Eight years ago today – July 15, 2006 – Twitter was born. Officially, at least. The very first tweet ever had actually been sent, by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, four months prior. But that was a beta version of Twitter, when it was still going by the trying-too-hard name of “twttr.” And man, have our lives changed since then. It’s safe to say Twitter is the number one way most of us get our news these days. Watching an NBA game has become an interactive, multi-media experience, with real time reactions filling our feed. Imagine last week’s major free agent announcements without #WojBombs or Chris Broussard’s sources; NBA reporters are basically on the job 24/7 during key periods.
Twitter also took away the middle man and gave public figures direct access to fans (and vice versa). It’s an open platform for all. And the NBA has arguably taken advantage of Twitter better than any other sports league in the world. The game lends itself to social media in ways that are mutually beneficial: basketball highlights — the monster dunks, the ankle-breaking crossovers, etc. — are short and flashy, key ingredients for viral content; NBA players, partly because they’re not covered in helmet and masks, and partly because they’re just a lively bunch, are more recognizable than other American athletes; and the NBA has been, inarguably, the most social media savvy of the four major US sports (NBA has 10.6 million Twitter followers. NFL and MLB has 6.9 and 3.7 respectively. And let’s not even get into Weibo, the Chinese Twitter…).
It should come as no surprise that the NBA and Twitter have become so intertwined. After all, Twitter’s logo – the bird – is named Larry, after Larry Legend. In honor of Twitter’s eighth birthday, we at Triangle Offense are going to hand out our own NBA Twitter user awards…
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Most Obvious Tweeter
Magic Johnson is the greatest point guard of all time and one of maybe four guys with a legit case for GOAT. But man, is his social media (and TV) game a bit…cheesy. His tweets juggle between corny excitement and stating the complete obvious, like the gem above. Or this truly insightful look at the Chicago Bulls. Or this one about Kawhi Leonard, which came the day after Game 3 of the Finals.1 of 8
Not only does Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters retweet praises from fans regularly, he basically disses No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins with this tweet. He’s also against any Cavs acquisition that might dig into his court time (even if it’ll help the team). When his team was rumored to be interested in Gordon Hayward, Waiters retweeted this one. He stands firm in his belief…in himself.2 of 8
Most Responsive Tweeter
Dwight Howard seems to spend the most time responding to fans on Twitter. I mean, a scroll through the Houston Rocket’s Twitter timeline shows a stream of one word answers directed to fans – over 40 responses on July 12 alone. He’s just about the only NBA superstar to do this – you ain’t going to see Kobe or LeBron respond so often to random tweets.
But whether or not this is actually a good thing is up for debate. While getting a response from Howard might make the average kid’s day. Howard has been known to lose his cool and snap back at fans. He should maybe try being LESS responsive, though.3 of 8
Most Thoughtful Tweeter
Jared Dudley is known as one of the most media-friendly guys in the league and his Twitter account almost seems like it’s run by an NBA blogger. He interacts with NBA reporters regularly and tweets longform articles on the league. Last week, Dudley took to Twitter to speak out against the NBA’s flawed salary system and how the players were completely shafted during the last lockout.4 of 8
Most Corporate Tweeter
The only way Kobe Bryant could be topped on this front is if Michael Jordan himself ran a Twitter account (sorry Kobe, second again…). Just about every tweet from the Mamba includes a hashtag or two that is either a slogan from one of his Nike ads (#UrWelcome; #differentanimalsamebeast) or a third-person-self-reference (#vino; #mambaaintgottime4that). When he’s not promoting products with his tweets, he uploads photos with a watermark of his Twitter handle. His promo game is on point like his footwork.5 of 8
Most Likely to Get Fined. Again.
I know, I know, giving this title to JR Smith – he of the infamous butt tweet – is too easy. And Smith has cleaned up his Twitter act a bit since (though it’s hilarious to scroll through Smith’s followed accounts and see a string of scantily-clad female avatars). But still, between poking fun at females and hitting on them, it’s hard to top good ol’ JR. Especially when he brags about it, too.
Most "Real" TweeterThough he’s known to have a Twitter outburst or two (or five) every now and then, Matt Barnes is a great Twitter follow, mostly because he answer fan questions with legitimate answers.Here’s Barnes answering the hot topic of the past few years — Kobe or LeBron? Barnes once responded to a fan’s question about his thoughts on Paul Pierce going to the Clippers. Unlike Dion Waiters, Barnes would be happy to go back to the bench if it makes the team better. He’s also called out the league’s double standard on fines.
Mark As Spam TweeterYou know that friend whose Facebook feed is filled with Foursquare check-ins? NBA journeyman Mike James‘ Twitter account is a version of that. He loves to tweet his Instagram pics, like, eight of them in a row. Problem is Twitter and Instagram don’t actually get along, and the former blocked off the latter from showing on its feed almost two years ago. To compound mattters, James doesn’t bother to describe the photo, so all you see is a string of tweets from him saying “just posted a photo,” followed by the Instagram link, which you then have to click and open a new browser to see.And you know, if it’s an interesting picture — I dunno, maybe a shot of the Eiffel Tower or the Grand Canyon — or a funny meme, ok, but no, most of James’ Instagram pics are selfies like this. Though, he’s in great shape for a 39-year-old who’s on the verge of retirement.8 of 8