It all started on October 29th during a game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Milwaukee Bucks. Minnesota Center Kosta Koufos missed an open jumper. Several players, including the Wolves’ Kevin Love and Wes Johnson, went for the rebound. Love was hacked, sending him to the free throw line. As Love prepared to take his foul shots, Johnson walked towards him, extending his arm for a high five. Love and Johnson failed to connect, whiffing several times, before Love, determined to make contact, followed Johnson to his spot along the hashes and got the job done. Take a look for yourself:
While the video is funny, what’s really interesting is the way the content has been spread and highlighted. Before the days of ESPN, the clip would never have been seen by a national audience. It probably wouldn’t even have been highlighted in the postgame show on the local broadcast. But in today’s world, things are different. In just over two weeks, the video, posted by Wolves fan Kahnmatic, has over 1.1 million views and has become somewhat of a viral sensation, known on the Internet as “the most awkward NBA handshake ever. And on Monday, the Minnesota Timberwolves embraced the moment, releasing a video of their own, called “Investigative Report: The Awkward Handshake.”
A Shift in Control
A couple of years ago, the Investigative Report would have been a SportsCenter piece. ESPN would have taken the clip, come up with the concept, sent a team to Minnesota, and filmed the spoof. The video would make its appearance on SportsCenter, we would’ve all smiled and maybe talked about it at the office the next day, and that would have been that. Now, the team can create the content and distribute it themselves through the web, where there is a better chance of virality.
So, it’s a breath of fresh air to see the Timberwolves take control of their content. Granted, the Youtube video that built the initial buzz was not published by the Wolves’ official account (big miss), but the fact is that the organization embraced the hype that was being generated and decided to take advantage. Well done, Timberwolves.
This concept is what social media is really all about: a shift in control. Players and teams can now go to Twitter and Facebook and Ustream and Youtube to tell the stories they want to tell about themselves. You (whoever you may be) are in control.
Note: The one mistake the Wolves made is that they did not post their video to Youtube (which makes the video embeddable & more easily sharable) until after it had already been made public on their site and attracted its biggest buzz. Had they posted to Youtube right away, and made it the only manner in which people could watch, the video probably would have been shared more and gone more viral.
What do you think about the way the Minnesota Timberwolves handled this situation? What do you think this shows about the shift in control from mass media to social media? Let’s discuss below!