December 05, 2011
During the NBA's lockout, teams were allowed absolutely no contact with players. Players were allowed no contact with NBA events, either, and current players outside of the ones on the NBA Players Association's negotiating team couldn't even be mentioned on the NBA's website, or NBA TV. Players couldn't work out at team facilities, nor even be seen in the same convenience store as an NBA team employee without the employee having to run out quickly to avoid seeing her friend for fear of fine from the league. This actually happened.
This also actually happened: Ray Allen's(notes) appearance on an episode of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" had to be completely edited out because ABC (which owns the rights to televise NBA games) was fearful that Allen's appearance amongst all the Boston Celtics-themed charitable gifts given to a young boy would be seen as a violation of these ridiculous lockout rules.
Allen wasn't even the guy giving the apparel to the child, nor was he strutting around in Boston Celtics gear. The New York Times' Howard Beck brought this story to life over the weekend:
Ray Allen of the Boston Celtics made a surprise appearance, lighting up the face of 8-year-old Charles Walker, Carl's brother and a dedicated Celtics fan. Charles smiled, bounced, then ran to him, disappearing into Allen's blue sweatsuit as they hugged — "like I was his long-lost cousin or brother," Allen said Friday.
The producers sought, and received, donations from the N.B.A. and the Celtics: an autographed Larry Bird jersey and basketball, a section of parquet floor from the original Boston Garden, and assorted items stamped with the Celtics colors and logo. Because the products were featured in the show, Allen could not be.
As you'd expect, Beck reports that it was the NBA that made the request in September to have Allen's scenes cut. He was on the show to visit the brother of a young man who committed suicide two years ago after he was the victim of a string of bullying incidents at his school. When Beck caught up with Allen last week after it became clear that his scenes would not appear in the episode, he was actually en route to the school of the brother in question to hold a assembly in hopes of discouraging bullying.
What's sickest of all is that, in the NBA's eyes, it is fine and dandy with letting Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban chat it up with his champion Mavs as they celebrate a series of ESPY wins on ESPN last July (ABC owns ESPN, which also owns rights to televise NBA games), but quick shots of Ray Allen comforting a child with autographed Larry Bird jerseys somewhere in the background is apparently a no-no.
The NBA could not have handled this lockout any worse. Even with millions of dollars lost in 29 NBA cities, this might be its most egregious example.