Twitter’s Role in NBA Free Agency

When the Los Angeles Lakers were crowned the NBA champions of the 2008-2009 basketball season, it only means all the other 29 teams of the popular basketball league are primed to make roster changes in the offseason. Contracts expire in June 30 and this means free agency is once again active. This season is different however. Virtual communities are more involved thanks to the social media network Twitter.

Twitter is not as elaborate as commercial and free virtual worlds with 3D environments. Actually, it is a very simple utility application. It connects lots of Twitter users together under an up-to-the-minute stream of updates from each other. But it is still a community nevertheless because there are trends for primary conversations and the likes.

So how does it work in previous years? Managements, owners and managers usually meet each other on closed doors to arrange contract negotiations and even workings of trades. Usually, no news announcements are made until the deals are final. The basketball community back then consisted of people in the same geographical location speculating about possible trades and personnel twists.

Not anymore.

Twitter and the World Wide Web in general enabled communities to be updated as it happens. Basketball sports outlets are using Twitter to outwork their opponents for the latest developments. In a trend in recent days, sports stories are using the Twitter accounts of NBA superstars for quotes. This provides an alternative from the quotes in press conferences. For example, when the Lakers won, news outlets used Shaquille O’Neal’s tweet (a Twitter update) in his account The_Real_ShaQ when he congratulated the team.

Other NBA players are using this service to give hints about their possible destination and other personnel moves. Milwaukee Bucks’ Charlie Villanueva (one of the pioneers of Twitter in the NBA when he was caught Tweeting during the halftime of an NBA game) reports that his time may be done in Milwaukee may be done because his contract was not extended. On the other hand, Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love reported that Kevin McHale was no longer their coach.

Updates such as these serve as fuel to discussions of people in the virtual communities of Twitter. These developments unify this people under the same topic even if they are not physically present to discuss with each other.

Moreover, NBA teams even involve the online fan base in through Twitter. Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey wanted to rally the Rockets fans to show their support for potential free agent signee center Marcin Gortat of the Orlando Magic. Here is a sample tweet:

“Meeting in a few w/ Gortat. Send a note to him NOW at rocketsfanslovegortat. He will receive. Show him how much we want him in Red (color of the Rockets uniform)!”

Another respected mind in the NBA, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, tweeted his presence in New York at the strike of the July 1 clock in order to court the free agent Hall-of-Famer point guard Jason Kidd to return to his team with a new contract. Cuban tweeted that he is already in New York for an important free agent meeting. Even with this transparency, Cuban discussed that there will be no updates yet until conversations are finish.

So we see another important usage of Twitter to involve a virtual community under the same topic. We’ve seen it with the death of Michael Jackson and here in our 3D animation studio Mediafreaks, we think this will be a forward trend with commercial and free virtual worlds from here on out. Interactivity is really the trend in the World Wide Web nowadays.

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