To its credit, the NBA has always been near the forefront of using the Internet to reach out to fans. Whereas leagues like the NFL and MLB have done everything possible to keep highlights from popping up on YouTube, the NBA freely disseminates videos. They've also embraced Twitter and encouraged players to use it as a positive marketing tool.
Unfortunately, a lockout would put much of the league's web activity on hold. Kevin Arnovitz explains at TrueHoop:
But for the guys who are in charge of those team websites and NBA.com, the pending deadline is a huge deal.
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.
As Arnovitz describes it, most team websites are about to turn into desolate wastelands (imagined here by Trey Kerby at TBJ). They'll be populated mostly by mascots and dancers, and any exciting player videos will be replaced by dispatches from charity events. So, Clippers fans, do you like Blake Griffin dunks? Because pretty soon your visits to clippers.com will be met with an interview featuring Clips superfan Frankie Muniz.
It's a tough break for NBA teams as they try to make their players more marketable. There's not much NBA news during the summer, but it's still an important time for teams to introduce new players to their fans and help build up the reputations of their budding stars. Without official Internet outreach, many of these players will hit their home courts for the first time next season with the home fans knowing little about them. It's a lose-lose-lose proposition for teams, players and fans.
Of course, dull websites are just one of many things that will make the league less interesting to follow during a lockout. It's going to be rough, guys. Enjoy the league while you still can.