The NBA Is All a-Twitter

Last Friday night just after the Mavericks/Nuggets game, Dallas owner Mark Cuban continued his ongoing battles with JR Smith and NBA referees — and he did it in one sentence on Twitter:

how do they not call a tech on JR Smith for coming off the bench to taunt our player on the ground ?

A few minutes later he called the crew out for previous issues between the team, again via Twitter. Then Sunday morning came this Tweet:

just found out got fined25k by nba.) nice

Saturday morning, the Clippers' Baron Davis announced he is battling an ulcer via Twitter. (How did he get an ulcer, worrying about the fate of the Clippers?) The Bucks Charlie Villanueva sent out a tweet during halftime of the Celtics game — then got nailed by coach Skiles for it. Shaquille O'Neal proved that he can do what he wants when a couple days later he tweeted during halftime. Of course, Shaq’s coach Alvin Gentry tweets as well (and shows just how much NBA coaches worry).

No league has embraced Twitter like the NBA. It is sweeping the league faster than Leandro Barbosa on the break. Teams do it, players do it, an owner does it and even the league itself tweets.

If you’ve read this far asking, “What is Twitter?” you are in good company — plenty of NBA coaches and front office people have been asking the same question in recent months. Twitter is the rapidly growing social messaging system, where people can send random thoughts, observations and updates on what they are doing to anyone who signs up to receive the notices. For those who haven’t figured it out yet, those messages are called “tweets.”

Like your grandma would say, all the cool kids are doing it now. And since the NBA is make up of players who are young — and part of its core demographic is young — twitter has caught on like wildfire around the league.

And it has caught on with the league also — there is the official NBA Twitter feed, filled with game updates that are close to real time. Many of the most technologically savvy teams — Cuban’s Mavericks, the Suns and many others — have official Twitter feeds sending out everything from ticket specials to updates on games. And those are just the official tweets, every NBA blog seemingly has an account as well.

It seems like every day five new players have Twitter feeds, although most are as dull as the tweets of a 13-year-old girl. “Landed in Toronto” or “shootaround then a nap before gametime” don’t provide much insight.

But players like Baron Davis and Shaq have embraced the technology. Davis has tweeted about his ulcer, him picking Duke to lose in the NCAA Tournament and how cool Toronto is.

Shaq is the Twitter king. Turned on to the idea by the tech staff with the Suns, he now has more than 471,000 followers. He plays Twitter tag, telling people where he is and saying the first one to show up and touch him wins tickets to the game. He lets people know what he is thinking. He responds to about 50 other people’s tweets a day.

In a world where there seems to be a big wall between the players and the fans, Twitter seems to break that wall down. Sure, it does that in a controlled, marketing friendly way, but all in all, that’s one less brick in the wall.

And that’s good for fans.

Kurt Helin's Lakers blog Forum Blue & Gold has a Twitter account, too.

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