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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). 

'Resilient' Celtics continue to find ways to win

'Resilient' Celtics continue to find ways to win

We have seen the Boston Celtics play less-than-stellar basketball for long stretches, only to turn it on in the second half and escape with a win.

But Monday night’s game at Dallas was different.

Usually it has been Boston’s offense that has kept the game closer than expected, but on Monday it was the team’s defense that struggled more than usual.

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But this team continues to show an ability to withstand all in-game struggles to eventually emerge victorious which was exactly what happened as the Celtics rallied from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to knock off the Mavericks 110-102 in overtime.

The Celtics (16-2) have now won 16 in a row which ties the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history.

But this win, like so many of its predecessors during this historic run, was not one to celebrate afterwards.

“Quite a resilient comeback in the fourth,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Not our best foot forward before that. Of all the comebacks, that did not look good for a long time. We found a way to win it.”

Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 47 points, 10 of which came in the overtime period.

But his performance was just one of many Boston needed to extend its winning streak.

“In a game like this, you have to do whatever it takes, both ends of the floor,” Boston’s Jayson Tatum told reporters afterwards.

And he did just that.

In the final seconds of the fourth quarter, Tatum’s defense forced a Harrison Barnes miss that would have won the game for Dallas.

And in the fourth quarter, Tatum’s rebounding was critical to Boston (16-2) extending its stay atop the NBA standings.

The 6-foot-8 rookie had a near double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds, with four of his boards coming in overtime.

Boston also got another strong game from Jaylen Brown (22 points, nine rebounds) and Marcus Smart, whose shooting was well off the mark most of the night (3-for-15) but like he has done too many times to count, Smart managed to make a positive impact on the game.

He led the Celtics with eight assists off the bench, in addition to a slew of hustle plays that included a desperation save of a ball going out of bounds that managed to find its way into the hands of Kyrie Irving, who drained a much-needed 3-pointer late in the game.

“Those are worth more than whatever the shot goes in,” Stevens said. “That’s why it’s hard to quantify Marcus Smart.”

The same can be said about Boston’s winning streak which has come about despite several stretches, every game seemingly, where the Celtics struggle.

But to their credit, they don’t allow the in-game setbacks take away from their focus night-in and night-out and that’s to find a way, any way possible, to emerge with a victory.

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Stars, studs and duds: Kyrie Irving stands tall

Stars, studs and duds: Kyrie Irving stands tall

As NBC Sports Boston’s Kyle Draper talked with Kyrie Irving following his best performance as a Boston Celtic, you could hear the chants “M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!” from the crowd behind him.
 
Considering the way Irving played on Monday night, that’s not just a case of fandemonium people!
 
Irving delivered a performance that won’t be forgotten anytime soon, tallying 47 points in leading Boston to a 110-102 overtime win at Dallas.
 
With the win, Boston has extended its winning streak to 16 in a row which ties the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
 
While there were lots of Celtics who contributed to the victory, no one stood as tall as Irving who tallied 10 of Boston’s 16 points in overtime.
 
“We had to claw, fight our way back for this one,” Irving told NBC Sports Boston’s Kyle Draper. “But we had to earn it. These guys, the Dallas Mavericks, they gave us their best shot.”
 
And the Celtics countered with their best shot – Irving.
 
Even before the edge-of-the-cliff finish, Irving was in a rhythm that made it absolutely clear that he was going to have a big night scoring the ball.
 
“We just have to continue to get better from this point,” Irving said.
 
And as far as those “M-V-P” chants?
 
“It’s pretty awesome,” Irving said of the chants. “But we got a long way to go.”
 
Here’s a look at Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 110-102 overtime win over Dallas which extends Boston’s winning streak to 16 in a row which is the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
 
 
STAR

Kyrie Irving

This wasn’t even close, folks. Irving kept the Celtics afloat for most of the game, then guided them to victory with a dominant performance. He finished with 47 points, the most he has scored as a Boston Celtic. And on a night when most of the team struggled to make shots, they needed everything he had to offer.
 
 
 
STUDS
 
Harrison Barnes

He had a chance to win it in regulation, but failed to knock down the game-winning shot. Still, Barnes had a strong game for the Mavericks while finishing with 31 points and six rebounds.
 
Jaylen Brown

Kyrie Irving’s backcourt mate had yet another strong performance for the Celtics. He had a near double-double of 22 points and nine rebounds.
 
Jayson Tatum

Don’t let the 15-point total fool you. Tatum was a major factor in Boston’s comebacks with his ability to finish in transition and his defense down the stretch on Barnes gave the Celtics a shot as the game went into overtime.
 
J.J. Barea

The former Northeastern star was a huge spark off the bench for Dallas, tallying 16 points.
 
Marcus Smart

You can count me among those who cringed at a lot of those shots Marcus Smart took – and missed. Despite going 3-for-15 from the field, Boston doesn’t win this game without Marcus Smart. He made hustle plays defensively. He set teammates up for easy scores. And as bad as Smart shot the ball, he did make one of the biggest shots of the night, a 3-pointer that cut Dallas’ lead to 96-94 with 1:23 to play.
 
 

DUDS
 
Al Horford

He poked the ball free from Harrison Barnes late in the game which was a huge play, but for the most part Horford’s imprint on the game was non-existent. He missed four of his five shots from the field, tallying 3 points to go with eight rebounds and seven assists.
 
Dennis Smith Jr.

He is an explosive guard and scored six points in the first couple of minutes. From there, he was a non-factor, finishing with eight points on 4-for-16 shooting and maybe most significant, being nothing more than a cool breeze defensively as Kyrie Irving blew by him time and time again.

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