In April 2009, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, 11 years old and despondent over bullying, took his own life. His suicide captured national attention and turned Sirdeaner Walker, his mother, into a campaigns.
In September, the “Extreme Makeover” crew visited Springfield’s Northampton Avenue to give the family a new home and a new beginning. Hundreds of volunteers and well-wishers turned out. A special guest was there, too.
Ray Allen of the 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.
But that powerful moment was not part of the two-hour broadcast Friday night. In fact, every scene involving Allen was deleted from the show — an odd casualty of the lockout.
When the N.B.A. shut down in July, the relationship between the league and its players was severed, and a legal barrier was erected. No player likenesses could appear in association with N.B.A. programming or products. The league’s Web sites and its cable channel were scrubbed of all current players. In addition, any TV show receiving permission to use N.B.A. “marks” — licensed apparel and memorabilia — could not also feature an N.B.A. player. This is where “Extreme Makeover” ran into a conflict.
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.
Apparently, N.B.A. officials notified the show’s producers about the restrictions in September. But Allen said he did not learn that he would be cut from the show until Thursday night, in an e-mail from the producers. He was told it was “because of the lockout.” He found the news troubling.
“It wasn’t about me being on TV; I didn’t care about that,” Allen said in a phone interview. “The first thing I thought of was how devastated this young kid Charles was going to be, when he sits down with whole town of Springfield and they don’t show the human side of his story and his emotions and having his favorite player sitting in his room. I’m sure he told everybody in school that I was there.”
As Allen spoke, he was driving to Charles’s school to host an assembly on bullying (at Allen’s request) — and to make sure all of Charles’s classmates knew about his famous friend with the sweet 3-point stroke, even if they did not appear together on TV.
“I just want to be there for him,” Allen said. “He gets to bring his big brother in, and everybody gets to know he’s with me today.”
A representative for the Walt Disney Company, one of the show’s production partners, did not respond to requests to make the producers available for comment.
In the meeting with Charles recorded for the show, Allen did not wear N.B.A. apparel, nor were any league items in the shot. But in one deleted scene, Allen presented his No. 20 jersey to Charles, in a room filled with sports memorabilia including Celtics items. That would have violated the N.B.A.’s edict.
“During the lockout, all use of N.B.A. marks in conjunction with N.B.A. players was suspended because we did not have the rights to use them,” Tim Frank, a league spokesman, said.
The mere appearance of N.B.A.-licensed items in some scenes apparently created enough liability concern that the producers decided to cut Allen from the show, even the scenes in which no N.B.A. products appeared.
The 149-day lockout was resolved Nov. 26. Player images began returning to the league’s Web sites Thursday night, after the players’ union was reconstituted. By that time, however, it was too late for producers to edit Allen back into “Extreme Makeover.”
After an inquiry from The New York Times, N.B.A. officials contacted the show’s producers on Friday to say the legal concerns were now moot. ABC, a broadcast partner of the league, subsequently posted Allen’s scenes with Charles on and .
Still, because of the legal ambiguities, the N.B.A. missed a chance to have one of its stars appear on prime-time television performing good deeds, at a time when the league needs all the positive publicity it can get.
“It’s unfortunate and disappointing that Ray’s efforts weren’t part of the television show,” Frank said, “but we are extremely proud of how Ray supported this family and the way he represented our league.”