NBA players are just like the rest of us–they’re addicted to social media. Sure, they may have fifty thousand more followers than you, but at their core, they’re just average Joes when it comes to tweeting, Instagramming and asking high schoolers if #YouTryinToGetThePipe. There are always NBA gems in the timeline known as the Internet worth following, and some kindly folks have recently performed the task of figuring out who those players are.
To get an idea of just how much the social media equity teams in the NBA hold, Emory Sports Marketing Analytics at Emory University recently released a report measuring each teams’ fan support based on the amount of Twitter followers and Facebook likes they have garnered. “We then created a statistical model that predicts these measures of social media engagement as a function of market size, tweeting activity and team performance for this past season and for the season before that,” they wrote in a blog on the university’s website. Getting past the marketing jargon, the end result is a ranking of the 30 teams’ social media footprints.
The LA Lakers “crushed” the other teams, netting number one. As for the Heat, who took second, the researchers apparently had a tough time drawing a line between the social media efforts of the team as a whole versus those of LeBron, the only NBA player whose online account consistently outperforms Miley Cyrus’ much publicized cries for help. In an interesting twist, the Charlotte Bobcats (after being adjusted for team performance and market size) took fourth, meaning that the most unwatchable team in the NBA has some of the most dedicated fans out there.
With Emory’s efforts in mind, we decided to give it a shot ourselves. Using only the most highly scientific methods, we present you with five of the best Twitter alter egos in the NBA.
J.R. Smith aka @TheRealJRSmith
Current followers: 442,570
He might not have the most followers in the NBA, but everybody loves a ticking time bomb, and J.R. Smith is our case in point. The Knicks player has tweeted photos of women’s asses (netting him a $25,000 fine from the NBA in the case of model Tahiry Jose’s fine behind), apparently propositioned a high schooler and closed his Twitter account in 2009 after claims circulated that he was imitating the writing style of the notorious Bloods gang. And that’s just on Twitter. Off the ’net, he has been a whirlwind of car accidents, arrests and, most recently, a suspension for allegedly violating the NBA’s drug policies. If Dennis Rodman had a Twitter account back in the 90s when he was busy being a badass, this is what it would have looked like.
Blake Griffin aka @BlakeGriffin32
Current followers: 1,847,476
If you follow NBA players online, chances are it is to see what they look like when they’re off the court, sans game face. But if you have ever wondered what NBA players look like when they’re asleep, this is your guy. One of the most patently silly NBA players on the Internet, the Clipper’s Blake Griffin is as quirky an entity as they come, whether he’s tweeting photos of his sleeping teammates, gabbing about punching kids in the face for their Vine videos and offering commentary on non-hipsters that still use cassette tape players. He also has a penchant for consistently engaging with his followers with Q&As and replies, so who knows–maybe you won’t have to wait until your next birthday for an NBA player to quote-tweet you with a friendly “Hey, broseph.”
Andre Drummond aka @DRE_DRUMMOND_
Current followers: 339,987
Nobody in the NBA has embraced the six-second video medium that Vine offers more completely than Andre Drummond. Sharing the clips through his Twitter account at an unprecedented rate, the Pistons big man has let his personality shine through with some hilarious pieces, as well as some downright weird ones. He has been spotted donning a penguin costume and spearheading what seems to be a one-man “Coaches be like” meme. Most impressively, he has not yet succumbed to the #MaraschinoStep meme plaguing the web, but the best part about this account is its unpredictability. We’ll see.
Nick Collison aka @nickcollison4
Current followers: 122,566
For those among you with high-minded pretenses, Nick Collison’s Twitter account is a great read with grammatically-correct tweets (a rarity) matched with some great wit (an even greater rarity). They say writing a lot isn’t that hard–it’s writing a little that gets you–and OKC’s power forward has mastered the art of 140 characters. But it’s not the first time he’s given our typically-vain editorial team a run for its money. He took on a guest blog for GQ during the 2011 playoffs, showcasing some of his talent for the written word. What makes this account great is that he doesn’t tweet every hour, on the hour. We like to think he lets his tweets marinate for a few days at a time, so that when he lets them loose, they’re worth it.
Metta World Peace aka @MettaWorldPeace
Current followers: 744,231
Already one of the most interesting guys in the game, Metta World Peace’s Twitter timeline reads like an exercise in insanity. Where quirk-factor is a key indicator of follow-worthiness, the Lakers’ power forward has the game beat. You can feel the raw emotion in his tweets about the U.S. Open. You can feel his confusion every time he tweets an incomplete sentence. And you can feel smarter when he gives you an impromptu grammar lesson. Then there are his tweets about turning into the Geico gecko, ideas for a new name (“Whole Foods Guacamole Dip” has a nice ring to it) and amnestied toothbrushes. Pure gold.
Honourable mention: Shaquille O’Neil aka @SHAQ
Current followers: 7,590,345
Shaq may be retired, and he may not have LeBron’s impressive 9 million plus followers, but he knows how to speak to our souls. Maybe it’s because his timeline reads like a motivational poster. Have a bad day? Enjoy some Shaq magic. Do you believe in love? Shaq does. Sort of. Follow Shaq and all will be well, my son.