Detroit Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva brought social media to the forefront in the NBA last season when he tweeted from the locker room during halftime as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. Within a period of months countless players around the league, including Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Marquis Daniels, have adopted this trend. Some have even used sites like Twitter as an outlet to break their own news. In response, the NBA has released a set of guidelines heading into the 2009-10 season.
The NBA formally announced its new social media guidelines Wednesday, informing teams through a league memorandum that the use of cell phones, PDAs and other electronic communications devices — and thus accessing Twitter, Facebook and similar social media sites — is now prohibited during games for players, coaches and other team personnel involved in the game.
The league has defined “during games” as the period of time beginning 45 minutes before the opening tip and ending “after the postgame locker room is open to the media and coaches and players have first fulfilled their obligation to be available to media attending the game.”
“During games” also encompasses halftime, according to the memo, but the new guidelines do allow players to engage in social networking during the pregame media ccess period that starts 90 minutes before tipoff and lasts for 45 minutes.
Coaches and team executives are expected to largely welcome the league’s edict, as they generally frown upon mobile-phone use in the locker room and on team buses, although the severity of restrictions generally vary from team to team given the rise in recent years in texting and e-mailing from handheld devices.
The league’s announcement also included the expected caveat that teams “are free to adopt their own rules relating to the use of electronic communication devices and social media sites and services during practices, meetings and other team events.”