You Can’t be an NBA Fan in 2019 Without Twitter

By: Amador Nazarov

Woj. Shams. To most, those two words do not hold much meaning, but to NBA fans they are two names that are important and vital parts of a large and growing community called “NBA Twitter.” Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania are arguably two of the most popular NBA Reporters and work for ESPN and The Athletic, respectively. Wojnarowski is famous around the league for sending out very huge pieces of NBA news and information on Twitter before you hear or see it anywhere else. Wojnarowski has 2.7 Million followers on Twitter and it seems that just about every NBA fan who has an account on the platform follows him. Even his drops of ground breaking NBA news on Twitter are known as “#WojBombs”. The fact that a popular hashtag has evolved just from people’s fascination of NBA Tweets shows how much of today’s basketball culture has grown on Twitter this decade. Shams Charania, or just plain old Shams as most fans would call him, currently has 405.6k followers on Twitter and is widely known for his NBA News Tweets as well.

7 of 2018’s Top 10 Tweeted about athletes were NBA players.

Even though only two on the list of ten were NFL players (Tom Brady and Colin Kaepernick), the NFL is the #1 most watched major sports league on TV and brings in the most revenue by far. However, the NBA is growing in popularity at a rapid pace and much of this has to do with the league’s openness and willingness to work with the players and their social medias. Again, as of October 2018, NBA teams ranked in top 8/10 on Facebook, 8/10 on Instagram & 5/10 on Twitter for the most followed sports teams in the US. People love the drama of the NBA and there are not too many better ways to look at it than through social media. In 2017, MVPindex reported that the NBA’s total social footprint for that year was worth nearly $5.1 Billion, with over $444 million in value generated for brands. This goes to show how much financial power the league now brings to the industry just from social media and the partnerships that come with it. Social media and the internet is an integral part to sports now, betting is done online, getting your tips and tricks on betting is done online from the help of sites like this one that shows you how to bet on NBA games. If you’re looking to get competitive with your love of basketball, you could take a place on fantasy basketball rankings with your friends or with thousands across the country and potentially win cash prizes.

NBA Twitter Influencer Rob Perez said it best: “More people might watch the NFL on TV, but when it comes to consuming a sport through the Internet, I don’t think anything’s close to the NBA.” Fans are attracted to inside looks of famous athletes’ lives, as they are true celebrities in today’s world. It can almost be seen as a reality TV show. There have been instances where a player decides to sign with a different team in the offseason or there is a blockbuster trade, and NBA Twitter goes crazy in response to these kind of events. For example, when LeBron James signed to the Los Angeles Lakers last summer, Adrian Wojnarowski’s Tweet announcing the deal drove in an enormous 127K RT’s and 196K Favorites. One can only imagine the potential of how much conversation Twitter and Instagram would create if there were to be an event of a greater magnitude, such as Stephen Curry signing to a different team or hitting the game winning shot to win the NBA Finals. Communities of millions basketball fans all come together on “NBA Twitter” to talk about the league, make player impersonation videos, create memes, and even produce Game of Thrones Spinoff Shows. It is quite incredible to see how much of today’s basketball culture and lifestyle has evolved on social media and created such a different way to create camaraderie and improve an overall league image.

Twitter: @amadornazarov

Instagram: @slamador_

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amadornazarov/

This Article Has 16 Comments
  1. Kirbi Campbell says:

    Love this post, I can definitely agree with how influential the current culture of the NBA is. It has become more than just a basketball league but, again, more of a culture that takes inspiration from other outside influences such as music, lifestyle, brands, and celebrity and uses it in their social platforms. I personally follow a lot of sporting accounts like NFL or NBA related accounts, and in my experience I do always tend to see more NBA related material on my feed. It is an interesting yet entertaining trend that the NBA has seemed to master.

    • Colton Schang says:

      Additionally, NBA players have used Twitter as a platform to talk about issues outside of the play on the court. Because Twitter allows for not only the fans to participate, but also the players (like Tom mentioned), it has amplified their voices. Players like Lebron James are able to respond to media critics and create entire movements (#morethananathlete) with the active role they play on Twitter. These conversations around NBA Twitter are more than just basketball, they are culturally significant for social justice, inspiration, and social influence.

  2. Ian Burleigh says:

    You are absolutely right in how influential Woj and Shams have become in basketball culture due to social media. Similar to Adam Schefter with the NFL, these are people who have even parlayed their social media influence to become regular talking heads on television networks. In comparison to other leagues, I think the NBA benefits from the length of season, quantity of games, minimal number of players, and the ability to recognize players. The NBA is a moderately long season and has games going every night. This allows for the league to generate content – especially highlight quality content that doesn’t rely on the context of the game – all the time and feed the scrolling masses. Additionally, there are relatively few players in the NBA compared to other sports, and it is much easier to recognize their faces on TV. This translates to larger social media followings and opportunities for endorsement deals. I also think that basketball is easier to digest in layman’s terms because it doesn’t seem as complex strategically as other sports. This allows for more people to feel that they can be an additive part of the conversation online.

  3. Emily Reinwald says:

    I’m glad you highlighted Woj and Shams in your post. While the players have embraced Twitter and are amongst the most active and influential athletes on the platform, #NBATwitter extends far beyond the players and official team accounts. The examples of Woj and Shams can also be case studies for up and coming sports journalists. You can’t just write well, you need to be able to start and cultivate conversations on social media in real time.

  4. Tom Bridger says:

    As a huge NBA fan I naturally gravitated towards this post. Another aspect of your point is the sheer power and influence of “NBA Twitter”. NBA Twitter is seen as the pinnacle of what Twitter can be for a brand/organization. There is a huge amount of collaboration among fans, it is overwhelmingly positive in comparison with usual Twitter conversations, and the players themselves are active participants. Because NBA players are active within NBA Twitter, a certain amount of ownership and culpability has been added to Twitter participants. If you go off on a tirade about how bad a player is playing, don’t be surprised to see him call you out and fill your feed with diehard fans agreeing with their favorite player. It creates a culture of accountability that is seldom seen on the platform. If the NFL could pay millions to replicate the community of NBA Twitter, they would do so in a second. It is simply so unique, creative, and fan driven, that it is nearly impossible to replicate inauthentically.

  5. Isabelle Shattuck says:

    Hi Amador,

    I like that you showcased how important twitter has become in the NBA world; and included influential NBA reporters who are both important assets to the conversation. The sport itself has created a unique social media platform for conversation regrading, news with the sport, trades, live tweeting during games, and events. Even if people aren’t familiar with the sport it is almost known that information regarding the NBA or any sports league in general can be found on Twitter. Twitter can serve as a great platform for fans to interact and have conversation with one another about as well .

  6. Carolyn Riesinger says:

    Twitter has become incredibly important for the NBA and basketball culture in general. Even as someone who does not regularly watch basketball, my Twitter feed is constently saturated with what’s happening in the basketball world. This is a great topic to use to showcase how powerful Twitter conversations can be, and how as communication professionals we need to keep up with trends, even if they don’t interest us personally.

  7. Julianne Spencer says:

    Thanks for this Amador! This article hits home for me in that I just learned from all my friends who are NBA fans that all of their information they learn is from Twitter only. Further, Twitter allows them to get the information FIRST before many of the news organizations get it. This is why people like Wojnarowski are pivotal because he’s a well-informed member of the media who people trust. I think the NBA’s user of twitter should be a tool that other leagues use too. It’s a way to connect with fans, build a community, and also connect fans with pivotal influencers in that particular sport. I also think that Twitter will continue to influence how we watch sports, but more importantly how we consumers news about sports. I now follower both these people on twitter so thanks for the info!

  8. Jake Willard says:

    Sports social media is such a fun and interesting beast, especially in the NBA. The freedom and encouragement for athletes to speak their minds is something that has proven to be extremely valuable for both the league and its athletes. That value, of course, is both in social influence and sometimes even dollar value. With the rapid success for the NBA in the social world, it’s hard not to imagine how other sports might follow suit. As a big baseball fan myself, it has been fun to see the evolution of the MLB’s presence on social, from self-referential memes to some interesting in-depth dives into players or teams. I hope they can find some success with it like the NBA. But it’ll be hard to catch up to Woj’s talents.

  9. Kierstyn Yardley says:

    As a huge sports fan, I have noticed how much of an impact Twitter has on the NBA. Twitter creates a space for the NBA unlike any other social media platform. The NBA is not the most watched sport on TV, but I agree that Twitter is a different world for the league. The players have the ability to joke with each other and have fans interact with them. Even if people don’t watch any NBA games, they will see all the results and reactions on Twitter. I think it’s so interesting to see how popular the NBA is on Twitter considered it’s not the much watched sport on TV. Twitter will continue to be one of the most prominent social media platforms!

  10. Ari Rassouli says:

    Great post and well written! I think that it is so interesting that these reporters are able to use their knowledge to gain a bigger following with the information that they put out there. NBA drama is quite the drama, I agree. BUT STEPH CURRY WILL NEVER LEAVE THE WARRIORS.

  11. Yichi Zhang says:

    I personally really like this post. As a huge NBA fan, I use Hupu (a Chinese online app of NBA news and trade sources gathered from Twitter and other social media) for NBA news everyday. I really enjoy the moment when I am seeing the topic says “source from woj”, that means something big is happening. Social media is influencing the way we care about sports than we used to, and all these social media create more possibilities to let fans know more about the league, not only games. We love to see what players shared their daily lives online, and we love to explore more what is happening in the league, this makes us feel like we are part of it. Although I am not using Twitter too often, I heard they create emojis for each NBA 2019 All Star players, this is a really good way to promote NBA and players.

  12. […] close, where the stars pull up a seat next to you”. The phenomena that is NBA Twitter was mentioned in an earlier blog post, but I want to dive into how teams are leveraging the success of NBA Twitter to elevate their own […]

  13. Austin Banks says:

    I really enjoyed this post as I totally agree that NBA Twitter has exploded over the past couple years. As a big NBA fan it’s always exciting to see a WOJ bomb during free agency because you know something big has happened, for instance with Lebron signing with the Lakers. I think there was over 1.5 million tweets occurring within the hour after he signed. While it might not be the most watched sport it is definitely the most entertaining and I think with the use of NBA Twitter the community will continue to grow and reach more people.

  14. Oleene Perera says:

    I completely agree that the “it factor” in making off-court news this popular is on the league’s willingness to listen to fans, especially young fans and where they interact. Reality shows & the league allowing athletes to voice their opinions more openly than say, the NFL, has also had an immense impact on fan interest & engagement/investment in the athletes. Alongside Twitter, NBA buzz has created a huge community on Instagram as well, even for AAU & NCAA basketball athletes as well.

  15. Meghan Schroeder says:

    Hi Amador,
    I think you made a great point that Twitter is huge in the NBA world. In my opinion, Twitter is the best social platform to access instant game and score updates. If I have not seen the end of a game, I will not go online. The official team pages along with fans posts clog my feed every day. It does not matter what time of day because there is always pregame, during the game, post game, and highlights to chat about. The conversation never dies.

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