There are certain universal questions that every person must, at one point or another, ask themselves:
"What is the purpose of life?"
"Is the nature of man inherently good or evil?"
"Why does NBA superstar Chris Bosh own CockBlocks.com?"
We here at Globe Tech HQ can proudly say we are able to answer at least one of those questions.
Being long-suffering Toronto Raptors "fans," we have spent a lot of time recently reading about Mr. Bosh, the all-star forward who left Toronto this summer to join the NBA's version of the bully from every Karate Kid movie ever made, the Miami Heat.
But it was during our lamentation of Mr. Bosh's departure that we remembered The-Artist-Formerly-Known-As-CB4 is also the star of one of our favourite tech stories of the past year. For you see, Mr. Bosh not only "owns" the paint, he also owns 800 or so bizarre, bizarre Internet domain names.
The story goes like this: last year, Mr. Bosh's lawyers took a guy named Luis Zavala to court. Mr. Zavala was the quintessential domain-name squatter - he would buy domain names referencing famous celebrities, and just run junk ads on the actual sites. Mr. Zavala's specialty, it seems, were high school, College and NBA basketball players. One of his domains wash ChrisBosh.com.
Mr. Bosh won the case, and a $120,000 judgment. But that wasn't all. The basketball star's lawyers convinced the judge to hand over all of Mr. Zavala's virtual stable. Overnight, Mr. Bosh became the proud owner of hundreds of websites named after boxers, Mexican wrestlers and, for some reason, singer Rob Zombie's wife.
Mr. Bosh's law firm has a full list (PDF) of the domain names. The descriptions of what the website names mean are often a great source of unintended comedy. The law firm offers the following description for CockBlocks.com: "Urban Dictionary definition: 'One who prevents another from scoring sexually' "
Mr. Bosh immediately announced he would give away his domain names for free to the hard-working celebrities whose identities had been so shamelessly appropriated. Say Guadeloupian basketball sensation Ludovic Vaty wanted his domain name back. Mr. Bosh would give it to him for free, no questions asked.
Well, maybe one question. Mr. Bosh said he'd love to talk to said celebrities about how they could partner up to create an Internet marketing strategy using the NBA star's own social media company, the subtly named MAX DEAL Technologies. No pressure, though.
Almost a year after the September 2009 court ruling that made Mr. Bosh a Web real estate baron, we wanted to know how that whole thing was working out. So what did we do? We went through the entire list of almost 800 sites, and checked each one. Why, yes, it did take an ungodly amount of time.
The results aren't spectacular. Of the hundreds of domain names, the vast majority still redirect back to Mr. Bosh's law firm's website, or return a "server not found" error, indicating that either Mr. Bosh still owns the sites, or that he let them go and nobody has bothered to buy them again. In all, we found only 46 domain names that appeared to have been handed over to somebody other than Mr. Bosh and were functioning or at least accessible websites. It's difficult to tell if these were secured directly from Mr. Bosh's representatives, or simply registered again by a different party after their original registration expired.
Some of the most recognizable domain names on the list still remain unclaimed, including those named after the best player ever to put on a Lakers uniform (Coby Karl), the best selection in the 2003 NBA draft (Darko Milicic) and the man with the best name in basketball (Nene Hilario).
(On a somewhat related note, staring at athletes' websites for three hours has convinced us that most of them are a wasteland of auto-playing Youtube videos, cartoonish fonts and very poor photography choices. Dear Brandon Bass: we don't think the photo you chose for your "Coming Soon!" page is going to attract the kind of traffic you think it's going to attract... oh wait, that's not the basketball player Brandon Bass).
Ironically, Mr. Bosh also owns BryanColangelo.com. In fact, at one point, Mr. Bosh owned about 10 or so domain names titled after his former Raptors teammates. We find it strange that at no time during the past NBA season did the subject come up in the locker room. After a tough loss, did Mr. Bosh really never turn to Andrea Bargnani and say, "Hey, I know you're bummed out about going 0-for-64 and accidentally passing the ball to the Phoenix Gorilla on our last possession. Here, have your domain name back, it'll cheer you up."
But not all of the "celebrities" on the list are basketball players, though. Shockingly, deceased crime boss John Gotti has not stepped forward to claim his domain name from Mr. Bosh.
There is, of course, another small problem. Sometimes, several people have the same name. Mr. Bosh's domain name list describes "De Le Hei" as a mixed martial arts fighter. But the De Le Hei who has since taken over the site seems less concerned with mixed martial arts and more concerned with playing the Mongolian Jew harp. The web site ostensibly saved for a Texas high school football player named Reginald Perry now belongs to another man with the same name who calls himself a "money coach" and declares on his website that "Success is 'Senseualized' before Manifested."
We really hope Mr. Perry did get the website from MAX DEAL, because we can only assume the following conversation would have taken place:
Mr. Perry: Hello, I would like to take ownership of reginaldperry.com.
MAX DEAL: Well, our papers say Reginald Perry is a high-school football player, and you appear to be a middle-aged "money coach."
Mr. Perry: I believe success is senseualized before manifested.
MAX DEAL: Uhh, ok, whatever, you can use the domain name.
Mr. Perry: The senseualizing has begun.
But at least domain names titled after people can eventually be claimed by someone. Problem is, a lot of sites on Mr. Bosh's list aren't named after people. Who can lay claim to August14.com? Do the Dallas Cowboys get first shot at cowboysenespanol.com? Which extra-terrestrial race gets first dibs on mixedmartianarts.com? These are all serious questions that must be addressed.
But perhaps Mr. Bosh's domain-name stable will pay off in the long run. Many if not most of the names on the list are for high-school and college players, who have yet to make it big. Perhaps when they do, they will want to sign contracts to develop an awesome social media strategy with MAX DEAL.
We would link to the MAX DEAL website, but it doesn't seem to exist.
Most importantly, however, Mr. Bosh still maintains control of the true gem on the list of 800 or so domain names: CockBlocks.com. Although we're sure the Miami Heat superstar will give it up as soon as MAX DEAL hears back from Mr. Blocks.