The National Basketball Association announced a marketing agreement with Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo under which the NBA will use Lenovo personal and notebook computers to input courtside statistics and feature a new team-based statistic, the "Lenovo Stat," on both NBA TV and NBA.com.
The Lenovo deal is the second marketing partnership the NBA has struck with a Chinese firm, following a deal in April with Chinese appliance maker Haier to help promote Haier's high-definition TVs.
NBA Commissioner David Stern, Lenovo chief marketing officer Deepak Advani and Hall-of-Fame coach Lenny Wilkens were on hand Monday morning at a press event at the NBA Store in New York to discuss the partnership aimed at extending brand awareness for Lenovo, which last year purchased IBM's venerable PC business.
"We think Lenovo and its technology will enhance the NBA game for our fans," said Stern, who added that the NBA had been looking for a global technology partner for some time.
Lenovo will deploy ThinkPad, ThinkCentre and Lenovo 3000 notebook and desktop PCs in all 30 NBA arenas to record data and statistical information, including supplying Lenovo PCs at the official scorer's table. NBA statisticians and referees will also use Lenovo laptops, and Lenovo says it will work with select NBA coaches to develop coaching tools.
Advani said the NBA deal should help answer consumers question of "Who is Lenovo?" for his company, which is the No. 1 computer maker in Asia and No. 3 worldwide. He noted that the NBA will rely on the same PC infrastructure that was used successfully during the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.
Wilkens spoke to the relevance of the "Lenovo Stat," which measures the overall effectiveness of different combinations of players in winning games. The Lenovo Stat is a plus/minus statistic that will look at the point differential when a player, or combination of players, is in the game to see what effect they have on the team as a whole.
"The results can be surprising," said Wilkens, who noted that according to the Lenovo Stat, the best five-man combination for the NBA champion Miami Heat did not include their All-Star center Shaquille O'Neal. He thought such tidbits would be interesting to NBA coaches, who are "always looking for an edge."
When asked if other NBA television rights-holders besides NBA TV might carry the Lenovo Stat, perhaps through additional sponsorships, Advani was non-committal but optimistic.
"I have no doubt it will get picked up by others," he said.