SBD/Issue 132/Sports Media

NBA Players Using Twitter Just Keeping Up With Current Fads

Shaq Among Many Star NBA Athletes
Who Use Twitter
Bucks F Charlie Villanueva "got some heat and plenty of attention" for posting an update on his Twitter page during halftime of a game earlier this month, but it was "merely the latest instance of basketball players and other athletes riding the same techno tide as the rest of us," according to Steve Aschburner of SI.com. NBA players are "young, bright, well-paid and hyper-attuned to trends and culture and they have gobs of free time on their hands, all of which makes them natural candidates to jump on board new technologies." However, coaches are "traditionally older, ... more set in their ways and definitely more single-minded, which puts them on the other end of breakthroughs and slick toys." The NBA "loves its reputation as a cutting-edge league," but some coaches "remain well behind the curve." Thunder interim coach Scott Brooks: "Twitting? What is it? So you 'tweet' on Twitter? I don't anticipate myself ever doing that." T'Wolves coach Kevin McHale said, "I heard someone say Charlie Villanueva was tweeting and I thought it meant he went in to take a leak at halftime." Aschburner noted many star players, including Suns C Shaquille O'Neal and G Steve Nash, Lakers G Kobe Bryant and Raptors F Chris Bosh all have active Twitter accounts, as does Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban. While Twitter still is unknown to some, it "soon will be easier to name those who don't than those who do" (SI.com, 3/26). O'Neal during last Saturday's Suns-Wizards game was planning to send a halftime tweet, "only to be told that Suns coach Alvin Gentry was fine with the idea." O'Neal: "I was going to do it and not get in trouble, then brag about not getting in trouble" (SI, 3/30 issue).

ALL THE WORLD'S A TWEET: In N.Y., Noam Cohen reports in a front-page piece Twitter has become an "important marketing tool for celebrities, politicians and businesses, promising a level of intimacy never before approached online." In many cases, celebrities who tweet have "turned to outside writers -- ghost Twitterers, if you will -- who keep fans updated on the latest twists and turns, often in the star's own voice." But O'Neal said, "If I am going to speak, it will come from me. It's 140 characters. It's so few characters. If you need a ghostwriter for that, I feel sorry for you." O'Neal added that the technology "allows him to bypass the media to speak directly to the fans" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/27).

COMPUTER CLASS: VENTUREBEAT.com's Eric Eldon reported AT&T, Twitter and ad network Federated Media have teamed to launch MarchTweetness, a site that allows viewers of the NCAA men's basketball tournament to "exchange tweets with other people watching the same tournament game." Once on the Twitter site, a user can click on an ongoing game and "see a running stream of tweets from other users about each team" (VENTUREBEAT.com, 3/26).

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