Ranking each league's Twitter experience

Ranking each league's Twitter experience

Darren Rovell once (or probably a million times) called Twitter the world’s greatest sports bar, and it’s a good label. Like any sports bar, it’s got its collection of know-it-alls, wiseasses and, well, people you wish would just leave the bar, but which sport actually has the “best” Twitter? 

Because this is the most boring time of the sports calendar, there’s no better time than now to try and figure it out. 

Without using any technical data and instead basing it one thousand percent on opinion, let's break each of the four major North American sports’ Twitters into three categories: Teams/players, Reporters and memes/entertainment factor. 

Each sport will be given a ranking from best (1) to worst (4), and the leagues’ Twitters will be ranked according to their total scores. Here’s what we’ll look for in each category: 

TEAMS/PLAYERS: Really the least-important category as it relates to sports Twitter. Team Twitter accounts should serve two key functions: 

- Press-releases/team news: Anything that goes on the team website can also go on Twitter. Very easy. 

- Live-tweeting games: Because giving play-by-play of games on Twitter is the actual worst thing on the planet, but if every team does it, it should theoretically mean no media member has to to do it, therefore making that sports’ Twitter a far less cluttered space. 
That’s it. They don’t need to be silly or funny, though that can certainly be a bonus. That said, for obvious reasons, team Twitter accounts can’t make the same types of jokes as fans and media members, and the shock factor of a team Twitter account cracking a joke has long faded.

As for players, they are regularly subjected to social media training, but enough of them have decided they just don’t care. Some players’ Twitter accounts are great for how funny they are (Roberto Luongo), while others’ presence lends itself to really entertaining stuff, even if it’s unintentional (J.J. Watt). 

REPORTERS: This one’s a specific classification for news-breaking purposes, so “reporters” here means actual “reporters,” meaning the go-to people for reporting and news. Each sport has infinite writers who factor into another category here, but a key function as it relates to sports Twitter is getting breaking news. These people — the Schefters and Shams of the world — are the people who do it. 

MEMES/ENTERTAINMENT FACTOR: This is where the real party happens. Each sports leagues’ collective Twitter is a community, and it isn’t the players or reporters, but rather the observers, who make or break it. 

This category covers everything, from obsessive fans to witty writers to the life-savers who post endless GIFs. Using that Rovell analogy, this category is the people at the bar. 

1. NBA

Teams/players: 2

Reporters: 2

Memes/entertainment factor: 1 

Last week, Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted a link to a report with the following caption: “Jazz, Celtics engage on Gordon Hayward sign-and-trade for Jae Crowder. Latest story with @ramonashelburn.”

It was a typical tweet from Wojnarowski: A piece of NBA news, which in this case came courtesy of a colleague. It was informative; it was relevant. 

Yet it wasn’t until you actually clicked on the tweet -- not the link, but the tweet -- that the real party began. The top response: “Tatum > Fultz don’t @ me.” 

To that, an account with “Trust the Process” as part of its name responded, “Your max guys are Hayward and Horford.” The Celtics fan responded, “Your future” with a picture of the 76ers’ young stars -- Markelle Fultz included -- standing in slings, braces and crutches. That then yielded a gif of Tom Cat spanking Jerry Mouse, with LeBron James’ face over Tom and Lucky’s face over Jerry. Back and forth it went. 

That’s basketball Twitter in a nutshell. A piece of information about the Celtics’ salary cap turns into a marathon debate over whether the Celtics handled the draft right, complete with ridiculous memes and jokes. All within a matter of minutes. Basketball Twitter has the best fan engagement (again, saying this with absolutely no statistics) of any of these leagues, and that's what makes it great. That and stuff like this. 

2. NHL

Teams/players: 1

Reporters: 4

Memes/entertainment factor: 2

The teams/reporters combo here is a bit of a double-edged sword, as there are obvious news-breaking machines (shouts Bob McKenzie aka Bobby Margarita), but teams have become increasingly stingy with trying to hold news for themselves. That makes it important to follow teams for the sake of getting news, but it also takes a lot of the fun out of the rumor mill. 

High marks for memes and entertainment factor because hockey is a highlight-heavy sport, making it perfect for GIFs. The number of users willing to clip and post GIFs has shot way up in recent years, meaning a hockey fan can keep up with each night’s action -- complete with visuals -- even if they don’t have access to the Center Ice package. Of course, it's also GIF-heavy enough that the worst parts of games can be social media highlights. 

The reason the NHL gets the top ranking for the teams/players category is because it has the single best professional athlete account in the world: Roberto Luongo. 

3. NFL

Teams/players: 4

Reporters: 1

Memes/entertainment factor: 3

While the NFL is the most popular league, the actual act of watching the game is so busy that there often isn’t room for Twitter. Any given game-watching experience can consist of the game that’s on, flipping to Red Zone and keeping track of one’s fantasy team(s). Twitter often takes a back seat. 

That said, it is key to reference it for in-game updates on injuries, and the same group of reporters that bring that news are crucial in the offseason. Nothing beats a good Adam Schefter mini-meltdown over Jimmy Garoppolo trade rumors. 

While the game-watching experience is already extremely busy, the league itself is also responsible for football Twitter taking a backseat. Last season, the NFL banned teams from posting highlights, including GIFs, of game footage, threatening to fine teams $100,000 for being repeat offenders. They relaxed the rule a bit before long, but still, how silly can you get? Oh, that's right, silly enough to think you're hot stuff because you tweeted the lyrics to the Fresh Prince theme. Cool? 

4. MLB

Teams/players: 3

Reporters: 3

Memes/entertainment factor: 4

A good rule of thumb is that if your Twitter avatar is a picture of you and your family on vacation, you stink. Baseball Twitter is a lot of avatars of people on vacation. Lot of people who stink. 

Other than that, baseball Twitter has some catching up to do given that it wasn’t always cool with videos and GIFs being posted. Fortunately there are still a lot of creative people who are good with memes and mocking the hokeyness of baseball (cough Carrabis cough). 

Blakely: Jaylen Brown evolving into high-impact player before our eyes

Blakely: Jaylen Brown evolving into high-impact player before our eyes

BOSTON – Jaylen Brown can still hear the murmurs from draft night two years ago shortly after his name was called. 

It was the pinnacle for every kid who has ever dreamed of being an NBA player, and yet Brown’s moment of great adulation from fans became a dream deferred with a mix of cheers and jeers from Celtics fans who felt the team would have been better off packaging the No. 3 pick used on Brown to acquire a more proven talent. 

That would serve as one of the many boulder-sized chips on Brown’s shoulders that has brought him to where he is now, as one of the biggest breakout performers in the playoffs. 

He is coming off a career-high 30 points in Boston’s 120-106 win, making the 21-year-old the youngest player in Celtics history to score 30 or more in a playoff game.

Brown comes into Friday night’s Game 3 matchup leading the Celtics (2-0 in best-of-seven series) averaging a team-high 25 points per game on 51.2 percent shooting from the field and 41.2 percent from 3-point range. 


What Brown is doing now is a direct reflection of the progress made in his overall game from where it was a year ago, even if it doesn’t seem like that big a deal to him.

“To be honest, I don’t even pay attention to it. I’ve just been playing basketball all year,” Brown said following Tuesday’s win. “My teammates help me out a lot by finding me. Terry (Rozier) found me a lot throughout the course of the game and I was able to take some shots. Ultimately, we just want to win games, so that’s the only thing that we are concerned with. We are confident as ever. Teams have been writing us off all year and we just keep proving people wrong, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

Proving folks wrong is part of the narrative that is Brown’s story. 

When he came into the NBA, folks loved his athleticism. But his jumper, ball-handling and defensive awareness needed work. There’s an expectation that with time and experience, young players will get better. But what we’ve seen in Brown is more than just growth. It’s the byproduct of a young man who's extremely motivated to do more than just get better. 

He wants to be the best player on the floor, every minute he’s out there. While it is a goal that he’ll fall short of achieving, Brown is developing into a major, high-impact player before our very eyes. 

“Well I think Jaylen loves the moment,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “I think he really appreciated the opportunity like to – to compete on this stage and at this level and we’ve seen him against the better teams in the league all year be able to really raise his level in some of the biggest games. And, you know, I think that obviously he’s gaining more experience by the minute and he – he lived quite a lot last year. And so, he’s one of our more experienced guys in some ways in this setting.”

It is a setting Brown has always felt that it was a matter of when, not if, he would be here. And while he has certainly become a fan favorite, he knows he still has a few skeptics out there.

“I love it. I thrive off it,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston. “When people say this, say that, tell you what you’re gonna do, tell you how successful you are going to be, I smile and keep it moving.”



Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown showing up Bucks veterans

Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown showing up Bucks veterans

BOSTON – When this Boston-Milwaukee playoff series began, there were legitimate questions about how Boston’s youthful backcourt tandem of Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown would hold up against the Bucks and their more experienced tandem led by Eric Bledsoe and Tony Snell.

Two games and two Celtics wins later, this hasn’t even been marginally close with Boston’s 1-2 backcourt punch delivering one big shot after another which has been among the keys to Boston taking a 2-0 series lead as Games 3 and 4 shift to Milwaukee.

In two games, Rozier and Brown have outscored Milwaukee’s starting backcourt 96-25.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens believes those numbers are a bit skewed because they don’t take into account the scoring of Khris Middleton whom Stevens considers as being part of the Milwaukee backcourt.

Ok, coach.

Add Middleton’s 56 points scored in the first two games and that brings the Bucks’ perimeter point total up to 81.

“We’re trying a lot of different bodies on Middleton,” Stevens said. “Bledsoe’s a handful because of his ability to drive the ball and knock down shots off screens. And Snell as always been a guy that’s been able to make open shots.”

But if you’re gonna factor in Middleton’s points for Milwaukee, you have to throw in Jayson Tatum’s 23 points in two games which would bring the final tally to 122-81, a staggering lopsided figure as well. 

Stevens knows all too well that the road for his perimeter players and his entire team for that matter, will only get rougher in time.

“We know we have our hands full and our guys are preparing ever game like that’s the case,” Stevens said.

And even with the lopsided nature of the scoring thus far from the starting perimeter players by Boston, there’s still a sense that some Bucks – ok, one Bucks player – isn’t quite ready to put some respect on what the Celtics were able to do perimeter-wise in Games 1 and 2.

Bledsoe, who is averaging 10.5 points in this series, was asked about Rozier’s play after two games which in addition to averaging 23.0 points also includes him failing to turn the ball over once in more than 78 minutes of action.

“Who?” was Bledsoe’s initial responded which was followed by, “I don’t even know who the (expletive) that is.”

Stevens was aware of Bledsoe’s comments about Rozier but made it clear that he was not going to get into anything that might he constructed as a war of words.

“I heard that,” said Stevens about the comments in regards to Rozier before adding, “Our team is just focused on Game 3.”