Gatorade is poised to strike a major sponsorship deal with the NBA's minor league. Details are not yet clear but according to two people familiar with the deal, the D-League will be branded as the G-League as part of the arrangement.
NBA and Gatorade representatives declined to comment.
The NBA has been seeking a title sponsor since as far back as at least 2014, when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver listed it as a top priority for the league in an interview with USA Today. He said the naming rights deal would help the D-League move "to the next level." A naming right deal would follow the model set by Nascar, whose racing series carry corporate title sponsorships, including the Sprint Cup Series and Xfinity Series.
The NBA has shown a willingness to get aggressive with its corporate sponsorship deals. The league in April approved the sale of on-jersey advertising for its major league in the form of small patches starting with the 2017-18 season, as part of a three-year pilot program.
The developmental league deal would expand PepsiCo's relationship with the NBA. The beverage and food giant replaced Coca-Cola Co. as the league's official sponsor in 2015. PepsiCo has made Mountain Dew its lead brand in the sponsorship, although other brands are involved, too. Gatorade's relationship with the league predates that deal. It became the league's official sports drink sponsor in 1984.
The D-League, officially called the NBA Development League, includes 22 teams with one-to-one affiliations with NBA franchises. The season runs from November to April. The league, which began play in the 2001-02 season, will expand to 25 teams next season, according to its web site.