Pace and Space Broke Basketball Reference. Whoops!

On Tuesday, June 8, Pace and Space’s secured server (that little lock symbol in the browser bar that indicates an SSL certificate) went live. What this means in practical terms is that if we decide down the line to do anything that requires information to be encrypted (selling merch, creating a login-based forum or comments section, or just plain getting Google to improve our search rank because the algorithm prioritizes secure sites), the infrastructure is in place on the server end now.

Trouble was, because the security didn’t work at first (if you were here and got a bunch of 502 errors while trying to load the site in the last two weeks or so of May and the first week of June, you know what I’m talking about—otherwise, suffice to say “it didn’t work”), a mirror of the unsecured server got essentially mass uploaded all at once, with every article for three weeks pinging the site’s RSS feed as the traffic from the old server got redirected to the secure one.

And boy oh boy, did that ever make the traffic stats awkward, because if you pick an article on this site from the front page and click any of the names mentioned in it, you’ll get sent to Basketball Reference’s player page for whoever you clicked…and you’ll notice that Pace and Space is in the player news feed…rather often, with all the referral links dated June 8, the day the new server went live.


Tuesday was the second biggest traffic day in the history of this site. Wednesday through Friday were way above average as well, and on all three days, while Google was still the biggest source of incoming traffic (on a normal day, it represents an average of 80 percent of incoming referral links and 70 percent of the site traffic as a whole, but Tuesday it was more like 60 percent), Basketball Reference Player Linker clicks were, if not the most the site’s ever seen, in the top two or three for traffic days.

So basically, having three weeks’ worth of site content, even at the glacial pace this site uploads since going to a less-frequent but deeper content model in the 2019-2020 season, uploaded all at once to one of the biggest reference databases in the sport broke their player news archives and we put up stats like a Westbrook triple-double.

(No, I’m not going to fully name-drop players in this piece; I don’t want to create meaningless traffic to prove a point.)

The upshot of all of the above is that I learned something Tuesday that’s both pretty neat and “whoops, sorry guys, didn’t mean to do that” all in one whack.

This tiny little hobbyist site out in the nosebleed seats of the NBA media managed to look like a massive source of news and information about seemingly every player in the league for a day. This was less a Westbrook triple-double in that sense and more a guy who usually plays in garbage time getting a start late in the season and going for 70 points.

So…yeah. Pace and Space broke Basketball Reference. That was…kind of cool.