Twitter: The NBA's Version of Cheers
Because I write about the NBA and work with NBA players on social media I try to follow every single person with some sort of connection to the NBA. Following all of these people has made the experience of watching an NBA game that much more fun. I get the communal sports bar experience without having to go around a bunch of drunks that don't really know what they are talking about.
I was in a sports bar during LeBron James' 25 straight points outburst against the Pistons in Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals. The people around me were excited and it was an OK atmosphere to be around, but half the people were drunks who had no idea what they were talking about.
Jump to the 2009-10 season where a good amount of the people affiliated with the NBA are on Twitter. It's created a virtual sports bar where people that actually watch and understand the game come to talk about that night's happenings. When I'm watching a game I always have Twitter open. The stream of information that pours out on game nights from these NBA junkies makes the game experience that much better.
Let's take Friday night's game experience. The Knicks upset the Hawks at home in a tightly-contested overtime battle. The story of the game was Nate Robinson returning to drop 41 points on the Hawks after receiving 14 straight DNP-CD's from his coach, Mike D'Antoni. I follow New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks beat writers, so I was getting immediate feedback from their perspective of what was happening as the game was going on. I also follow both the Knicks and the Hawks official Twitter accounts as well as the accounts of some of their respective P.R. and marketing teams, so I was getting the information from the teams' perspective as the game was going on. When you mix in the general NBA writers, coaches and NBA players that I follow, I had a real-time conversation about the game in front of me that was almost as fun to participate in as actually watching Nate drop 41 on the Hawks. And I must not have been the only one doing this, as Nate Robinson became a trending topic on Twitter during the game.
By the end of the game NBA players were all sending congratulatory tweets to Nate. As well, conversations were erupting over the issue of whether this proved that D'Antoni was wrong for sitting Nate for 14 games. I work with Nate on social media, so obviously I have my own skewed opinions. But it was fun to hop in and argue with some of the Knicks bloggers and beat writers over the issue.
Later that night, Kobe Bryant hit his third game-winner of the season, crushing the hearts of the young Sacramento Kings. Following the conversation on Twitter immediately after the game was pretty awesome. Kobe is still the most polarizing figure in all of sports, so whenever he does something spectacular, both the Kobe haters and Kobe fan boys come out on Twitter and duke it out. As well, the battle between stat geeks and their naysayers erupted over the issue of whether Kobe is really that clutch or not (stat-heads say "no", others say "you must be blind"). And of course, Kobe Bryant became a trending topic on Twitter right after the shot.
Here are a few Twitter suggestions to get you started:
Most Valuable Tweeter No. 1: FanHouse's Matt Moore (@HPBasketball). He's an NBA league pass junkie and a joy to follow on Twitter. Follow him and you'll have a good feel for what's going on in the NBA that night.
Most Valuable Tweeter No. 2: Holly MacKenzie (@StackMack). Holly is another league pass junkie that will give you a great feel for what's going on throughout the night. She also covers the Raptors for TheScore.com and NBA.com.
Hidden Twitter Jewel: Clarence Gaines (@CGRock24). He's a former Chicago Bulls scout that gives great perspective on the game and the players involved. He's scouted many of today's greats and has even posted some of his scouting reports on guys like Grant Hill, Kevin Garnett and Steve Nash from their pre-NBA days. He has less than 400 followers, but gives much better analysis on the game than a guy like Sports Guy Bill Simmons (who has 1 million-plus followers).
Oh, and you can follow me on Twitter at @jonesonthenba and NBA Fanhouse at @nbafanhouse.