Bobblehead Basketball Becomes a Fan Favorite

When a player reaches a certain level of popularity, fans will give him bobblehead dolls at games. It’s a small gesture, but one that gives him more status than simply wearing a team jersey. In the case of basketball players, it’s one more way to display their loyalty to a franchise and a fan base that has long made them feel at home.

The bobblehead is becoming a fixture at NBA games. Many teams give out the 7.5-inch statuettes to fans at the entrance to arenas, while others sell them in the team store and online. The figures, which are produced in large quantities by Alexander Global Promotions Inc. of Bellevue, Wash., have a jiggling head and are typically dressed in the player’s uniform.

More than 20 teams schedule bobblehead giveaways this year, and they often sell out in advance. They are a key marketing tool that help teams promote their season tickets and other promotions. The bobblehead industry also helps generate buzz for upcoming games.

A bobblehead can be a great gift for a sports-loving friend or family member. You can choose a sports figure or even customize it with your own design. Custom bobbleheads make great gifts for groomsmen, bridesmaids, or as wedding cake toppers. They are a fun and unique way to remember your favorite sports event, player, or team.

Unlike the poly-resin and ceramic dolls that are being made today, the original ones were usually made of papier-mache, which allowed for finer painting detail. Collectors say that the papier-mache dolls of some players, such as the Milwaukee Braves’ Elton Brand in the early ’60s, are miniature works of art. Today’s dolls are designed to capture the details of a player’s appearance, including tattoos and cornrow hair, for example. Lara White, the 76ers’ marketing vice president, boasts that her team’s Iverson doll is the most lifelike in the league.

NBA bobbleheads are a big business for teams. The Warriors, for instance, give out 66 versions of them each season. Some are based on a player’s interests, such as Klay Thompson’s with his surfboard. Stephen Curry’s has a dog, and Golden State chief revenue officer Brandon Schneider says the team is trying to tie in a theme to each one.

The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum in Milwaukee has unveiled two limited-edition bobbleheads in honor of the UConn Huskies’ NCAA men’s basketball championship win Monday night. One features Jonathan the Husky, the university’s mascot, standing on a ladder holding the basketball net. The other features the Huskies’ coach, Dan Hurley. Both are available for purchase through the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame’s website and will be shipped in July. The price is $35 each, plus $8 for shipping.