Gabe Botero| September 11th, 2019
Twitter isn’t safe for anyone. Especially if you have an opinion (spoiler alert: everyone does). The NBA and its fans have taken a chunk of Twitter and shaped it to fit what the people want, and the people want drama! Twitter has been around for years but even for new users, it wouldn’t take long to figure out that just as “armchair quarterbacks” poke holes in the theories that real professional athletes give about their performance and the world around them, those same people will serve you up the same service.
Recently, there has been some extra drama surrounding the league that caused me to stop and think about what Twitter has become for fans of basketball. Earlier this month, Josh Hart and Lonzo Ball, former Lakers and current Pelicans via a trade, opened up about how they found out they would not be wearing Lakers’ purple and gold. The owner or coach did not call them; they found out by scrolling on their timeline on Twitter. But this isn’t new! Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons in 2018, Cameron Payne to the Chicago Bulls in 2017, even Shaq to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2009 all found out they were traded over a tweet. If you take anything from that last statement let it be that no one is safe from a trade or a tweet for that matter.
Every player that finds out they have been traded from social media all have the same complaint; they wish someone from their team would have told them. Part of me feels bad for them, part of me understand that the NBA is a business. But even a business would let you know that you are now working for a different company in a different state. At least I would hope so.
Players have been victimized by Woj bombs for years. Each and every trade deadline comes with an added layer of anticipation that Adrian Wojnarowski, (in)famous for his “Woj bombs” on twitter, will be giving us as fans the quickest release of trade news. More and more people have taken on this challenge of competing with Wojnarowksi, the most relevant and successful being Shams Charania but others tried to be the best this past year.
Focusing on the destination of 2019 free agent Kawhi Leonard, many people in the sports world said they had “inside information” and that “Kawhi is 100% going to Team ‘X’”. This resulted in Twitter users tweeting out the location of airports he was flying into and hotels that he was staying at. For me, this might have been a step too far, even for Twitter. Sending out the location of one of the best players in the league right now could have resulted in a much darker situation worst-case scenario. NBA players are under a spotlight and everything they do is talked about but where do we draw the line? At what point do they cease to have privacy? Better yet, at what point do we let them have their privacy? I can’t speak for the players, but I know that I wouldn’t like my every move to be criticized.
Tweets are great but the comments section is where the drama really happens. NBA players have occasionally stood up to the critics in the comments on Twitter, but it never ends well. Kevin Durant has tried for years and most recently after his Wall Street Journal exclusive, he took to some of the comments and reactions to the article. As he went back and forth with some of the same users on Twitter, the conversation devolved into something akin to middle school spats. This isn’t his first time defending himself. Whether it’s on Twitter or Instagram, Kevin Durant rears his head occasionally to fight back at his critics.
But when all is said and done, what’s the point? Does he need to defend his actions? Furthermore, does he need to defend his actions to someone with less than 100 followers on Twitter? He seems to think so and it’s his right to do what he wants. Many people think bad of him for addressing his choices in the comment section, but many people think its just part of the job and it comes with the territory. Either way, Durant is one of the most polarizing players in the NBA right now so there is bound to be some blowback for what he does.
Twitter is king when it comes to NBA media. The hottest takes, the most current news, the embarrassing posts, and the harshest criticisms all find their way onto Twitter, in a roundabout way, to appease the fans. Twitter revolutionized the way players and fans react to the NBA with so much going on in the league. I can’t imagine what Twitter will be like when this next season actually starts.
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