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To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

04.02.09 at 1:07 am ET
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“first 5 people who meet me at the garden in the players parking lot entrance at 445 with my jersey on get free tickets password is truth”

Less than a week ago, Paul Pierce started a frenzy in Boston when he began offering up Celtics tickets on Twitter. Since then, fans have been heading to the TD Banknorth Garden in hopes of snagging a hand delivered gift from Pierce. This was no joke — five lucky fans watched the Celtics beat the Oklahoma City Thunder from Pierce’s personal suite.

In just three days, Pierce’s invitation blew up all over the Internet. But on Wednesday, after tweeting about tickets for the Celtics-Charlotte Bobcats game, he had to renege his offer with this announcement: Do to the ammount in traffic and responce we r gonna to pospone this givaway for fridays game.

While Pierce has created a tweeting phenomenon in the Celtics community, not every player wants to put their lives out there for anyone to simply “follow” with the click of a mouse. How do other members of the Celtics who are not on Twitter view the social network?

“I wouldn’t say that I would be against it,” said Ray Allen. “I think when we do something, it becomes habit forming. So when you do it over and over again, you somewhat have to stick to it because people expect it. It’s like if you score 20 points in your first NBA game, they expect it the next game and the next game after that. So it becomes a ritual that you somewhat have to perform. But I wouldn’t be against it.”

There are dozens of NBA players on Twitter. Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O’Neal was one of the first to publicize his profile. More recently, Milwaukee Bucks forward Charlie Villanueva brought tweeting to the forefront when he was punished for sending updates from the locker room during halftime of the Bucks-Celtics game.

Celtics guard Stephon Marbury is also part of the Twitter community. He already posts personal videos on his website, starbury.com, but saw this as another outlet to spread his own message with statements like: i like the direct connection to the fans. no espn, no local news, just me and twitterland.

Allen agrees there are benefits to putting the words back in the players mouths.

“I think a lot of times when we do what we do around here, speaking to the media before and after games, we have no control where it goes and how it goes,” he said. “A lot of times you could break the words up, they could be taken out of context, you never know. I think when you set forth your own agenda, you can put it out there the way you want it to be out there.”

For every player who has a legitimate account, there are even more whose identity is falsified. Take Leon Powe: According to Twitter, he has more than 300 followers who he keeps updated on his knee injury and even the weather. But as it turns out, Powe didn’t even know what Twitter was, let alone manage a profile.

“I don’t even mess with the computers like that. If I did, it would be cool, but nobody has come to me and talked to me about anything like that,” he said, adding, “I think being an athlete, it could be a positive but sometimes it could be a negative, too. Being an athlete, you’re always out there and people are always going to find stories and find what you did eight years ago. So it’s basically the same thing.”

Powe is in favor of using Twitter for a good cause, such as giving away tickets as Pierce does. But it feels invasive to him when people know the miniscule details of his daily life.

“That’s weird to me,” he said. “I don’t do that. I don’t do that. I think that’s weird, but that’s just me. I wouldn’t do it like that. But some players probably like doing that stuff. It’s based on what you like.”

Social networking sites also pose challenges for young players in the league. Rookie Bill Walker is still going through the process of figuring out what he should and should not say to the media. At least in the locker room he can rely on the watchful ear of a media relations team. His words would not be monitored, though, if he joined Twitter.

“You don’t know how much you can put out there and what to keep back. Right now it’s kind of just learning my way, what we can put out there and how much of ourselves we can show,” said Walker, adding, “If it sounds wrong to you, you shouldn’t say it. That’s what I believe. If you say something, just make sure it’s your opinion, your thought, and you stand by it.”

While other players weigh the options of tweets and twittering, Pierce and Marbury continue to keep everyone up to date on the Celtics. Welcome to, as Marbury puts it, “Twitterland.”

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