Gatorade bought the D-league, now what?

Canton Charge forward Chris Evans reacts after missing a shot against the Erie BayHawks during an NBA D-League basketball game Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017, in Erie, Pa. [Dave Munch/AP)

“Beginning with the 2017-18 season, the NBA Development League (NBA D-League) will be renamed the NBA Gatorade League (NBA G-League) as part of a multi-year expanded partnership announced today by the National Basketball Association and Gatorade. This marks the first time a U.S. professional sports league has named an entitlement partner,” so read the official release from the NBA.

First off, Gatorade already sponsored the D-League. I’m sure many are familiar with the “Gatorade call-up.” These two have enjoyed a successful partnership, and this buyout only improves that. Aside from the hassle of getting used to calling it the G-League, this deal is actually a really good thing for the NBA.

Establishing a minor-league system like the MLB uses has been difficult for the NBA. The money that Gatorade brought in helped improve it, but it’s still nowhere close to being fully developed. The additional money being provided by Gatorade now has several impressive benefits; namely, a partnership with the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. This will allow for Gatorade to study the G-League athletes and improve their products to best fit the needs of a professional basketball player.

“Gatorade will incubate its latest product and equipment innovations into NBA G-League locker rooms, and teams will have the opportunity to collaborate with Gatorade to help players maximize their athletic potential and on court performance,” the official release read.

Even better, thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement, G-League athletes will make more money. The NBA minimum salary is being raised by 45 percent. This is important to the G-League in that the new CBA also allows for two-way contracts. A two-way contract essentially signs a player to play primarily in the G-League, but allows for the experience of playing for the parent team; and it rewards them financially. For example, right now you’ll see top G-League players making about $26,000. Players with a two-way contract, however, are expected to make more than double that. The CBA allows for each team to have two players in their league on a two-way contract, and has expanded maximum roster size to 17 to allow for it.

The Gatorade sponsorship will allow for G-League players to make more money. At a time when developmental players are being tempted overseas with higher salaries, this sponsorship is what will allow for the NBA to develop these farm systems in the first place.

Aside from the name change, the only thing the fans will have to endure is the new G-League logo. This logo will be plastered to balls, jerseys, league digital assents and even the court itself. But fear not! The logo is not actually all that different; in fact, it’s subtler.

All in all, this is a really good move for the NBA. They benefit financially, they have better resources to compete and it’s all coming at the expense of Gatorade. Their minor-league system is going to develop far beyond what the NBA has been able to accomplish by itself. That means more exciting basketball, and really, who doesn’t want that?


Rachel Schaefer is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at rachel.schaefer@uconn.edu.