NBA Does Twitter

14 11 2011

In response to my title, not well. On the night preceding the day on which the NBA Players Association is expected to vote on accepting the NBA’s latest CBA proposal, the league decided to leverage its 3 million-plus Twitter followers. A smart move on the surface but the League managed to screw it up.

I get what the NBA was thinking. They’ve done an excellent job of framing their proposals and stances by having Commish David Stern speak on radio shows and have him and Adam Silver jointly lead their press conferences. To use Twitter to clear up confusion on the NBA’s stance the night before the players are supposed to accept or reject the latest proposal is savvy. The League claimed Stern and Silver were actually answering questions, although my skeptical nature leads me to believe it was their PR staff.

They answered 29 questions in roughly 75 minutes. That’s a decent pace. The problem was they got off to a mind-numbingly slow start by answering, I believe, three questions in 15 minutes. While it didn’t seem the case at the time, @NBA’s timeline does show it re-tweeting each person’s question, then answering with a ‘.’ before that questioner’s handle, so that anyone following @NBA could see the answer.

One issue I had with the NBA’s selection of whom they would answer is that it was comprised of fans, sportswriters and NBA players. Two of Spencer Hawes’ irritable tweets were answered; Dwyane Wade got another. Then sports media folks Bill Simmons, Darren Rovell, Dave McMenamin, Michael Lee and Sam Amick had inquiries answered.

It’s clear @NBA wanted to spread the love. The problem is NBA players and the sports media have already had access to the NBA’s manner of thinking. Players, including Wade, have been in meetings with the League throughout this lockout. They know – or at least are aware – of the NBA’s position.

Likewise, sportswriters have had access to the NBA through their press conferences which follow every day of labor meetings. This was an opportunity for the NBA to connect with fans. Instead, they looked crass when interacting with players and media. Fans don’t want to see any of that. People are tired of the players and owners fighting; they certainly don’t want to see it brought to Twitter.

The NBA was also rather curt in its answers. I didn’t expect them to be incredibly revealing throughout the Twitterview, as they termed it. They won’t lower themselves to negotiate on Twitter. (Although that didn’t stop them from lowering themselves to arrogantly answering NBA players’ questions.) As I write this, I begin to think the Twitterview wasn’t a good idea. What does the NBA have to gain?

One might think positive public sentiment is there for the taking, but the NBA’s lack of detailed answers meant the opposite. I think people who followed the evening’s question/answer session are even more frustrated with the League. They see the NBA as being even more of a brick wall separating reason from politicking.

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