The San Antonio Spurs are one of the most disrespected teams in the NBA. While I understand casual fans of the league overlooking them or fans of other teams writing them off because they don’t pay attention, it’s an extra slap in the face when the league itself seems to forget about the team.
James Edwards III, a beat writer for The Athletic covering the Detroit Pistons, recently visited the NBA flagship store in New York City. He was rightfully appalled that the store did not have any merchandise for his beloved Detroit Pistons, including a jersey for first overall pick Cade Cunningham on display. In a video he posted to Twitter, he shows the complete sales rack of current players and reveals that only 25 teams are represented.
In a follow-up post, he shows that Chris Duarte of the Pacers has a jersey for sale at the store, but no one from the Kings, Pistons, or Spurs were represented. They were, in fact, the only three teams without jerseys at the shop.
Putting the blatant disrespect aside, this seems like poor marketing from the NBA. The Pistons have two very good young players in Cade Cunningham and Saddiq Bey, and Detroit is a trendy city, so people might buy some Pistons gear.
The Kings have an All-Star in Domantas Sabonis and a very good young point guard in De’Aaron Fox, so they could have easily added a rack for one of those players.
The Spurs do not have a highly-touted lottery pick, but they have Keldon Johnson, who is a gold medalist (so is Jerami Grant, Piston fans) and an All-Star in Dejounte Murray who is undoubtedly a top 20 player in the league. Not to mention, the Spurs have some of the cleanest jerseys in the entire league.
I understand that LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Steph Curry are the big sellers. Each of them has multiple jerseys for sale. I also get that the store is in New York, which explains why Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are overrepresented, along with four different Knicks.
It makes sense that the store sells the big names more than players like Pascal Siakam, Mo Bamba, and Jamal Murray, who all only have one type of jersey for sale. However, the Oklahoma City Thunder have both Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, so it makes no sense that Dejounte Murray doesn’t make the cut.
When people visit the Big Apple, they are almost always ready to spend way too much money on something they really don’t need. The NBA could capitalize on that. When I sit on my couch and think with a degree of reason, I know I don’t need a Fiesta Keldon Johnson jersey. If I’m on vacation and see one, though, that’s a whole other story.
45% of the jersey profits go to the player, so it just seems unfair to the teams that are not represented. Sure, I could go to the online store, but seeing a jersey of my favorite player hanging up for sale makes me a lot more likely to buy one.
Disrespect comes in many shapes and forms, but it’s worse when it’s the league itself handing it down.