Professional athletes love social media. They take to the different platforms to interact with each other, their fans, their haters, teammates and everything in between. Since my rekindled relationship with Twitter last summer I did notice however, that the Twitter for the Big Four sports leagues in the United States is vastly different. The MLB is extremely strict with what content is put out on Twitter, the NFL tends to be very professional and well kept, NHL is quieter but the fans are ruthless, and the NBA has by far the most interaction. Fans who follow stars of the NBA can feel like they almost know the players personally. We can tune into the beefs, the free agencies, the highlights, and the trolling. I believe that due to the NBA Twitter, and its laissez-faire approach, it has helped the league grow not only within the United States, but internationally as well.
When a big-time player is up for free agency, fans and players take to Twitter to encourage the free agent to come play for their city/team. Most sports media outlets tend to love the Twitter emoji wars when a big name starts to visit new cities to see where he wants to take his talents the next year. This past summer was a fantastic example and very relatable to the Boston area when star small forward Gordon Hayward was up for free agency after finishing his contract with the Utah Jazz. When it was reported that Hayward would be visiting the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, and Utah Jazz (in that order), his teammate, center, Rudy Gobert started the emoji mayhem.
This encouragement to stay with the jazz by telling Gordon that Miami is trash and that the Celts were poop got other players to start getting involved to coax the brilliant athlete to bolster their lineup. Isiah Thomas, the then Celtics beloved point guard, and Miami Heat breakout center Hassan Whiteside jumped in to tell Gordon they wanted him.
These “cryptic” tweets by the players to interact with each other gives fans that feeling of involvement. It gets any NBA fan excited to see if this encouragement will turn to beef and carry into the season and how the players will treat each other on the court. Although the interactions between players is great, the fans go over the top to try to sway the free agents to come to their beloved city. For example, with LeBron James’ free agency coming up this summer, fans have bought billboards to encourage the self proclaimed “King” to sign with their team and hopefully win a ring. Although these are real billboards, once they are put on Twitter, all sports outlets catch wind of it and discuss the matter immediately.
If you’re an NBA fan, it isn’t news that Kevin Durant is bad at social media. When he signed with the Golden State Warriors in 2016, Twitter exploded. “He abandoned OKC”, “He couldn’t win a championship by himself, he’s not that great”, “Welcome Kevin!” were all among the various responses. This obviously created tensions between Durant and old teammate Russell Westbrook. With Russ and the Thunder down 3-1 to the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs, Twitter has questioned how good Russell Westbrook really is. One comment on Instagram about Russ’s talents was liked by Kevin Durant (he is so bad at social media it blows my mind).
It’s crazy to think that these multimillion dollar athletes are liking Instagram comments and then getting torn apart on Twitter for it. Finally, once again with Kevin Durant, earlier this season was caught using a “burner account” to interact with fans by essentially telling them to shut up when putting down his talents. He accidentally used his main account to reply to a fan and was caught in the act due to the use of third person.
At the time, this only intensified the bitter ending between him and the OKC franchise. These interactions show that fans can literally reach out to the players and get responses, only furthering the argument that the NBA Twitter makes the league that much more interesting and fun to watch/interact with.
Now enough about the beef and free agencies. Let’s get to the real reason that fans love NBA Twitter. The fun trolling and interactions that players have with each other on the platform. The best example of this is the young and extremely active social media stars of the Los Angeles Lakers. The young stars troll each other constantly, and show fans that they are normal people just like the rest of us. One of the most recent tweets from Lonzo Ball waking up his girlfriend at 3:14 AM to let her and Twitter know that he won his first game of Fortnite.
Lonzo’s teammate Josh Hart trolled him soon after claiming to be a proud father after Lonzo finally won his first game.
He then claimed to be the king of Fortnite and was then trolled by his other teammate who is notorious for his relentless teasing on Twitter, Kyle Kuzma.
And then finally, Kuz’s teasing of Hart again when Hart took to Twitter to ask for zero communication because he was listening to the new J Cole album and didn’t want to be distracted.
This playful back and forth between teammates makes the Lakers a lovable team that fans want to watch and get to know personally. It creates a family image of the organization full of teasing about age, style, music choice and anything under the sun.
**Full disclosure, I meant to post this blog yesterday but super happy I didn’t because of this next part**
For those who pay attention to the sports/music world, Meek Mill, infamous Philadelphia rapper has been talked about a lot with the #FreeMeek movement. He was the artist that the Philadelphia Eagles ran out to for the Super Bowl. Even Robert Kraft recently came out and said he’s a huge fan of the rapper and hope he gets freed. Well, today, Meek Mill will be leaving prison. You’d think that his friends and family are going to pick him up right? Nope. The co-owners of the Philadelphia 76ers and Kevin Hart are going to pick him up. NBA Twitter has been a part of #FreeMeek for a while now, and it is highly anticipated that he will be attending tonight’s playoff game against the Miami Heat.
Personally, I can’t wait to see how the crowd and the rest of Twitter reacts to the news of the now freed rapper.
As I mentioned before, I think that the NBA Twitter is the best league/fans for the platform. With interactions amongst reporters, players, fans, front office and everything in between, the league has gained a significant following. Unlike other leagues, the NBA allows anyone to post highlights of games without any repercussions. It is said that the NBA has taken over as America’s most popular sport. It seems to be the future sport for young fans due to the face paced tempo, high scoring, and little contact/injury sport. Twitter has made the NBA the most relatable league, embrace debate. Let me know what you think in the comments!