It’s almost here. But I don’t think anyone thought about this. When the the current collective bargaining agreement expires at midnight, you won’t be able to go to NBA.com and watch Blake Griffin dunk highlights from his rookie season, or read analysis from last week’s NBA Draft. While the revolution might be televised, it’s going to feature a whole lot of David Stern, Mike Brown and Sekou Smith, and none of Kobe, LeBron or D-Wade.
What am I talking about? When the clock strikes midnight tonight, all the photos, videos and even potentially names of NBA players have to disappear off all NBA-owned digital properties. That means NBA.com, your team’s website, Facebook page and Twitter feed, and anywhere else run by the league.
Over the past few weeks, NBA website administrators and support staff have endured two-hour conference calls and countless planning sessions to figure out how to eliminate all these photos, highlights, articles and promotional features from the sites.
There are additional gray areas that are still up for discussion: What about a photo of a Lakers fan wearing a No. 24 Kobe Bryant jersey? What about a retrospective feature on the John Stockton–Karl Malone Jazz teams? Do tweets from the team’s official Twitter feed that mention a player and/or link to an image need to be deleted? How about Facebook posts?
Nobody seems to know for certain the definitive answers to these questions and the criteria seem to be arbitrary. According to more than one team website staffer, the cutoff for images of retired players right now stands at 1992-93 — Shaquille O’Neal‘s first season in the league. And social media is an area they’re still grappling with as the deadline approaches.
However strict the boundaries, overhauling the architecture of these sites is a painstaking process that has a lot of talented web people around the league very stressed out. The NBA has built and furnished each team with a website “wire frame” that will take the place of the existing, much more sophisticated site. The wire frame is a rudimentary version of the site, without a lot of the snazzy technology we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. As a result, each of the 30 team sites will look virtually identical.
“We’re going back to the stone ages of the Internet,” said one team website administrator. “It’s all going to be very dumbed down.”
With that, here’s what NBA.com looks like right now:
And this is what NBA.com could look like tomorrow morning. Yes, this is what NBA.com looked like during the 1998-99 lockout:
While it’s still yet to be seen exactly what each site will look like come Friday, the framework is there: It’s not good.
What do you think?
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