Over the past year, Twitter has shown us its incredible power when it comes to talking about and sharing “breaking news” and current events (not just in sports). For example, last year’s Iranian presidential elections completely dominated Twitter for a number of weeks, and became the medium for finding out what was happening in the Middle East. Other major news events, like the Hudson River plane crash and Michael Jackson’s death, have proven the same.
July 1 marked the start of one of the biggest summers in the history of the National Basketball Association. A number of the league’s premier players, including LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade, became free agents. 2010 NBA free agency has been quite an experience, and Twitter has truly given fans an insight into free agency unlike we’ve ever had before. Like the events mentioned previously, Twitter has completely altered who controls the messaging and the way we gather information.
LeBron Joins Twitter & Announces “The Decision”
I’ve called LeBron out a couple times on SportsNetworker for not having a Twitter presence. On July 6th, he finally joined. You’re welcome. Within a couple of hours, without having tweeted, he reached 100,000 followers and his account was verified. Since that time, he has tweeted three times, and now has a total of 276,000 followers (9:50PM EST on Wednesday). While the long term results of LBJ joining Twitter have yet to be seen, he has already caused quite the commotion by simply signing up. Should he use Twitter properly (e.g. update regularly, interact with fans, remain authentic), LeBron has a chance to have a major impact on the world of social media & sports.
Apart from joining Twitter, LeBron announced a 60-minute ESPN special called The Decision, where he will officially announce the team he will sign with this season. While some have suggested he announce his decision in a more subtle manner, LeBron has decided that an ESPN takeover is the way to go. He’s gotten sponsors involved, and will give all proceeds to the Boys & Girls Club of America. In the end, can’t get mad at the guy for giving back. Can’t wait for his decision, and can’t wait to see the ratings!
Note: I could write an entire article about LeBron joining Twitter, and I very well might, but won’t ramble on here. Not now. Maybe in a few weeks, once he’s made his decision, and engaged more on the platform.
Chris Bosh & Dwayne Wade Give an Inside Look
On June 30, ten minutes before free agency started, Chris Bosh tweeted, “The time is finally here. Thank you for all the support. I’m nervous, but I’m excited and READY! LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!!!!!!” A day later, Dwayne Wade tweeted, “You only get one july 1st. Had a blast but glad the first day has came and went. Gotta get some rest 2morrows another big day.”
And as the free agency period went on over the next several days, Wade and Bosh continued to update fans about what they were thinking and feeling during one of the biggest moments of their respective careers. Receiving updates from two of the prime focuses of this year’s free agency period was an unbelievable experience. To get such direct and honest insights into the process was a sports fan’s dream.
Note: Also cool to see Wade & Bosh direct people to ESPN via Twitter when they announced their intentions to play together in Miami, and to see Wade film a personal video for Heat fans:
Rumors & Speculation
From constant updates from NBA insiders (e.g. “Dwyane Wade told two associates in past 24 hours that his focus is on recruiting a big man (Bosh, Amar’e, Boozer) to Miami now, not LeBron,” from Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski) to speculation from NBA players (e.g. “Breaking News!!! My sources tell me Lebron will announce that he will be goin to the NY KNICKS tomorrow on ESPN.. This is serious.. WOW!!!!,” from the Phoenix Suns’ Jared Dudley), the free agency period has been a whirlwind of speculation, rumors, and debate. Twitter has given a voice to those who wished to participate, and it has been a lot of fun to watch and be involved.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Sports fans are insanely lucky to be living in this day & age, where athletes, teams, and leagues utilize technology to enhance the fan experience. Don’t take it for granted!
What are your thoughts on NBA free agency? Have you been following along on Twitter? If so, what has been your favorite moment so far? And hey, what the heck, where do you think LBJ will go when he makes his announcement tonight?