More than any other professional sports league, the NBA is an ongoing telenovela, structured around the games outside the games, dependant on the personalities of the odd and whimsical multi-millionaires whose thoughts are now readily available, unfiltered, on social media. It is one long inside joke, and this is why the highlight of the NBA calendar often occurs weeks after the Finals themselves, during a free agency period that is fraught with the kind of off-court unpredictability that hardcore basketball fans embrace almost more than they do the games themselves.
Five years to the day of the LeBron James famous “The Decision,” came the wildest day in NBA offseason on Wednesday. After verbally agreeing to sign with the Dallas Mavericks last Friday, free agent center DeAndre Jordan changed course, opting to instead re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers on a day that will be forever known as “The Indecision.”
According to reports, it involved Chris Paul leaving his banana boat behind to join the recruiting effort, the Clippers refusing to leave DeAndre’s house until midnight, Mark Cuban calling out an ESPN reporter for saying he was frantically driving around Houston looking for DeAndre’s house, and some very good tweets.
If you were paying attention Wednesday night, it was hilariously riveting stuff, a cocktail of Clipper guile and Dallas desperation playing out in real time (There was some mild faux-outrage over Jordan backing out of the Mavs agreement, but give me a break: People in every profession have changes of heart and go back to their old jobs, even when they’ve signed contracts. Happens all the time. It’s just not on Twitter). And in the flurry of messages, which peaked around midnight Houston time with Pierce sending out a photo of himself standing over Jordan as he signed his new Clippers deal, it was possible to see how social media has transformed sports.
Think about it: This whole incident didn’t go down on a network or a news site, or with handlers or agents or publicists and carefully crafted statements. There were NBA reporters getting good stuff (Woj and Shelburne, as always) but most of the hard info was coming from the participants themselves. All of the good jokes, too. Whether it was a grand plan or not, the Clippers were using social media to control a tricky narrative—those tweets did a fairly brilliant job of turning a bit of backroom corporate maneuvering into cheeky, off-the-cuff comedic theater. We’ve seen social media backfire on athletes quite a bit, and there are times that Twitter can degenerate into a cesspool of hate, but it did not on Wednesday. Does anyone—besides Mavericks fans, of course—not like Blake Griffin a little bit more now?
That’s not a small thing. This remains an era of intense and overwrought scrutiny of public figures, and yet social media has allowed high-profile people to pull back the usual layers of phoniness and controlled environment overmanagement and showcase something closer to their real selves. (Again: Social media is a high-wire act, not for everyone, and there are plenty of high profile people who should try as hard as possible to avoid showcasing their real selves.) But when the timeline happens like it did during the battle for DeAndre Jordan, it’s hard not to see value for sports and the people who follow them. The game, it’s clear, is changing.Take Our Poll
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Filed under: Social Media Tagged: brand engagement, brand management, dallas mavericks, deandre jordan, free agent, Los Angeles Clippers, NBA, Social Media