership of 627,000K, marking the league’s most-viewed regular season on the network in 11 years. Notably, the 2023 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game on ABC literally stole the show, averaging 850K viewers to become the most-watched all-star expo in 16 years. Beyond its burgeoning TV audience, the WNBA also witnessed its highest total attendance in 13 years, with 1.6M fans showing up to support their favorite teams.

On the sponsorship front, the restaurant sector has emerged as a formidable player in the WNBA, demonstrating its commitment to supporting women's sports with the most new sponsorship and media deals this year at 16, up from seven in 2022. The industry’s significant investment testifies to the WNBA's growing appeal and ability to attract a wide array of businesses as partners.

The WNBA's impressive roster of 2023 sponsorships underscores its forward-thinking approach. Partnerships with industry giants like Sony Interactive Entertainment, CarMax (Official Auto Retailer), and Discount Tire (Official Tire Retailer) have strengthened the league's marketability and enhanced the overall fan experience, elevating the WNBA to new heights. At the WNBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas July 15th, Sony gave fans the opportunity to play PlayStation during the surrounding All-Star events. The league's growing ability to secure these high-profile deals is a clear indicator of its thriving ecosystem and bright future in the dynamic women’s sports world.

Get ready, basketball fans: the hotly anticipated NBA Draft tips-off tonight, with the first round taking center stage on ESPN and ABC at 8pm EST, brought to you by State Farm, a NBA league sponsor since 2010.

Teams are gearing up to make it an unforgettable evening for their loyal fans, in part by hosting draft parties with the support of dedicated sponsors. The Dallas Mavericks are partnering with Choctaw Casinos & Resorts to create an electric atmosphere for fans at the Echo Lounge in their hometown, and the San Antonio Spurs have teamed up with Ticketmaster to put on a show-stopping event. Meanwhile, the Orlando Magic is joining forces with Starry Soda to add a refreshing twist to their watch party. According to our 2022-23 NBA Marketing Partnerships Report, PepsiCo’s fast-rising soft drink brand boasts the largest increase in sponsorship asset volume among both league and non-league partners from 2021 to 2022.

Victor Wembanyama, the 7’2” NBA draft prospect projected to be the top pick, currently holds a single endorsement deal with Nike. That could change literally overnight: the French-born phenom, widely considered one of the top players of his generation, will no doubt be fielding a veritable mountain of endorsement offers as he officially becomes the NBA’s newest potential superstar.

Rivaling Wembanyama in stature, Chet Holmgren recently took the endorsement world by storm, despite a season-ending injury before his NBA debut: in the past 12 months, the 2022 draft’s second overall pick added more brands to his portfolio than any other league player. Holmgren’s outstanding on-court potential mirrors his rising profile on social media, where he’s already ranked 14th among NBA athletes on TikTok. Will Wembanyama also take to TikTok (and other platforms) to grow his personal brand as his sponsorships skyrocket? Hopeful for a full, healthy season for both players, we expect Wembanyama to surpass Holmgren in deals as he quickly becomes one of the NBA’s top endorsers.

The NBA Finals tip off tonight, when the Denver Nuggets–making their first-ever appearance in the hotly anticipated championship series–will face off against the Miami Heat in what’s expected to be a highly competitive matchup. Last year’s Warriors – Celtics finals was the most watched final in three years and the 2023 NBA Finals are gearing up to top the average of 12.4M viewers from last season.

The Denver Nuggets have been on a tear during the regular season and playoffs—led by Jamal Murray and reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jovic—and have also been racking up a slew of sponsorships along with wins. A whopping 42% of the team’s 57 deals—which include partnerships with Ball Corporation, PointsBet, and Toyota—are new this year.Given the Nuggets’ stellar performance this season, sponsors will no doubt keep piling on.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo will no doubt continue wowing fans as the Miami Heat returns to the winner-takes-all series after losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020. AT&T, Bacardi, and health insurer Florida Blue are just a few of the team’s impressive 75 deals.

On the social media front, the Heat’s gross following of 26.5M outpaces the Nuggets’  6M by more than 4x, while the team’s 1.4M in total engagement compared to the Nuggets’ 854K. Though the Heat ranks just 5th among all Miami market properties by sponsorship volume, the team leaves them all in the dust by follower count, with a whopping 17.4M more than the second-place Ultra Music Festival.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the top talents to watch as the Finals heat up:

Nikola Jokic: The reigning NBA MVP, the Nuggets’ star center and triple-double machine ranks among the league’s most dominant players. Strangely, the Serbian superstar currently lacks a sponsorship deal, though that may soon change as savvy brands jump at the chance to partner with one of the biggest stars in the league.

Jamal Murray: A dynamic scorer and capable playmaker, the Nuggets’ Canadian All-Star guard has 3 partnerships with New Balance, KFC, and Starry Soda, engaging 84K followers across 6 posts.

Jimmy Butler: Nicknamed “Jimmy Buckets,” the Heat’s charismatic All-Star forward is one of the NBA’s best two-way players, able to score in each aspect of the game and excel as a lockdown defender. Michelob Ultra, Li-Ning, and The Moinian Group comprise 3 of his 5 sponsorships, while his 17 posts have garnered 1M in engagement.

Bam Adebayo: A rising NBA star, the Heat’s young center has emerged as both a versatile defender who can guard multiple positions and a promising offensive player. The New Jersey native partners with Pollo Tropical and Taylor Sports Group, garnering engagement of 117K with 4 posts.

Professional basketball in America is hotter than ever–and if this year is any indication, its momentum shows no sign of stopping.

The NBA set records for total attendance, average attendance, and sellouts in the 2022-23 regular season, while a record 791 sellouts shattered the previous mark of 760 set four years ago. To top it off, an ever-growing number of fans filled stadiums to a record 97% capacity.

These numbers are music to sponsors’ ears. NBA team sponsorship revenue skyrocketed to a staggering $1.4 billion this season–a robust 10.5% increase from the prior year, adding more than $100 million to team revenues. The league and its teams inked 2,430 sponsorships, a 3.5% increase versus the previous season.

Players are using their social media status as a springboard to build their own brands and woo more sponsors–as they should, considering league players average almost 95K in total engagement per deal, more than 2.5x that of the average major pro sport athlete. Fueled by their rising profiles on social, league athletes are extending their reach far beyond the court, adding a whopping 28 categories to their brand sponsorship portfolios in just one season. Seven of the top 10 most socially engaging teams were playoff contenders this season–driving fan engagement and illustrating the snowballing clout of social media in professional sports.

Meanwhile, prime opportunities continue to surface for potential sponsors, as searches for NBA teams on the SponsorUnited platform soared, increasing almost fivefold compared to last season–a clear sign brands are keen on a sponsorship slam dunk. This year, the league went without a Quick Serve Restaurant (QSR) partner for the first time since 2009, while PepsiCo’s new Starry beverage brand became the NBA’s official soft drink, and tequila brands took the NBA by storm. The Knicks’ search for a jersey patch sponsor–at a reported $30M price tag–went unfulfilled, leaving the door open for possible contenders next season.

Against pro basketball’s increasingly dynamic backdrop, we’re excited to unveil the 2022-2023 NBA Marketing Partnerships Report. Authored jointly by SponsorUnited’s Marketing Research & Insights, Analytics and Marketing teams, it delivers an in-depth analysis of more than 2,800 brands, 240 athletes, and over 37,800 social posts between September 2022 and April 2023, from 2018 through 2023.

Basketball fans around Europe are eagerly anticipating the upcoming EuroLeague Final Four 2023, set to take place at Zalgirio Arena in Kaunas, Lithuania May 19th – May 21st. With its impressive capacity of 15,500 attendees, the arena will be buzzing with excitement as the stage is set for the continent’s most prestigious basketball competition.

Last year’s champion, Anadolu Efes, won’t be defending their title this time around, but three formidable teams have qualified for the Final Four again: Real Madrid (15 sponsors), FC Barcelona (8 sponsors), and Olympiacos (22 sponsors). Real Madrid, with their rich basketball history, leads the pack with an impressive record of 10 EuroLeague titles. Olympiacos follows closely with three championships, while FC Barcelona has secured the title twice. Making their first appearance in the final round, AS Monaco Basket (21 sponsors) is eager to make a mark in this prestigious tournament.

The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague holds a special place in European basketball, with 19 teams from 10 different countries competing in the tournament. Turkish Airlines has been the exclusive title sponsor of the EuroLeague since 2010, adding prestige and support to this premier event. The tournament also boasts its own brand and logo for the semi-finals and finals, creating an attractive platform for sponsors to secure their place in the final stage.

The EuroLeague also has regional sponsors who bring their support to specific countries. Brands like Bwin gain exposure in games played in Greece, while Domino’s Pizza and Nesine take center stage in Turkey. MaxBet makes its mark in Serbia, and Betano captures attention in Germany. Furthermore, Spalding, a key sponsor, plays an important role by providing the official balls and basket stanchion units for the games.

The EuroLeague Final Four 2023 promises to be a basketball extravaganza with a rich history, prestigious teams, and the support of sponsors like Turkish Airlines and regional brands, the tournament showcases the pinnacle of European basketball talent. As fans eagerly await the semi-final matchups and the crowning of the next EuroLeague champion, the sport’s global community will come together to celebrate the essence of the game. Get ready for an unforgettable display of skill, passion, and competition in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four.

Fueled by its record-breaking 2022 season–its most-watched in 14 years–the WNBA has set its sights on global expansion to grow its reach and audience. As a preview to its 2023 season tip off on May 19th, the league made history last weekend with its first-ever international game at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena in Canada. Presented by Tangerine Bank, the milestone matchup garnered significant support from over 15 sponsoring brands, including notable names like RE/MAX, Air Canada, and Bell Media with the most assets.

This groundbreaking game both showcased the league’s commitment to conquering new frontiers, and highlighted the burgeoning partnerships between brands and the WNBA. Case in point: the multiyear deal the league struck in 2021 with Amazon, granting it exclusive global streaming rights for the league, including regular season games and the Commissioner’s Cup on Prime Video. The partnership marked the first time Amazon secured streaming rights in pro basketball.

With a sold-out crowd in attendance, the Canadian game was a resounding success–reminding fans exactly why the league grew its viewership by a remarkable 19% last year. The WNBA’s surge in popularity has also translated into substantial business opportunities for its athletes, with SponsorUnited tracking an astounding 1,000% increase in deals between brands and players since 2019.

As the trailblazing league keeps scoring slam dunks on and off the court and growing its fan base in tandem, more influential brands will no doubt come calling–joining top-tier sponsors like Coinbase, Google, State Farm, AT&T, Starry, and Doordash, all of which made their presence known within the WNBA in 2022.

One deal already making headlines this year: late last month, the league announced a multiyear agreement with the E.W. Scripps Company to televise Friday night games during the regular season on ION, an entertainment network that reaches every U.S. TV over-the-air and on all major pay TV services. With the deal, the WNBA becomes the first sports property to air on ION.

The perennially popular NBA Playoffs kick off this Saturday, with 16 teams vying for the chance to ultimately take home an NBA championship ring. As basketball fans nationwide gear up for the 8 action-packed showdowns, here’s a snapshot of the league sponsorship landscape during the 2022-2023 regular season.

More than 2.7K brands bought sponsorships or media within the NBA, while each team averaged 76 sponsorship deals. Venue products/services, television, interior signage, and digital content led the list of most frequently bought assets.

The top 5 most active categories within the league this year were:

  1. Alcohol
  2. Financial
  3. Technology
  4. Auto
  5. Non-Alcoholic Beverages

Michelob Ultra, Budweiser, and Hennessy–the top 3 brands within the Alcohol category–have multi-year deals with both the league and multiple teams. Meanwhile, newer names including Bud Light Seltzer, Sire Spirits, and Cutwater Spirits emerged as the top 3 fastest growing brands within the category in terms of activations.

With 7 sponsorships each, Kenda Tires and Nexen Tires grew their footprints more than any other brands within the NBA this year–tying with Starry Soda–which became a league sponsor this season. Both tire companies leveraged courtside apron ads and basket stanchion digital ads the most within these deals.

The NBA engaged 86M users across all social media platforms this season with 35K total posts. The most engaging–a co-branded Instagram post by the Golden State Warriors with Japanese fintech company Rakuten, of Steph Curry showing off his team’s new NBA City Edition uniform–garnered engagement of nearly 1.1M. The Warriors launched the uniform as a part of the team’s #Empowered campaign, a celebration of women at the intersection of court, community and culture in the Bay Area. Through the campaign, the Warriors and Rakuten donated over $25K to the Women’s Sports Foundation.

NBA All-Star Weekend kicks off tomorrow in Salt Lake City, marking the 30th anniversary of the last NBA All-Star Game played in Utah’s capital. Kia, a NBA partner since 2008, will be the game’s presenting sponsor.

The Salt Lake City market provides opportunities for brands to buy sponsorships across various different leagues. With 13 deals, Coca-Cola leads the list of brands actively buying sponsorships in Salt Lake City, the 24th largest market in the US by population.

In traditional media (TV & radio only), Ford Motor Company and Toyota claim the top spot with 7 deals each. Personal injury law firm Siegfried & Jensen earns the #2 spot with 6 partnerships, and Smith’s Food and Drug and Hyundai Motor tie for third place with 5.

With 9.2M followers, the NBA’s Utah Jazz presents a singular opportunity for brands eager to capitalize on the team’s social media clout. The NBA team has secured 65+ sponsorships this season, engaging 1M fans and growing its followers by 17% year over year. Other properties with notable social followings in the SLC market include KSL 5 Utah (News Sation), SpaceStation Gaming (Esports), and Real Salt Lake (MLS).

Kia is the official vehicle of the NBA Playoffs, NBA All-Star Game, NBA Finals, and the NBA Draft. The South Korean carmaker also serves as a presenting partner of TNT’s “Inside the NBA," and as the title partner for the Kia NBA monthly awards and end-of-season performance awards. Seven of Kia’s top 10 partners (ranked by total assets) are NBA properties.

All eyes will be on Salt Lake City Sunday evening, as the 2023 Kia NBA All-Star MVP is awarded the Kobe Bryant Trophy. Other titles up for grabs during the weekend include the AT&T Slam Dunk Champion, Starry 3-Point Contest Champion, Kia Skills Challenge Champion, Clorox Rising Stars MVP, Clorox Clutch Challenge Champion, and the Ruffles NBA All-Star Celebrity Game MVP.

Through its partnership with the NBA and its teams, Kia generated a social media engagement of 376K across 211 posts. The LA Clippers–who will be represented by eight-time All-Star Paul George–engaged 142K people with 70 Kia-sponsored posts. Overall, the NBA is responsible for 8% of Kia’s total social engagement. There’s no doubt millions of basketball fans will engage across social media during Salt Lake City’s star-studded NBA weekend.

The 2022/23 NBA season–the league’s 77th–tipped off on Tuesday with a marquee doubleheader. As fans gear up for a slew of exciting match-ups over the next six months, here’s a glimpse at how the league’s teams and players fared on social media during the offseason.

NBA teams stayed active with 3,187 sponsored posts across 366 deals since mid-June, engaging over 18.7M followers–an average of 51K per deal and 5.6K per post.

Top 5 offseason posts (by total engagement):

  1. Bibigo x LA Lakers - 526K
  1. UCLA Mattel Children's x LA Lakers - 514K
  1. Rakuten x Golden State Warriors - 333K
  1. Oracle x Golden State Warriors - 227K
  1. Coinbase x Chicago Bulls - 197K

The Lakers and the Warriors dominated social media during their time off, generating a combined 42% of the NBA's total engagement. The Lakers accounted for 20%,  engaging 3.7M fans across 103 posts–40 of which were with Korean food company Bibigo, the team’s jersey patch sponsor. Five of the NBA’s 10 most engaging posts were Lakers’ branded posts, 3 of which were with Bibigo.

Engaging 4.1M followers across 291 posts–192 with Oracle–the Warriors were responsible for 22% of the NBA’s social engagement since last season ended. The team averaged engagement of 415K per brand, eclipsing the Lakers’ 234K per partner. The Warriors’ offseason social activity with Oracle amassed over 1M more engagements than any other NBA partnership, due in large part to its plethora of posts.

NBA players were also busy on social media during the offseason, as Lebron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo proved why they’re among the four highest paid players in the league.

Top 5 NBA player offseason posts (by total engagement):

  1. Lobos 1707 Tequila x Lebron James - 1.8M
  2. Sports Illustrated x Lebron James - 1.121M
  3. Brown & Brown Custom Clothiers x Giannis Antetokounmpo - 1.118M
  4. Zion Williamson x Jordan Brand - 585K
  5. RIMOWA x Lebron James - 579K

Athletes with supersize social media clout naturally command much bigger deals. Here are the NBA giants with the highest-earning endorsement portfolios, and some of their deep-pocketed brand partners.

Estimated NBA athlete endorsement portfolio earnings (Source: Sportico)

  1. Lebron James - est. $75M—, GMC, Ruffles
  2. Kevin Durant - est. $48M—NBA Top Shop, Weemaps, Nike
  3. Steph Curry - est. $45M—Rakuten, FTX, Literati
  4. Giannis Antetokounmpo - est. $44M—WhatsApp, Nike, Breitling
  5. Russell Westbrook - est. $25M—Jordan Brand, Converse, Varo

    NBA Finals Matchup

    June 16, 2022

    The Golden State Warriors won their 4th NBA Finals in eight years after taking down the Boston Celtics in a 103-90 game six victory. While the Warriors may have won the finals on the court, how did this year's NBA Finals contenders match up in the sponsorship / media scene off the court?

    The Golden State Warriors have a combined social following of 46.6M to the Boston Celtics 19.6M across all major social media platforms (TW, IG, FB, TT.) Instagram is the top social platform for the Warriors, hosting 50% of the team's total following. They also saw a 19% YOY increase in total followers, which was one of the highest jumps in the NBA. The Celtics’ top social platform is Facebook, and the team saw a 5% YOY increase in total following. Interestingly enough, both teams lead their markets, as both teams rank #1 in total following across any properties in their respective markets.

    The Golden State Warriors come out on top in partnership deals with over 400+ brand partners and 80+ sponsors during the 2021-22 NBA season. 46 of these brands leveraged the team’s social media platforms, and averaged 50+ unique sponsored posts per brand. When ranked by number of assets, the Warriors’ top partners for the season were Chase, Kaiser Permanente, Rakuten, HPE - Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, and Oracle. The Boston Celtics still had quite the portfolio, eclipsing 350+ brand partners and 60+ sponsors throughout the 2021-22 NBA season. 38 of Boston’s partners leveraged the team's social media, with an average of 45+ sponsored posts per brand. Top partners for the Boston Celtics this season were TD Bank, JetBlue, Putnam Investments, New Balance, and Xfinity.

    NBA X Hennessy

    June 2, 2022

    The NBA and Hennessy, the leagues first Global Spirits Partner, partnered to unveil two one-of-kind basketball courts in May 2022. One court located in the front of the National Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall in Taiwan, and a floating basketball court located off the coast of Sydney, Australia.

    Download the SponsorUnited NBA 2021-22 Marketing & Partnerships Annual Report for more insights.

    NBA X Hennessy

    NBA teams surpassed $1.2B in sponsorship revenues, achieving 50% growth over the 2020-21 season.

    This week the NBA 2021-22 Marketing & Partnerships Annual Report was released. The report is fortified by data from over 6,000 NBA sponsorship and media deals from the 2021-22 NBA season. It highlights the impact of team revenue in addition to a comprehensive dive into marketing and partnerships across the league, all 30 teams, players, categories, assets, and brands.

    Key findings from the report include:

    • NBA teams surpassed $1.2B in sponsorship revenues, achieving 50% growth over the 2020-21 season.Nearing $450M in additional spending on team sponsorships.
    • Revenue was driven by a significant increase in spending across the Sports Betting and Financial categories, and the emergence of, which had no NBA deals in 2020-21, launched 28 individual deals this season.
    • NBA players continue to expand as a platform for brands, as they saw a 46% increase in deals from the prior year. Player endorsements now represent 30% of total NBA brand deals.
    • Five of the top six searched companies on the SponsorUnited platform by NBA executives were cryptocurrency brands (FTX,, Coinbase, Voyager, Ankr.)
    • Cryptocurrency had a higher search volume than the entire alcohol category. In fact, not one alcohol brand ranked within the top most searched 50 brands.
    • Performance on the court had the most direct correlation with fan interest.
    • Playoff-eligible teams increased their social following during the season at a 150% higher rate than teams that missed the playoffs.
    • Despite missing the playoffs in his 19th season, LeBron James' social following saw a massive increase of 22M new followers, which is more than 25 individual NBA teams.In fact, he alone has more Instagram followers than every NBA team’s total social following across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok.

    “The NBA saw significant growth by capitalizing on a perfect storm of high-growth industries like Crypto and Tech aggressively entering the market with teams having highly visible platforms and innovative marketing solutions that allowed brands to tell their story in compelling ways” said SponsorUnited President & Founder, Bob Lynch.

    For more key insights and access to the complete report, download the SponsorUnited NBA 2021-22 Marketing & Partnerships Annual Report at


    This report was compiled using SponsorUnited’s proprietary platform data from September 2021 through May 2022.

    *Social Data Compiled from Property or Person-Controlled Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn Accounts and Social Activity.

    With 28 new deals in the NBA alone, was the top expanding brand in the league, going from 0 to 28 deals in less than a season. really separated themselves from the pack as the 2nd most expanding brand only increased their deals by 6 from 0 the year before (Take 5 Oil Change).

    Take a deeper dive into the assets tied to’s 28 NBA deals.

    Across the 28 new sponsorships, has over 130 total assets. 79% of their deals have TV-Visible signage which was led by the courtside apron & basket stanchion digital ads which are usually run simultaneously. 21% of their deals included digital media featuring sponsored content on team website’s as well as video integration throughout the season. With their expansion into the NBA this year, the NBA became their top league they have targeted across the world. also expanded within other US Major Pro Sports. Earlier this month, became the Official Fan Loyalty Partner of 26 MLS clubs using a similar tactic of mass adoption within a league as they did with the NBA. Along with the MLS, the NHL was another league the brand extended their portfolio into, signing a deal with more than half of the teams in the league.

    For the last 12 years, Turkish Airlines has been the exclusive title sponsor for the EuroLeague’s competition. While the exclusive title sponsor spot is taken, other brands like adidas, BKT, Spalding and 7days carry a large presence all over Europe during the games. For some brands, a partnership just for the Final Four is enough. Technogym and Acibadem have deals only at the season’s end and provide technical equipment and services to the teams.

    The EuroLeague has been deemed the most important basketball tournament in Europe which includes the best teams throughout Europe. The league, a semi-closed league, consists of 18 teams competing to qualify to the Final Four which leads to being crowned the champions of Europe. This year the final stage is set in Belgrade, Serbia, in the Stark Arena.

    The four teams competing for the title are the reigning champion, Anadolu Efes, who are looking to bring the title back to Turkey. The Spanish giants, Real Madrid and Barcelona, who bring the national rivalry to the international sphere. Finally, Olympiacos qualified second in the regular season to make the Final Four.

    Off the court, Real Madrid ranks #1 in terms of social media following in the EuroLeague with 18M followers across all platforms, a sizeable lead over FC Barcelona ranked #2 with just over 3.5M. Anadolu Efes and Olympaicos rank #6 and #7 respectively within the EuroLeague.

    The NBA's Play-In Tournament is back for its 2nd year. We highlight the west coast matchup of the day as the Minnesota Timberwolves take on the Los Angeles Clippers tonight on TNT.


    State Farm, Nissan, GEICO, and Continental Tire are still alive in the Final Four. These four brands have a sponsorship deal with all of the remaining teams.

    Insurance, Auto and Finance have the most assets, this is twice as much as the next category, Healthcare. There are nine insurance brands with deals ties to the remaining four teams, deals in this category are led by State Farm and GEICO. The leading category, Auto, has 10 brands with deals. This category is lead by Continental Tire which has the most total deals.

    The four remaining teams, on average, have 28 sponsorship deals per team. Leading the group is the Kansas Jayhawks with 31 deals, followed closely by Villanova with 30. Going head to head in the Final Four are long time rivals Duke and North Carolina. Duke beats UNC in regards to total sponsorships with 28 deals compared to UNC’s 23. The average amongst the rest of the NCAA Schools & Conferences is nine. There are over 2,400 brands buying sponsorships within college basketball across 280+ different schools/conferences. State Farm not only is top for the Final Four, but also across all teams, while GEICO and Nissan each make the top five.

    Over 115 brands have taken advantage of signing a men’s college basketball player to a NIL deal since granted access in July 2021. Mercury NFT claims the #1 overall spot with 11 total NIL deals. The brand’s college portfolio includes Dontaie Allen, Keion Brooks Jr., Davion Mintz, Jacob Toppin, TyTy Washington, along with Coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats.

    Rounding out the top four spots are Morgan & Morgan (10 deals), FTX (7 deals) and Raising Cane’s (7 deals). 48% of Morgan & Morgan’s total sponsorship deals are with collegiate basketball players while FTX continues to expand their portfolio across numerous colleges and leagues during the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

    The technology category has over 30 endorsements within the NIL space with NFT’s accounting for nearly 50% of tech category deals. Ranked by sub-categories in technology, NFT is second after Non-Athletic Apparel/Footwear. Cryptocurrency is 5th as brands lean on the younger generation to promote the blockchain technology that has recently revolutionized the technology industry. Instagram is the most utilized social media platform by these athletes as it beats out Twitter in terms of the number of branded posts.

    10 of the Kentucky Wildcat players have landed in the top 30 for NCAA men’s basketball players in terms of NIL endorsement deals. Here is the full list of the top athletes with 5 or more endorsement deals:

    NIL deals

    March Madness has arrived! The first round of the 2022 NCAA tournament begins today, as 64 collegiate teams compete to become college basketball champions.

    Take a look at how the four #1 seeded teams matchup with partnerships and social presence.

    March Madness #1 Seeds (3.17)

    Ranked by total sponsorship deals, banking and restaurants/event space lead categories in deals with NCAA Schools & Conferences. These top two categories are the only two categories to have over 500 deals within the NCAA, while banking brands are the clear leaders having over 40% more sponsorship deals than any other category.

    The retail category expanded their portfolio with over 100 new deals within the NCAA this year, more new deals than any other category.

    PNC Bank led the banking category in total sponsorship deals, followed by US Bank and Wells Fargo. These brands dominated this category each sponsoring almost 50% more NCAA Schools & Conferences than any other brand..

    The restaurants / event spaces category was led by Buffalo Wild Wings who was the only brand in the category to have sponsorship deals with 20+ schools. First Watch was the biggest emerging brand in the restaurants/event spaces category signing sponsorship deals with 7 schools in 2021. Currently, 45% of all of First Watch’s sponsorships are with NCAA schools/conferences, including the Kentucky Wildcats and UCF Knights.

    Sunday, February 20th, Team LeBron takes on Team Durant in the 2022 NBA All-Star Game hosted at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.

    Los Angeles Lakers superstar, LeBron James, has seen a 21% increase in social followers and a 75% increase in brand endorsements this season. On the other side of the court, Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets has seen a quick boom in endorsements featuring Coinbase, Weedmaps, Degree, Master & Dynamic, and Nike. Not to mention his investments with the Philadelphia Union.

    This Sunday, Team LeBron takes on Team Durant in the 2022 NBA All-Star Game hosted at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.

    Los Angeles Lakers superstar, LeBron James, has seen a 21% increase in social followers and a 75% increase in brand endorsements this season. On the other side of the court, Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets has seen a quick boom in endorsements featuring Coinbase, Weedmaps, Degree, Master & Dynamic, and Nike. Not to mention his investments with the Philadelphia Union.

    NBA All-Star Weekend LeBron James Endorsements
    NBA All-Star Weekend Kevin Durant Endorsements

    Future, a fitness app that virtually connects you with your very own personal trainer, has signed deals with the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors. The brand will become the Official Fitness Coaching partner of both teams as they have opened up a new sponsorship category within the NBA.

    The brand will be getting awareness with logo visibility at both Madison Square Garden and the Chase Center while also creating exclusive content with the strength and conditioning coaches of both teams. They will also be featured during the game with promotions available for fans attending games.

    Each week SponsorUnited sends out a list of the top 25 hottest brands to current clients. This list is ranked by weekly increase in profile views by unique users of SponsorUnited. Last week after the deal was announced with the teams, Future was ranked #5 on the list while the week prior was ranked #478. It will be interesting to watch Future as the season continues. SponsorUnited will be tracking all assets Future has at both arenas which is set to debut in the next week as the All-Star break has ended. The brand has currently been activating with the Golden State Warriors on social media with branded posts called “Road Reps.”

    NBA 2020-21 Report

    July 17, 2021

    The report is fortified by data from over 6,000 NBA sponsorship and media deals from the 2021-22 NBA season. It highlights the impact of team revenue in addition to a comprehensive dive into marketing and partnerships across the league, all 30 teams, players, categories, assets, and brands.

    Key findings from the report include:

    • NBA teams surpassed $1.2B in sponsorship revenues, achieving 50% growth over the 2020-21 season. Nearing $450M in additional spending on team sponsorships.
    • Revenue was driven by a significant increase in spending across the Sports Betting and Financial categories, and the emergence of Cryptocurrency., which had no NBA deals in 2020-21, launched 28 individual deals this season.
    • NBA players continue to expand as a platform for brands, as they saw a 46% increase in deals from the prior year. Player endorsements now represent 30% of total NBA brand deals.
    • Five of the top six most searched companies on the SponsorUnited platform by NBA executives were Cryptocurrency brands (FTX,, Coinbase, Voyager, Ankr). Cryptocurrency had a higher search volume than the entire Alcohol category. In fact, not one Alcohol brand ranked within the top 50 most searched brands.
    • Performance on the court had the most direct association with fan interest.Playoff-eligible teams had an increase in social following during the season that was 150% greater than non-playoff teams.
    • Despite missing the playoffs in his 19th season, LeBron James’ social following saw a massive increase of 22M new followers, which was more than 25 individual NBA teams. In fact, he alone has more Instagram followers than every NBA team’s total social following across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok.

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