When David Stern locks someone out, he really locks them out. Currently, the NBA is under a lockout as owners and players work on a new collective bargaining agreement. This is not breaking news, considering it's been going on pretty much since Dallas beat Miami for the NBA Championship. However, the extent of lockout is somewhat surprising.
Besides $1 million fines for retweeting, another extreme can be found at NBA.com. Instead of images of current players, who apparently don't exist as long as they are locked out, the site is filled with images of retired players from previous eras. Furthermore, team sites have been stripped down as well. A visit to any team site reveals a great deal of cheerleader images, which, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. The surprise, however, is just how far the NBA will to disavow the current crop NBA players. Did they cease to exist? Are they dead to the eyes of NBA owners until a new CBA is reached?
Clearly, that answer is a resounding yes.
Here are some screenshots of just how far the NBA is willing to go in an effort to divide the two sides even further, even if that's not the intended result. Our first image takes us to the official site of the NBA. Notice the lack of any current players anywhere on this page:'
The only current basketball player appearing in the above screenshot plays for the WNBA. Meanwhile, the other visible players, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Brad Daugherty, Tom Sanders, and Patrick Ewing, are all retired from their playing careers. The snubs, however, don't stop there. A simple click of the "Players" link in the site's top navigation takes you to an index page of all the players who were on rosters when the CBA expired. The only problem is, there are no images associated when a players' link is clicked, save for the team logo.
The same is true even for Dirk Nowitzki, the current king of the NBA, at least in regards to active players:
On previous versions of this page, an image of Nowitzki appeared instead of the Dallas Mavericks logo. The elimination of current players doesn't end at NBA.com, either. As indicated, a visit to any team site finds a great deal of information about the team's cheerleaders, while absolutely nothing is available concerning players. As an example, here's a screenshot of the official site for the Dallas Mavericks:
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If this was 2010, that page would be full of Mavericks players celebrating their new trophy. Instead, we get cheerleader tryout links and stories about celebrity softball games. Even the videos are cheerleader-related, which, again, there's nothing wrong with that from a guy's point of view, but the fact remains, if you're Mavericks fan navigating to that site, it's probably to revel in the victory over the Miami Heat. Obviously, fans are supposed to take solace in the fact the cheerleaders are up and running.
Over at the New York Times, Howard Beck offers some details, although, the NBA spokesperson responsible for the quotes offers little clarification. Thankfully, someone tries to:
"We do not think it is appropriate to be using video and photography of current players at this time," said Mike Bass, an N.B.A. spokesman.
Gabe Feldman, the director of Tulane University's sports law program, said there was no compelling legal reason to remove player images. He suggested the decision was "a symbolic move," implying that the owners would not only shut down the league but would “stop promoting the players, too."
To further the point made by Feldman, take a quick glance at the NFL's official site. That league is also in lockout mode, but somehow, images of players are still available on the applicable pages.
Too bad the NBA revealed its petty side as soon as the CBA expired. If, in the coming months, you start hearing about how both sides can't come to an agreement and can't stand to be around each other, look no further than the NBA's reaction with its web properties for clues as to why things are so bad.