League Rumors

Some may argue the NBA is the best U.S. professional sports league on social media. As the new season gets into full swing this week, the league announced it renewed and expanded its partnership with Snapchat. The extended deal will allow fans attending games to incorporate NBA-themed Bitmojis and Lenses into their Snapchat Stories. Additionally, fans at games have the option to display their Bitmoji on the arena jumbotron. With the revamped partnership, the NBA is the first professional sports league to partner with Bitmoji for custom Bitmoji packs.
Twitter emojis have not only become a trend in 2016 but an expected part of the social experience for teams and fans. Around the 2016 NBA All-Star Game in Toronto, the NBA and Twitter collaborated on 24 Twitter emojis for each player in addition to emojis for the TNT broadcast crew. It will be no different for 2016-17 as all 30 teams will have their own emoji, the league announced on Monday. While 27 of the teams internally decided on their own emojis, three franchises — the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Oklahoma City Thunder — allowed their fans to vote for their emoji.
“When I was at the league, we commonly referred to an NBA court as an ‘NBA team stage’ (because) they resemble a Broadway stage in material and size,” said Tom O’Grady, a native Chicagoan and founder and chief creative officer at Gameplan Creative. He formerly served as the NBA’s first creative director. Court design has become an art form, with teams pushing the boundaries further each year. We asked O’Grady, an expert on the topic, about the state of that art and where it’s headed. How much does court design matter? In baseball, besides how the grounds crew cuts the grass pattern — all baseball diamonds are pretty much the same. In the NFL, end-zone art is one of the few areas a team can brand its identity. The NHL? Center ice. In the MLS? FIFA says ‘no’ to any pitch art. But in the NBA the chance to extend a team’s brand underfoot is pretty wide open — which is pretty cool when executed properly.
When I first joined the league, we only designed the NBA All-Star Game courts and courts for NBA international games. The formula was to use NBA red, white and blue only. After the All-Star Game in Charlotte in 1991, I challenged then-Commissioner (David) Stern if we could introduce the host team’s colors into the overall color and branding of that city’s game and he agreed. A court and game that really revolutionized event and team courts of the mid-’90’s — and beyond — was the 1995 NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix. That court design broke many of the “unwritten rules” for how NBA courts (and college courts for that matter) would be designed. After the success of the event-branded look in Phoenix, teams began to call upon the NBA Creative Services division to provide court designs when they would change their identity or when purchasing a new court.
Jeff Zillgitt: Here’s some interesting news, which NBA has been pushing since 2011 CBA: NBA, NBPA to introduce HGH blood testing into anti-drug program. First violation for a positive HGH test will result in a 20-game suspension. Second violation: 40 games. Third violation: dismissal from NBA. All NBA players will be subject to three random, unannounced HGH tests annually. Players also subject to reasonable-cause testing for HGH.