NEW YORK – The National Basketball Association (NBA) today announced the NBA Team Sales & Marketing Awards at the league’s annual NBA Sales & Marketing Meeting in Miami. All 30 teams were invited to submit a nomination in each category for awards recognizing leaders and innovators across key areas, with a committee of league and team executives choosing the winners.
The 2019 NBA Champion Toronto Raptors received the league’s first-ever NBA Team of the Year Award. The Raptors were recognized for their achievements across team business, including Ticketing, Partnerships, Marketing, Digital Media, Business Analytics and Innovation.
The Dallas Mavericks earned the NBA Inclusion Leadership Award, while the Milwaukee Bucks and the Sacramento Kings teamed up to receive the NBA Inclusion Innovation Award. The Kings, who earned the NBA Inclusion Innovation Award last year, also picked up the NBA Team Innovation Award this year.
In addition, Erin Dlouhy, Senior Director of Guest and Culinary Experience for Pacers Sports & Entertainment, received the Pete Winemiller Guest Experience Innovation Award. The NBA Values of the Game Award was presented to Edward Rivero, Basketball Information Specialist for the Detroit Pistons.
The NBA also recognized organizations for team business performance in 12 categories across Ticket Sales and Member Retention, Partnerships, Fan Experience and Digital Innovation. Twenty-two teams received awards for team business performance. The Raptors earned the most awards with six, followed by the LA Clippers with five. The Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat received four each.
“This year’s winners have not only achieved outstanding excellence but have raised the NBA’s standards as the league strengthens its pursuit of innovation, inclusion and leadership,” said Amy Brooks, NBA President, Team Marketing & Business Operations and Chief Innovation Officer. “Our teams continue to place their fans at the forefront of their strategies, and in doing so, have played an instrumental role in growing our game.”
NBA Team of the Year: Toronto Raptors
The Raptors received the inaugural NBA Team of the Year Award for their strong business performance and innovative marketing programs. The team was near the top of the league for ticket member renewals, total tickets sold and full season tickets sold. Toronto was also recognized for its innovative approach to partnerships resulting in it being presented with the NBA’s Activation of the Year Award last July, and its creative marketing strategy, including its efforts to drive community conversations around diversity and inclusion through initiatives like the “GroundbreakHERS,” a professional development network supporting females in sports, and “Powered by Female Fans,” a celebration of the team’s female fan base. The Raptors leveraged their unique association with OVO through the third annual ‘Welcome Toronto’ campaign to make an impact in the community. In addition, through Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment’s Digital Labs, the team offered fans a highly-engaging mobile experience resulting in growth for the team’s mobile apps and social channels. The Raptors also launched the “Future of Sport Lab” initiative for aspiring business startups in the sports space.
NBA Inclusion Leadership Award: Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks received the NBA Inclusion Leadership Award, which recognizes a team’s commitment to inclusion as a key business strategy. The team instituted a comprehensive Diversity & Inclusion strategy that covers Customers, Reputation, Agenda for Women, Family, Talent and Suppliers (C.R.A.F.T.S.), and includes several innovative policies and initiatives. These policies and initiatives include establishing four new employee resource groups; building a network of influencers to create awareness of their cultural theme nights, which generated 2.7 million impressions on social media; developing the Dallas Mavericks Advisory Council, a group of 24 influential and diverse business and community leaders; and strengthening their supplier diversity efforts to triple spend with minority, women and disadvantaged business enterprises. Through their commitment, 50 percent of the Mavericks executives are now women and 47 percent are people of color.
NBA Inclusion Innovation Award: Sacramento Kings and Milwaukee Bucks
The Kings and the Bucks earned the NBA Inclusion Innovation Award, which honors a program that advances inclusive practices. This year marked the first time the award has been shared by two teams and the second year in a row that the Kings were honored in this category. Although Sacramento and Milwaukee are from different parts of the country, both communities have been affected by social injustice. The Kings partnered with the Bucks to host “Team Up for Change” at Golden 1 Center, a first-of-its-kind, daylong summit convened to address social injustice. The event brought together community leaders, law enforcement and youth advocates from Sacramento and Milwaukee to guide and inform conversations around issues at the intersection of sports, race and the pursuit of more equitable communities. Milwaukee will host the second Team Up for Change summit on Feb. 10.
NBA Team Innovation Award: Sacramento Kings
The Kings also were honored with the NBA Team Innovation Award, which recognizes the creation and execution of a unique idea with the potential to positively impact the business. This season, the Kings launched the world’s first in-arena, checkout-free convenience store with technology company Zippin. Linked to the Kings’ mobile app or a fan’s credit or debit card, the new in-arena store utilizes cameras, sensors and artificial intelligence to allow fans to walk in, grab items and walk out all in under 30 seconds.
Pete Winemiller Guest Experience Innovation Award: Erin Dlouhy, Pacers Sports & Entertainment
Erin Dlouhy, Senior Director, Guest and Culinary Experience for Pacers Sports & Entertainment, received the Pete Winemiller Guest Experience Innovation Award. The award, inspired by the late Pete Winemiller, Senior Vice President of Guest Relations for the Oklahoma City Thunder, honors an individual who has created an innovative service experience for fans. Dlouhy, who leads a guest service team of 250 full- and part-time employees, is responsible for overseeing all guest experience programs for Pacers Sports & Entertainment. She manages the team’s relationship with the Disney Institute as part of the NBA’s ELEVATE program, and her efforts have helped the Pacers maintain high overall guest satisfaction rates and 92 percent in season ticket member renewal rates.
Values of the Game: Edward Rivero, Detroit Pistons
Edward Rivero, Basketball Information Specialist for the Detroit Pistons, was presented with the NBA Values of the Game Award, which recognizes an individual at an NBA team who exemplifies the values of the league in his or her community. Born with cerebral palsy, Rivero, who is also diabetic and lost sight in one eye, has faced many challenges in his life but approaches each day with a vigor that embodies perseverance, commitment, loyalty and hard work. He began his 37-year career with the Pistons as a locker room attendant in 1982 and was named Basketball Information Specialist in 2003 for his special gift of memory and passion for NBA statistics. Long before sports analytics computer software was available, Rivero provided unique team insights by tracking statistics manually. His statistics regarding player shooting and on-court tendencies were rarely used when he first started but are now commonplace in scouting reports and broadcast and game notes.