By Barry Janoff
February 14, 2017: In 2001, the NBA formed the Developmental League as its official minor league entity to help prepare players, coaches, officials, trainers and front-office staff for the NBA.
Beginning next season, under what was called an unprecedented alliance, the D-League will be rebranded as the NBA Gatorade League, G-League for short.
Gatorade is a founding partner of the NBA D-League, and has been aligned with the NBA since 1984,
Financial terms were not shared.
As part of the multi-year partnership — which the NBA said "marks the first time a U.S. professional sports league has named an entitlement partner" — the NBA and Gatorade unveiled a new NBA G-League logo that will be featured across all game balls, team jerseys, on-court signage and league digital assets.
The deal comes just days before the NBA All-Star Game and weekend in New Orleans, where Gatorade plans to activate behind this an other hoops-related marketing.
Among the planned events are the D-League All-Star Game presented by Kumho Tire and the D-League Slam Dunk presented by Verizon, both of which will serve as platforms for Gatorade and the NBA to share with fans and marketing partners the transition of the D-League to the G-League.
A major part of the alliance will see Gatorade "incubate its latest product and equipment innovations into NBA G-League locker rooms."
Through the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI), the brand, a division of PepsiCo, said it would "collaborate with the NBA G-League on programs to enhance player sports performance and recovery."
Teams will have the opportunity to collaborate with Gatorade to help players maximize their athletic potential and on-court performance.
"This is about the future of how we an help athletes perform,” Brett O’Brien, sip and GM for Gatorade, said in a promo spot unveiled to coincide with the deal. "It’s about performance fuel and teaching athletes what they put into their bodies and how they can better under stand what their body does.
"It goes way beyond calling it the Gatorade League. The essence of what the Gatorade League stands for is about how do we create the next level of sports performance," said O’Brien.
Gatorade said it would continue to present the league's Gatorade Call-Up platform, which since 2001 has seen some 500 Gatorade Call-Ups from the NBA D-League to the NBA.
"As one of the most iconic brands in the world and a founding partner of the NBA Development League, Gatorade is an ideal fit for this first-of-its-kind partnership," Mark Tatum, NBA deputy commissioner and COO, said in a statement.
"The NBA D-League has prepared hundreds of players for the NBA and Gatorade has always been focused on fueling players to perform at the highest level. We look forward to collaborating with the renowned GSSI team to enhance player development and our game," said Tatum.
According to the NBA, 40% of current NBA players have spent time in the NBA D-League and four current NBA head coaches had been coaches with NBA D-League teams.
The league has tripled in size from eight teams during the inaugural 2001-02 season to a record 25 teams for the 2017-18 campaign.
The NBA said its owners have “increasingly invested in the NBA D-League, with 15 NBA clubs purchasing an NBA D-League team since the 2012-13 season, bringing the total number of NBA-owned minor league franchises to 20 for next season.”
Recent changes to the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement "have reinforced that synergy," said the NBA.
Under the new CBA, NBA teams beginning next season would be able to have as many as two "two-way players" on their rosters, allowing them to gain experience in the NBA but primarily play in the NBA G-League.
Under the expanded deal, the NBA and Gatorade will collaborate on “custom, behind-the-scenes video content, which will capture NBA G-League players on their respective journeys, highlighting a shared commitment to enhancing performance through innovation.”
Gatorade said that since 1985, GSSI has helped athletes "optimize their sports performance and well-being through research, education, innovation and providing high-caliber sports nutrition science services."
According to Gatorade, GSSI scientists will partner with the NBA G-League on player nutrition and training programs, incorporating the newest technology and innovations in Gatorade testing, product and equipment.
"We have more than 50 years of experience working with athletes and using those insights to help improve athletic performance through innovative sports fuel and equipment," said O'Brien. “This expansion of our NBA partnership is a great opportunity to not only work with the elite athletes of the NBA G-League, but also continue to lead the evolution of basketball performance."
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