With the current collective bargaining agreement set to expire on midnight Thursday, not only will the NBA find itself in the middle of a lockout, but NBA.com will be impacted as well, according to ESPN.com:
“That’s because the moment the clock strikes midnight on the current CBA, all those images and videos of NBA players have to disappear off NBA-owned digital properties. Depending on how you interpret “fair use,” the prohibition could include the mere mention of a player’s name on an NBA-owned site, though different teams have different interpretations of this particular stipulation.
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.””
The summer months are normally slow in terms of traffic for NBA.com, but I can only imagine what the numbers will be like if they go all AOL 3.0 on us. I have the feeling Thursday will be the start of a long summer.