The National Basketball Association’s Partnership With Tissot How The Shot Clock Revolutionised The Game Of Basketball by Balazs FerencziJanuary 30, 2020 MIN READThe National Basketball Association’s Partnership With Tissot
Today we will talk a bit about watches and a bit about sports. Particularly the NBA.
Fratello Magazine is a watch platform. That’s the way it’s always been. So why am I talking about basketball? Well, for one, I love the sport. I’ve been playing basketball since I was a kid and also follow the league for many years now. But that’s not it. There is a serious, watch-related reason for it. There is a partnership between the world’s most known basketball league, the NBA, and a watch brand that we do not hear too much about. The partnership came to existence in 2015, naming Tissot as the official timekeeper of the league. In today’s article, we will take a closer look at this collaboration that, in a way, unified the league even more.
The National Basketball Association is one of the four major sports leagues in the United States and Canada next to the MLB, the NFL, and the NHL. It consists of 30 teams (29 in the USA and 1 in Canada) divided into two conferences (Eastern and Western) and six divisions. On the east coast, you have the Atlantic, Central, and Southwest and on the west coast the Northwest, Pacific, and Southwest Divisions. Each division contains 5 US teams with the Atlantic in the Eastern Conference having four from the US and the Toronto Raptors from Canada. The NBA came into existence in 1946. Originally it was known as the BAA (Basketball Association. Of America). For a while, it operated simultaneously with other leagues such as the NBL and the ABA. However, since 1976 thanks to a merger with the ABA, it became the sole league for professional basketball in the US.
To understand the NBA today, we need to look at its history and understand that success has not always come easily. We have to remember that basketball, although was invented in the USA (by a Canadian, James Naismith), was never the number one sport in the country. That title belongs to American football, with baseball being a close second (hence their nicknames, “America’s Game” and “America’s Pastime” respectively). Basketball slotted neatly into the third spot but massively trailed the top two. However, the popularity of the sport grew immensely in 1979 when two rookies joined the league. They were Larry Bird (Boston Celtics) and Earl “Magic” Johnson (L.A. Lakers). They dominated the 1980s, transforming the marketability of the league. Just five years after their arrival, another household name arrived in the NBA. His name is Michael Jordan. The rest, as they say, is history. These players and, of course, many others since then elevated the NBA. They also formed the fundaments to the successful association that it is today.
DeAndre Jordan from the Brooklyn Nets (second from left in black) warming up before their game against the New York Knicks
Fratello is still a watch magazine, so don’t worry, we’ll leave sports articles to ESPN. With sports, however, comes timing. One of the most critical aspects of that in an NBA game is the usage of a shot clock. The shot clock (often referred to as the 24-second clock) is a device that has one single purpose; the quickening of the game. Applied to both backboards, the clock measures the 24 seconds a team has for a play. When a team gains new possession of the ball, they have 24 seconds to score. However, if the ball touches the rim, the clock resets. Meaning if the team attempts to score, but the ball bounces off of the rim, they have another 24 seconds to succeed. Running out of time results in a “shot clock violation” resulting in a turnover.
The quickening of the game was another “trick” the NBA had to apply to attract fans. As I mentioned above, before the 80s, but especially in the 50s and 60s, the NBA was not too popular. One of the reasons was the fact that fans often found basketball games too dull. Lack of the shot clock meant that the team could keep the ball and pass it on as long as they wanted to. The most extreme case happened between the Fort Wayne Pistons and the Minneapolis Lakers in 1950. The score of that game was a record low of 19-18. The teams tried to eliminate the opposing team’s players by holding onto the ball for many minutes without shooting it. Finally, in the 1954-55 season, the NBA introduced the first version of a shot clock.
My wrist shot with a vintage Tissot Navigator and the Tissot Shot Clock
In remembrance of Kobe
When I was preparing this article, I had no idea that the shot clock would soon find itself in the international spotlight for an altogether tragic reason. As you might have heard, Kobe Bryant 5 times NBA champion, philanthropist, Oscar-winning filmmaker, legendary basketball player, and father of four died in a helicopter accident a few days ago, along with his second child Gianna and seven other people. Kobe was only 41 years old.
Those of us that follow the sport of Basketball and have enjoyed Kobe’s career, will try to cope with this tragedy in our ways. The NBA community did that too. Every team tried to find a way to honor Kobe Bryant’s legacy. Many chose the shot clock to do us. See, Kobe wore two numbers during his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. These were numbers 8 and 24, his high school jersey number. At the start of the game, teams purposely let the shot clock run down from 24 seconds in remembrance of Kobe. That’s how the Tissot shot clock became the center of attention for a sad reason during quite a few NBA games these past days.
As we established, the shot clock has been part of the NBA way before Tissot came into the picture. The Swiss brand, however, revolutionized this aspect of the game. Before their arrival, pretty much every arena used a different device to measure the time. Tissot unified this, now every NBA team’s home court has to be equipped with the official timekeeping devices, including the shot clock, Tissot developed. They also formed a partnership with incredible players. The currently active ones are Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks) and Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors). Four-time champion Tony Parker is also an ambassador. Furthermore, Tissot has exclusive partnerships with a few teams, such as the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavalier, Charlotte Hornets, and Brooklyn Nets, among others. Recently we could see their logo everywhere as one of the leading partners of the NBA Paris Game 2020.
If you are visiting New York and have a few hours to spare, I suggest you visit their new flagship store. It’s on 34th Street, just across the street from Macy’s. Right after you came out of the NBA store, which is on the corner of 45th and 5th. The Tissot Boutique is a watch store dedicated to the brand, but it’s much more than that. I was lucky enough to visit it, and I have to say the place is just excellent. Not everyone gets the chance to go to an NBA game and see an official shot clock. Well, they have on in the store as well as a backboard set at the official NBA height. If you want to play the latest NBA video games, they’ve got you covered too.
It’s just a cool place to visit for fans of basketball. Or watches for that matter. After all, it is a Tissot Boutique, and essential items in it should be the latest and greatest from the Swiss brand. Their selection is dedicated to the Tissot NBA models, but it’s an overall great experience. Furthermore, the staff is super helpful and friendly and kindly allowed me to take photos for this article.
The NBA arguably has the most significant international reach. All four leagues have fans all over the world. However, the NBA is actively working on expanding its reach outside of the USA. Under the leadership of the late David Stern (NBA commissioner 1984-2014), the National Basketball Association became a worldwide phenomenon. It is now more international than any other American league. The 2019 NBA awards are a perfect example of that. The Canadian Toronto Raptors won the championship. The MVP (Most Valuable Player) was Giannis Antetokounmpo from Greece, while the Rookie of the Year was Luka Doncic from Slovenia. The most improved player, Pascal Siakam, from Cameroon, plays for the Raptors. Tissot, as a prestigious Swiss brand, fits perfectly into this international set up, which makes this partnership even more special and helpful for both parties. I, for one, cannot be more excited about it.
I want to thank Tissot (Germany, USA, and the Boutique) as well as the Brooklyn Nets for their help with this article. If you wish to visit Tissot’s website, please click here.
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About the author
Balázs joined Fratello Watches in 2014 and he has been a fan of watches as long as he can remember. His passion for watches really took off in 2007 when he purchased his first fine Swiss timepiece. From 2007 up… read more
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