In a tough economy, NBA marketers are thinking outside the box … and inside the oven. Reports USA Today: “Suppose you could get a Los Angeles Lakers  logo emblazoned across a pepperoni pizza that’s delivered right to your door. Or suppose you could get a Boston Celtics logo on the toast that pops out of your toaster. You can stop supposing. The National Basketball Association has figured out what fans are hungry for besides, for many, a Lakers-Celtics championship series: edible team logos. The league recently signed licensing deals with companies that offer these outside-the-box food items — and more. NBA logos also are showing up on everything from headphones to gardening gloves to outdoor grills. With sports licensing hit by the recession, major pro leagues and licensees are rolling out creative deals to attract new fans, particularly more women and teens. Retail sales of licensed sports merchandise fell 17% last year in the U.S. and Canada, estimates Ira Mayer, publisher of The Licensing Letter. NBA executives say global merchandise sales will reach $3 billion this year, up slightly. ‘It’s still tough times out there,’ says Mayer. ‘This is not going to make up for the overall loss in the apparel business.’ Boosting revenue means expanding the fan base and creating buzz. ‘As key licensing categories have matured, it’s an ongoing goal of the NBA to expand the brand into places that may attract new customers,’ says Sal LaRocca, head of global merchandising. That includes food, he adds, because ‘A lot of people watching NBA games on TV tend to eat.”‘