How did we get to Twitter‘s vastly growing popularity reach the sports realm, specifically in the NBA?
- Did ESPN pioneer its modern day bandwagon, using sideline reporters and on-air references as a marketing tool? “gonna intv yao soon — any questions you want me to ask?” — a tweet from ESPN’s Lisa Salters.
- Or the athletes themselves that bridged an unprecedented gap between athletes and fans? “I’m at the fashion sq mall, any1 touches me gets 2 tickets, tag me and say yur twit u hv 20 min” — a tweet from Shaq.
- What about teams, who use it to steal your favorite newspaper beat writer’s thunder and break news directly to followers. Writes Suns blogger Michael Schwartz: I read about [Alvin Gentry’s contract extension] on one of my readers’ Twitter accounts, and Suns.com’s Jeramie McPeek started his second graf on the hiring story by writing, “as announced moments ago via the team’s official Twitter profile.”
Either way, the term “tweeted” is becoming just as popular as “flagrant 2” these days. The NBA in particular has made a lasting impression on the Twitter community as the most popular professional sport to have all aspects — reporters, athletes, teams, owners — actively participating in the new way of social networking.
Oh, but there’s one more dimension: Referees.
For better or worse, Dick Bavetta apparently succumbed to the peer pressure and created his own Twitter account.
And I use the term apparently because unlike Facebook, Twitter does not require much identification validation when creating an account. (The reason why Shaq’s username is THE_REAL_SHAQ, because an impostor beat him to it).
Mark Cuban, the center of a lot of recent attention, compared Twitter to MySpace, due to its lack of requiring users to supply a true identity — or at least they try. MySpace also saw a huge surge in popularity in its beginning stages, until Facebook came along, and users realized that MySpace was evolving into the capitol of Dateline’s investigations.
It appears that Twitter is following the same path. Anonymity on the Internet was last decade. In order to become a popular social networking site, people want accountability and visibility from its users.
And that’s what Cuban wanted.
It’s probably fair to assume Cuban received an immense amount of flack on his Twitter for his dispute with Kenyon Martin’s mother. Here’s your favorite Internet billionaire’s series of thoughts after the out pour of criticism he experienced online:
“Twitter becoming the Myspace of micromessaging. People creating unlimited accts, gaming numbers, gaming comments while FB pages improve #fb”
“On Twitter Moron patrol. Blocking venomous idiots. Shame twitter doesnt require real names. FB fan pages dont have same problem #fb”
“Thats what we get now with no real identity on Twitter.”
So is Bavetta the real Dick Bavetta on Twitter? Who knows, but it’s interesting to see a referree subject himself to fan interaction. Unlike any other aspect of the game, referees typically stay silent under the radar. They’re unbiased, emotionless robots that patrole the game and ensure the justice of its rules.
But even more so than the athletes themselves, refs can often be the center of attention and controversy. The NBA’s new fad is to publicly apologize for every time a ref calls an iffy flagerant, technical, etc., during these chippy Playoffs. Never is it the ref himself that comes out with statements, for obvious reasons.
So how will Twitter play into that role? On the NBA players twitter account, the bio says: “Where stars becoming human happens.”
But refs aren’t human. Or at least suppose to be.
Below is a list of NBA players on twitter, courtesy of BlogsWithBalls.com:
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