Welcome to a new series on ReadWebWeb, which we're calling 'Mainstream Web Watch'. Over the coming weeks I will be exploring a whole range of websites for RWW - from sports sites, to grocery store sites, to government websites, to banking sites, and much more.
We're starting with a sports website that has probably peaked in popularity just this week, the NBA basketball website.
Firstly, a personal note on why I've started Mainstream Web Watch. One of the things I'm most interested in these days is how new Web technologies are infiltrating regular non-techie industries. I think we geeks tend to lose ourselves in the Twitters and FriendFeeds of the world, perhaps overlooking what's happening in the real world. So this series aims to put some balance into tech blogging :-)
So, I'm a basketball fan and I've been tracking the NBA finals with much interest this year. I'm a long-time Lakers supporter (although my name suggests I should be a Boston fan!). This year's final was a dream match-up for the NBA marketers, as it revived the most famous rivalry in NBA history: Lakers vs Celtics. So I wondered how has this story been covered on NBA's official website?
As of today, here is the NBA.com homepage:
Click here for full page version
As expected, it's dominated by news and pictures of the winning Boston Celtics team. The homepage is extremely busy, with loads of links and information including results, stats, fantasy leagues and videos.
What's Web 2.0 on NBA.com?
The NBA site makes great use of video, with a whole section devoted to video highlights of basketball. The latest videos are in WMV format, which meant I had to download a plugin called Flip4Mac (I'm on a Mac) - a collection of QuickTime components that enables you to play, import and export Windows Media files. A 10.7 MB download later, I was able to watch the NBA videos.
A great feature was the NBA Highlight Mixer, which enables you to mix your own videos:
I especially enjoyed the NBA Dunks section! Similar to YouTube and other popular video sharing sites, NBA Highlight Mixer allows you to view videos by popularity and by ratings. Here's one showcasing Lebron James (note: requires Flash):
Regarding the Lakers-Celtics history, I'm pleased to say there were plenty of classic videos of the 80's Lakers vs Celtics clashes.
Back to the NBA homepage, there seemed to be a decent selection of RSS feeds:
There was a veritable feast of other clickable options on the NBA site - everything from opinion polls, to fantasy leagues, to mobile alerts, to dinky fun things like the NBA Nickname Generator (mine is Richard "Rocksplitter" MacManus).
And of course, what could be more web 2.0 than blogs! NBA.com has those too (and no we're not talking about Mark Cuban's, who as Dallas Mavericks owner is probably the NBA's most famous unofficial blogger). One of the more popular NBA blogs is from Gilbert Arenas, who is a current player - a guard for the Washington Wizards. In his latest post, he starts off by debunking a Washington Post blog rumor that he's giving up blogging - "I'll give you all a hesitant no, this is not my last blog", Arenas (kind of) assures fans. He goes on to say about his blogging:
"You'll hear all the negative stuff about me blogging like, "Oh, you said you want to play Cleveland, you called out Cleveland, you're crazy ..." It could be one little quote in a long blog post from me, but that's the only thing people talk about when I could have five other stories in that blog post. But, it's just like everything, people pick and choose what they want to read. You just got to do your job to be entertaining.
You give your readers and insight of your life and what's going on. It's a risk. But if they hate you, they're going to hate you for telling the truth and I can live with that. The bad part about it is that you can kill yourself with your own sword."
More than a few tech bloggers can relate to that! Overall Arenas' blog is excellent and I'm keen to read more of it next season.
There's an overwhelming amount of stuff on NBA.com, enough to keep click-happy fans happy for a long time. NBA.com is using the latest web technologies to good effect too, especially on the video side.
What do you think of NBA.com? Also, what are some unofficial NBA websites out there that are making great use of the Social Web, which perhaps the official site could learn more from?
Update: The Widgets Lab blog has a post about NBA.com widgets, noting that they are "web friendly and socially acceptable (works on Myspace & Facebook)".