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News » Thunder is all a Twitter


Thunder is all a Twitter


Thunder is all a TwitterWith just 67 characters, Jeff Green connected with his fans like never before on Sept. 25.

"tryna figure this twitter stuff out...can someone pleeaase help me?" Green wrote on that Friday at 3:53 p.m.

Within seconds, the star forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder discovered his fans were more than willing to answer the call.

Green had just signed up for Twitter, the social networking Web site that has swept the NBA and given fans more access than ever into the lives of some of their favorite professional athletes.

Powered by brief, 140-character shorthand messages, or "tweets," Twitter has quickly gained popularity among players and changed the way the league communicates. Players are now their own messengers, with a round-the-clock means of telling the world which team they intend to sign with or what ailment will keep them out of the big game.

"This technology has really taken over the world," Green said. "Now it's easy for somebody that you never would have met to hit you up. It's just like them having your phone number but everybody can see it."

In March, Nielsen.com ranked Twitter the Web's fastest-growing, member-community site. The official Twitter account of the NBA is one of the site's most popular brands with more than 1.5 million "followers."

The NFL's account, with 1.23 million followers, is the next closest professional sports league in popularity and the only other major professional sports league to top one million followers. Major League Baseball's official account has only 606,000.

Half the Thunder's roster has active Twitter accounts. Kevin Durant owns bragging rights with more than 75,000 followers. The team's mascot, Rumble the Bison, even has an account. The furry creature doesn't talk but does of course tweet.

Some players use it as a free marketing tool. Others use it to stay connected. For many, it's just quick, clean fun.

By following Green's updates, fans can learn little details they can only get from him. For example, did you know Green enjoys relaxing pedicures? Or that the 23-year-old is perfectly content with a night at home watching the Disney classic "Aladdin?"

"That was the first thing that caught me by surprise," Green said of his attraction to the site, "how many people were so interested in what Jeff Green wants to do with his day."

Green now averages nearly 18 tweets per day. Not bad for a guy who needed nudging from teammates Durant and Russell Westbrook all summer before he finally signed up for the free site.

But players have used Twitter to offer more than mundane details about their days. Durant is like many players who use their accounts to interact with fans by answering questions or replying to comments. Durant also has offered tickets to fans in visiting cities if they can correctly answer trivia questions.

Cleveland's star center Shaquille O'Neal, who has more than 2.4 million followers, has played Twitter tag with fans and given away tickets to anyone who finds him and declares he's, "it." Toronto rookie forward DeMar DeRozan on Friday pledged to give away tickets to fans in every city the Raptors play in if he reaches 20,000 followers by opening night.

"When I was growing up you didn't get to do that," Durant said. "I try to put myself in other people's shoes. So if they have questions I try my best to answer them. But if I had an opportunity to talk to an NBA player, that would have been one of the highlights of my life."

But the Web site also has its pitfalls.

In March, Detroit forward Charlie Villanueva, then with Milwaukee, became one of the first players to make the NBA view Twitter in a different light. Villanueva tweeted from the locker room during halftime of a game between his Bucks and the Boston Celtics. In June, Minnesota forward Kevin Love broke new ground by unintentionally breaking news on his account that Wolves coach Kevin McHale would not be returning for the 2009-10 season.

More serious incidents occurred with Miami forward Michael Beasley and Denver guard J.R. Smith this summer. Beasley checked into rehab just days after a picture posted to his Twitter account showed a questionable-looking bag resting on a table in the background. Beasley, who has rejoined the Heat, preceded his trip to rehab with a series of eyebrow-raising tweets. One read, "Feelin like it's not worth livin!!!! I'm done."

Smith, who once played in Oklahoma City as a member of the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, created controversy when some of his messages were written with what appeared to be gang-related spellings.

Both Smith and Beasley's accounts have been deleted.

The NBA last month implemented league-wide policy on such social media sites. Players are now prohibited from using cell phones, PDAs and other electronic communicating devices "during games," or 45 minutes before tip-off through the fulfillment of media obligations after the game. The rule includes halftime.

Each franchise is permitted to implement additional regulations. The Thunder is scheduled to have its annual media training session this week. A team spokesman said social networking guidance will be a part of the session.

"I have no issues with it," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks, who isn't a member of the site and mandates only that his players don't tweet from practice.

"I think it's a way for guys to communicate with one another and communicate with the fans. I think it's important for our guys to stay connected. As long as they don't give away any of what we do I have no problem with it."

As for Green, he's hooked. Ironically, he's found himself in the same place Durant and Westbrook were in only a few months ago. Only it's former Georgetown teammate John Wallace who Green is encouraging to sign up.

"He likes to look at mine and just make fun of me," Green said.

Chances are, Wallace will come around.

How to use twitter

→Step 1: Log onto twitter.com and click the "Sign up now" button.

→Step 2: Enter your full name, your desired screen name and password and e-mail address.

→Step 3: Enter your e-mail password to find contacts from your e-mail account who are already on Twitter. (You can also skip this step).

→Step 4: Click on suggested celebrities you would like to "follow." (You can also skip this step).

→Step 5: Tweet your heart out. (From the home page, you can change settings to get updates from your friends on your phone, change your background and profile picture and find more friends.)


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 21, 2009

 

 
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