October 23, 2006 1:01 PM PDT

Lenovo scores deal with NBA

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NEW YORK--Lenovo announced Monday that it is teaming up with the National Basketball Association in a marketing and development deal.

As part of the new deal, Lenovo will become the official PC partner of the NBA, and it will be marketing its NBA affiliation in the U.S. and in China. The laptop maker has a similar marketing and technology partnership with the Olympic Games. It provided all the computers for the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, and will also provide equipment for the Summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008.

NBA Commissioner David Stern and Deepak Advani, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Lenovo, said the deal was more than just a marketing agreement. The two organizations plan to collaborate to develop new applications for coaches as well as for fans through the NBA.com Web site and on NBA TV.

"We were looking for a partner that would use technology to enhance the experience for the fans," Stern said. "And Lenovo relishes this goal as part their culture. This relationship is a big win for the NBA."

Before the Lenovo deal, the NBA had been using PCs and laptops from Dell.

The NBA will integrate Lenovo products into all facets of league operations, including using Lenovo laptops courtside at the scorer's table to record points, rebounds, assists and other statistics. NBA statisticians will get Lenovo touch-screen laptops to record statistical events in real time. NBA referees will use Lenovo PCs to review video of their calls at halftime, post-game and while traveling between games. And coaches will use laptops to access statistics courtside.

As part of the launch, Lenovo and the NBA also announced they had developed a new statistic for analyzing player performance. The "Lenovo Stat," which looks at the point differential when a player or combination of players is in the game, is intended to show what effect they have on the team as a whole. Presented as a positive or negative number, depending on the player configuration being considered, the statistic will identify the best players for each game and during an entire season.

Statisticians will use Lenovo computers and software to record and compute the figures. Once tallied, coaches will be able to use the statistic during the game to make changes in the lineup. It will be available to fans on NBA.com and on NBA TV at the end of each game. Lenovo said it hopes to develop other applications for NBA coaches as well as for fans.

Lenovo competes in a tough market against players such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard. The Chinese PC maker, which bought the PC division of IBM last year for $1.75 billion, is trying to make a name for itself in the U.S. market.

"PCs are too important to be treated as commodities," Advani said. "There is still a lot of room for innovation. And that is what this partnership is all about."

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I have a hard time understanding why the NBA didn't go with an American company or a true company in another region such as Europe (only because I can't think of another country with viable options in Asia). Everything in this country seems to be getting oursources to Inda, Pakistan, China, etc. I would like to see a symbiotic give-take relationship instead of the take-take model that seems to prevail. The Chinese widely and openly engage in piracy in both hardware and software. What angers me most is these companies like Lenovo aren't independent of their government - unlike the absurd argument for me to blame the United States for something HP has done, for instance. Companies exist in China because they are allowed to by their government (and because they directly benefit from these companies as if they owned them - as is truly the case since they can come in and do whatever they want when they want). This is done from the individual all the way up to corporate level. Why else is it mandatory for students to take golf and tennis players are told what tournaments they can compete in (as long as they don't conflict with a Chinese promoted tournament, for example. Also, players have to give most of what they make back to the Chinese goverment) by the government? Do you really think piracy would be so widespread in China if it weren't being backed/encouraged/directly undertaken by the Chinese government? This translates into companies like IBM and the NBA doing business with the same entity that is looking for ways to defraud them. Does anyone really believe that the competitive market that awarded China's Lenovo this contract with the NBA would be allowed if the table's were turned (aside from possible political reasons coming from the Communist Party? When are we going to wake up and realize that sheer market size doesn't mean "abuse me"? Who is the real winner in the end of all this oursourcing? It certainly isn't the United States.
Posted by matt_parker (52 comments )
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