NEW YORK — The NBA presented its Team Partnership Awards for the 2021-22 season this week at its annual Team Presidents Meeting in Las Vegas. The NBA Team Partnership Awards recognize teams for setting new standards of excellence in fan engagement, creative partnerships, and innovative programming, with the goal of enhancing the fan experience throughout the season and continuing to grow the game around the globe.
The Detroit Pistons won the NBA Team Partnership of the Year Award, the Phoenix Suns received the NBA Changemaker of the Year Award, and the Washington Wizards took home the inaugural NBA Team International Strategy Award. All 30 teams were invited to submit for each category, with the winners chosen by a finalist committee comprised of team representatives and league executives.
NBA Team Partnership of the Year
The Pistons won the NBA Team Partnership of the Year Award for their multifaceted program with Shopify, tipping off the company’s first sports partnership. The NBA Team Partnership of the Year Award recognizes the best partner marketing campaign and platform, with special attention given to a new idea that achieves the partner’s objectives with measurable results.
The Pistons and Shopify had over 800 small businesses apply to the SHOP313 program. Over the span of the 2021-22 season, it spotlighted 82 small businesses through a unique cycle of amplification from in-arena exposure, community events, and a strong digital presence. SHOP313 proved to be an asset for Detroit-based companies Bea’s Squeeze, a lemonade company, now available at Walmart, and K. Walker Collective, an apparel brand, partnering with the Pistons’ G League team, Motor City Cruise, to design their uniform.
NBA Changemaker of the Year
The Suns were honored with the NBA Changemaker of the Year Award for their partnership with Footprint focusing on various sustainability initiatives. The NBA Changemaker of the Year recognizes the best new partnership with an emphasis on an innovative approach in either prospecting an emerging category, using a specific marketing channel, or rethinking the traditional asset mix.
The Suns received the award for their robust partnership with Footprint. Going beyond the naming rights of their arena, the partnership was built around the goal of eliminating single-use plastics in the food chain. The Suns and Footprint have set their attention on educating fans on the importance of sustainability, building a living innovation lab to test new products, and bring on new partners who share the same mission to create a healthier planet.
NBA Team International Strategy Award
The Wizards received the inaugural 2022 NBA Team International Strategy Award. The NBA International Strategy Award recognizes the team with the best cohesive strategy that authenticates the team and/or partner’s position globally or in a specific international region through use of the International Team Marketing Program. Special attention was given to solving partner objectives and whether the program grows the team or league brand globally.
The Wizards won for their cohesive, year-round commitment to authenticating the Wizards position on the international stage. With the focus on Japan and Israel, the Wizards have built robust international language content platforms, grown strategic connections abroad and uniquely celebrated and honored each culture within their local community. The team has secured two deals under the International Team Marketing Program to date, including their recently announced partnership with Recruit Direct Scout, a Japan-based recruitment service for highly skilled jobseekers. The Wizards plan to begin activating with Recruit this Fall to coincide with playing in the NBA Global Games in Japan where the team will play two preseason games in the country.