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). 

Gordon Hayward offers support to Caris LeVert following gruesome ankle injury

Gordon Hayward offers support to Caris LeVert following gruesome ankle injury

BOSTON – It didn’t take long before footage from Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert’s right ankle injury made its way to Gordon Hayward.

The injury suffered by LeVert on Monday against Minnesota had similarities for many to the season-ending ankle injury suffered by Hayward last year.

“I didn’t see it live,” said Hayward, who has returned to the Celtics lineup this year after missing all of last season following his left ankle/leg injury. “I hate to see that. I heard the timeline (for LeVert’s return) is a little better, but still … he was playing really well. You hate injuries for anybody; it’s tough.”

All things considered, the news is indeed optimistic for LeVert, who is expected to return to the Nets lineup at some point this season.

“Fortunately, tests performed revealed that there are no fractures and only moderate ligament damage,” Nets team orthopedist Dr. Martin O’Malley said in a statement. “While the optics of this injury may have appeared to be more severe, surgery will not be required.”

LeVert, in an attempted chase-down block with 3.7 seconds to play in the first half of Brooklyn’s game against Minnesota, came down hard on his right leg after a collision with Jeff Teague.

He was carted off the court and taken to a nearby hospital for further evaluation.

At the time of his injury, LeVert had 10 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds, the kind of stat line that spoke to the kind of breakout season the third-year guard was having.

In 14 games this season, LeVert is averaging 18.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists – all career highs.

Hayward was among the many to tweet their support for LeVert as he begins the road to recovery.

“For sure, anytime somebody goes through a major injury you feel for them,” Hayward said. “And what I’ve been through, I know first-hand what it’s like.”

For Hayward, having others reach out to him, both athletes and non-athletes, following his injury last year was extremely beneficial in helping keep his spirits up as he began his journey toward getting back on the basketball floor this season.

“The fact that people cared, especially initially,” Hayward said. “Even people who hadn’t gone through an injury, you’re getting like random people that saw the injury took the time to reach out and show support. That meant a lot to me.”

And he’s willing to be there for LeVert if needed.

“If he ever needs to reach out, he knows how to get a hold of me,” Hayward said.

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Celtics' Jayson Tatum playing better as a sophomore

Celtics' Jayson Tatum playing better as a sophomore

BOSTON -- Jayson Tatum is a victim of his own success. 

One of the top rookies last season, Tatum emerged as a clutch scorer for the Celtics in the playoffs, whether it was knocking down a 3-pointer or going to the rim and dunking on his childhood idol, LeBron James. 

But these first weeks of the season have reminded us that as good as Tatum has been, he too will experience his share of ups and downs on the floor.

That’s why he wasn’t the least bit phased by delivering a season-high 27 points in Boston’s loss at Portland on Sunday. 


“I never get too excited when I play well,” Tatum said. “I feel like that’s what I’m supposed to do. I know I’m gonna make shots eventually. It’s a long season. Some days it just don’t go in.”

Tatum is hoping those days are behind him now that he’s put together a couple of high-scoring, highly efficient scoring games. 

Although Tatum is only shooting 41.3 percent from the field this season, he has connected on at least 50 percent of his shot attempts in the last two games while averaging 24.0 points per game in that stretch.  

It makes sense for him to start breaking out and making shots considering the Celtics rank among the league’s leaders in open shot attempts. 

“We’re gonna hit open shots eventually,” Tatum said. “It’s still pretty early. We’re not trying to make excuses. Guys in here will figure it out.”


And while there’s understandably a considerable amount of attention given to what Tatum does as a scorer, he’s actually playing better in just about every phase of the game outside of his shooting percentage. 

His scoring, rebounds, assists as well as offensive and defensive ratings, are all better than what he did statistically as a rookie last season. 

But Tatum understands that while the Celtics need him to be an all-around player, he also knows that a big part of what he contributes is directly tied into his ability to make shots at an efficient level. 

That’s’ exactly what he did as a rookie, connecting on 47.5 percent of his field-goal attempts -- including 41.3 percent of his 3-pointers -- while averaging 13.9 points per game. 

Tatum acknowledged that he was in a bit of a shooting funk before breaking out in the last two games, a trend he hopes to continue when Boston returns to the floor to host the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday. 

He explained part of what has gone into him re-discovering his shooting stroke recently. 

“Just concentrating, going a little bit harder in pre-game routines, getting game-like shots,” Tatum said. 


Coach Brad Stevens believes Tatum’s turnaround shooting the ball began in the loss to the Jazz.

“He did a much better job of really picking spots and getting the right looks,” Stevens said Friday's defeat in Utah. “He’s a young guy. I thought he handled the last 48 hours great. I was pleased with how he played.”

Stevens had started the second half of Boston’s comeback win at Phoenix the previous night with Marcus Smart in the lineup in place of Tatum. 

Following the game, Stevens said the decision was not an indictment of any particular player but instead a need to jump-start the team, which was by and large was lethargic up to that point. 

But as we’ve seen with Tatum, good play, bad play, it doesn’t matter. 

He is all about that “on to the next one” mantra, where the goal is to simply keep getting better regardless of how ridiculously high the expectations from others may be for him. 

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