The Rules Have Changed: NBA
Growing up, if I wanted to catch an interview featuring my favorite NBA player, David Robinson, I had to stay up late until the game was over and hope TNT didn't cut to commercial just as the camera turned to D. Rob. When he, or any other of my beloved Spurs did get airtime, I hung on their every word because I knew the Texas team's coverage in Southern California was rare.
Fast forward a few years and my family's dial-up Internet granted me access to player bios, team news and game highlights that I could enjoy on my own schedule. As a 12-year-old, it was more than I ever could have imaged.
But two decades after my NBA love affair began, the world of social media has dramatically impacted the way fans interact with their favorite team, players and the league as a whole. The NBA boasts more than 100 million combined followers and fans on Twitter and Facebook and more than 667 million views on its YouTube channel. It is no coincidence that the league wrapped up a record-setting season this June – generating its highest TV ratings and web traffic in its history.
Madison Square Garden stood virtually empty on Friday night as the Knicks prepared to host their first playoff game in seven years. Hours before tipoff -- long before the roar of the crowd (briefly) became so loud it was almost impossible to hear anything -- the basketball's bounce echoed as Celtics guard Ray Allen took the floor. Few people used to be able to witness such a moment, occurring before cameras really start rolling, before fans trickle in. Now, the moment is on full display to the NBA's nearly 2.5 million Twitter followers -- and the thousands more to whom the post is retweeted.
To an outsider, it was just another TwitPic, but to a Knicks fan, it was the next best thing to actually being there.
Although I serve as social media manager for several brands and understand how things work "behind the scenes," I still get giddy when the @Spurs send me a reply or a player retweets what I've written. Thanks to social media done right, I'm no longer limited by cable networks, a slow Internet connection or mileage. Instead, I'm right there, all the time.