Even the president of the Indiana Pacers was skeptical when he heard about the upcoming line of National Basketball Association furniture.
Pacers-themed home goods already available include a hoop-style end table, lamps, clocks, wall decor, throws, bar stools, beanbag chairs, pillows, sheet sets and wastebaskets.
But when general manager Donnie Walsh received a sample pair of leather pillows embossed with the Pacers logo, he was sold on the idea that the NBA-licensed line is tasteful enough to score with fans of both ESPN and HGTV.
“When I first heard about it, I thought to myself, ‘I don’t want a chair that looks like a basketball goal.’ This doesn’t look like that,” says Walsh. “The pillows are really beautiful. I’m going to put them in my house.”
The NBA at Home collection is expected to be available online soon and in stores by the playoffs in April. All the pieces in the collection can be ordered with logos of any of the NBA’s 30 teams, or with the NBA logo itself.
Sal LaRocca, who oversees global merchandising for the NBA, sees the collection as the sports world’s first full-court press into the family room.
“Historically, when sports leagues — and certainly the NBA — thought about home furnishings, it was done so in the context of a kid’s room, with bedding and other things,” says LaRocca.
“What makes this different is that more and more families seem to be creating dens where the family gathers to watch television and really spend time together. This is our first entrÃ©e into that room of the house.”
Though the league and team logos are obvious brands to be exploited, it seems to this observer than in their haste to bring such products to market, the NBA’s marketing geniuses are ignoring the name recognition afforded by some of the game’s biggest stars. Surely an actual Mel Turpin dinner bell would have some appeal.