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NBA.com Working to Eliminate Pictures and Videos of Players from Team Websites

The NBA just had one of its most successful seasons of the new millennium. Ratings were sky-high, fan interest spiked, and everyone seemed to take enjoyment in bashing the big villains of the basketball world — the Miami Heat. So what do you do to follow up such a great season? You cue up a lockout as your encore if you’re David Stern.

Though the NBA has many wage and salary cap issues to address in its CBA discussions, there is another problem on its hands. According to a story by Kevin Arnovitz at True Hoop, NBA.com and all the team websites affiliated with it are scrambling to prepare for the lockout. These details are enough to make any programmer go mad:

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Sacramento Kings Really Playing Up the Jimmer Fredette Angle, as Expected

Most people figured that the team that drafted Jimmer Fredette was doing so for marketing purposes more than anything else. Alex Kennedy at HoopsWorld put it perfectly on twitter saying “When owners see Jimmer, they see a big-name player who generates interest and money. When management sees him, they see a tough transition.” Keeping that in mind, and recognizing that Jimmer is the biggest name in the draft, the team in arguably the worst financial situation in the NBA decided to select him. And like Patrick Crawley pointed out in his draft recap (which you should definitely check out), the Kings are already playing up the Jimmer angle as much as you could expect. Check out the splash page they created specifically to promote him:

This really shouldn’t surprise us when you look at Sacramento’s financial situation. They need to sell tickets to raise money so they can keep the franchise in Sacramento. The question is if drafting Jimmer will help them do that. Sure he’s a recognizable name who fans may want to see, but if he’s not that good, how long will that last? Generally fans want to see a winner rather than an exciting player on a bad team (unless it’s Blake Griffin). If Jimmer proves to be a bust, then this will be viewed as a quick fix that didn’t work out.

By comparison, other teams marketed their newcomers fairly equally. The Utah Jazz featured both their top two picks on their website. The same is true of the Bobcats. Even the Cavaliers featured both of their top two guys on their website. Here are all the other splash pages for comparison:

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DirecTV Won’t Charge NFL Sunday Ticket Subscribers Until Games Are Played

Around this time of year, DirecTV customers who subscribe to the NFL Sunday Ticket begin getting charged their customary $50 per month over the next half year. What does that mean? Our TV bills begin to resemble that of a rent check for a one-bedroom apartment in the Midwest.

It’s a sad state of affairs, but we’re sports fans and we love our football, so they have us by the schnuts. The good news is DirecTV decided to surprise fans with something positive for a bleeping change. Check out this email they sent out to Sunday Ticket subscribers Thursday:

I have my doubts that my bill will be adjusted accordingly if games are missed because that’s pretty ambiguous language. You can’t put a price tag on games lost. You take away one NFL game from us, you may as well be taking away our season. Got that, DirecTV? One game missed, I want ALL my money back mmmm k?

On the real, DirecTV shouldn’t be celebrated for this; why should we get charged for a product we’re not receiving? The only reason we’re ecstatic is because we’re conditioned to associate anything DirecTV-related with bad news and large fees. I’d prefer not to hear from DirecTV unless they plan on lowering my bill, not keeping it status quo.

Hard Salary Cap Could Make Big Three Unaffordable for Miami Heat

When the Miami Heat’s Bermuda Triangle formed over the summer, skeptics overlooked that the team was going to have two of arguably the top five players in the League and found several reasons to doubt them. Would their egos be too big to work together? Do they have enough size? Who would take the final shot (ignoring that they probably wouldn’t need a “last shot” to win games)? Will they have enough money left to fill the rest of their team? Some of those arguments had validity, and I still have my doubts that Chris Bosh will remain happy as the team’s third option for the duration of his contract. But another concern was whispered then and remains an issue now.

When the NBA addresses its labor situation, what happens if a hard salary cap is implemented?

David Stern ruined the Heat orgy in Miami by letting out that loud fart prior to Game 1 of the Finals. The NBA currently employs a soft salary cap that many teams go over. The ones that go over pay a luxury tax, but that option would be eliminated if a hard cap were implemented. Currently the cap is around $58 million, but it could drop significantly if a hard cap were introduced.

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Chris Webber and Filipino Manny V. Pangilinan Could Team up to Buy Kings

Though it appeared to be a certainty that the Kings would move from Sacramento to Anaheim, the city was awarded an extra year to hold onto the team. There was a check list of items the NBA advised the city to fulfill in order to keep the franchise long-term, and the most important requirement was to build a new arena. It will be difficult for the cash-strapped current owners, the Maloofs, to hang on to the team, so there is room for new ownership. One potential group of owners is led by Chris Webber and would be backed by Filipino businessman Manny V. Pangilinan, according to the Inquirer.

The Inquirer, which is a Filipino news source, says “Webber met with Pangilinan, chair of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company—among other firms—during a recent trip to Sacramento, where he visited the Kings’ home stadium, the Arco Arena.”

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The Wiz of Odds Exposes Exorbitant Spending by Schools in Bowl Games

Our buddy Jay Christensen, who runs the college football site The Wiz of Odds, has spent the past several weeks working on an investigative report that exposes the college football bowl system. Jay obtained expense reports for 56 of the 70 teams that participated in bowl games last season and reveals that the bowl tradition turns out to be a gigantic waste of money for many schools. We’re talking about millions of dollars spent by public universities which are funded by tax payers, and students in the form of tuition. If that’s not enough reason to get you angry, more details Jay uncovers will.

Christensen reveals that on average, schools spend $1.31 million to make bowl trips. He also says around 25% of all bowl-related expenses are due to “absorbed tickets,” which is the amount of tickets forced onto schools in order to participate in the game. One school spent $4.28 million to participate in a bowl game, the highest amount of the 56 schools for which Christensen had the expense report.

Christensen explains the process he went through to obtain an impressive 56 expense reports of the 70 teams that played in bowl games this past season. He obtained the reports through public records inquiries, so private schools had no obligation to provide him with the information. He explains the process of going through the reports and how they can be fudged. For instance, one trick by schools was leaving the amount of money coaches made in bonuses for reaching a bowl out of the expense report.

Jay will start unveiling school-by-school breakdowns this week, but for now, make sure you check out the entire overview for his report. It will likely blow you away. And make sure to stop by The Wiz of Odds throughout the week for more.

As one commenter in the Sports Journalists forum noted, the mainstream media just got housed by a blogger on this one. Nicely done, Jay.

UFC To Pay Fighters to Use Twitter

Generally speaking, Twitter is nothing but trouble in the world of professional sports.  While there are plenty of players who have used Twitter as a tool to interact with fans and make themselves more accessible, there a ton of others who have abused the social networking tool and used it to lighten their wallets.  We have seen players fined for tweeting during halftime and others ruin the public’s perception of them by tweeting about extremely sensitive subjects.  Athletes like Chad Ochocinco have used their Twitter account to create a complete sideshow.

UFC president Dana White views Twitter quite differently from big wigs like David Stern and Roger Goodell.  White, who is an active Twitter user, recently announced that he will be paying fighters for using Twitter.  According to MMAFighting.com, beginning June 1 UFC and Strikeforce fighters will be awarded bonuses based on how many followers they have and whether or not they tweet creatively.  At the end of each quarter, three bonuses of $5,000 will be given to the fighters with the most new followers, highest percentage of new followers, and most creative tweets (judged by White).

When all the bonuses are paid out, the UFC will end up shelling out $240,000 for Twitter incentives.  With the way the beast has grown, I’m fairly confident that’s a number they can handle.  If you think paying athletes to use Twitter is asking for trouble, remember that you’re questioning the idea of a man who took the UFC from nothing into a fighting league that has arguably surpassed boxing in popularity.  If Dana White says it’s a good idea, it’s probably a good idea.