On the court where they have refined a game-changing brand of basketball, the reigning NBA Champions, the Golden State Warriors, today joined with Rakuten to announce an exciting new chapter in “Dub Nation” history. Beginning from the 2017-2018 NBA season, Rakuten will become Golden State’s first-ever jersey-badge partner.
When the Warriors hit the hardwood in their pre-season matches later this month, they will do so wearing the Rakuten logo on their jerseys. As part of the partnership agreement, Rakuten will also become the Official E-Commerce Partner, Official Video-On-Demand Partner and Official Affiliate Marketing Partner of the Warriors, while Rakuten Group company Ebates will become the Warriors Official Shopping Rewards Partner, global voice messaging service Rakuten Viber will become the Official Instant Messaging and Calling App Partner, and Rakuten Kobo will become the Official E-Reader Partner of the Warriors.
“When we heard about this opportunity, it was a no-brainer for us,” Rakuten founder and CEO Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani said at a press conference at the Warriors Practice Facility in Oakland, which was today renamed the Rakuten Performance Center as part of the agreement.
“Our intent is not only to become the uniform sponsor to enhance our brand awareness but also to help promote the Warriors globally, utilizing our global presence, expertise and skills,” Mikitani explained.
Warriors All-Star forward and the NBA’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Draymond Green, echoed Mikitani’s sentiments on the global value of the partnership.
“As we continue to grow the game globally, that’s big” said Green. “I think this is a great opportunity for the Warriors, the NBA and Rakuten to establish a relationship and continue to grow this game globally. I’ve never been to Japan. I look forward to it.”
Warriors General Manager, and former NBA Executive of the Year, Bob Meyers echoed Green’s excitement about a possible future visit to Japan. “Our philosophy is, we’re always open to new things. We’ve been to China three times. Japan is going to have the Olympics [in 2020]. It would be wonderful to experience that country and represent our country over there with the Warriors brand.”
With the Warriors sponsorship, Rakuten adds another global star to its professional sport connections. In July 2017, the company took a major step toward building its global brand when it became the Main Partner and Official Innovation and Entertainment Partner of iconic soccer club FC Barcelona. Its portfolio in Japan includes ownership of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles baseball team, which won the Japan Series Championship in 2013, and soccer club Vissel Kobe, which recently welcomed European star Lukas Podolski to the fold. Rakuten is also the title sponsor of the ATP 500 Rakuten Japan Open tennis tournament.
In talking about his company’s growing involvement in sport, Mikitani explained that “playing sports and watching sports moves the emotions of people so much. As a global company, I think supporting sports really represents our philosophy.”
This emotional pull that sports have on people was emphasized when 2015 NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala added, “It’s not just a patch, it’s a badge. A badge of honor.” Iguodala, who organized the NBA’s Player’s Technology Summit this summer in Silicon Valley with teammate Stephen Curry, also took the opportunity to mention his personal interest in e-commerce and tech.
After taking questions from media and revealing the team’s new-look jerseys, the audience in attendance was treated to a special surprise. With Mikitani leading the countdown, the Warriors unveiled their 2016-17 championship banner to cheers from the audience.
Though expectations have never been higher for the Warriors, both the players and their new partners are optimistic there will be more banners to come in the years ahead.