|One year later: The tweet that impacted the NBA||03.15.10 at 11:22 pm ET|
One year ago Monday, then-Milwaukee forward Charlie Villanueva entered the locker room during halftime of the Bucks-Celtics game. He logged into Twitter and posted the following tweet:
@CV31: In da locker room, snuck to post my twitt. We’re playing the Celtics, tie ball game at da half. Coach wants more toughness. I gotta step up.
Those hundred-something characters opened the virtual book on social networking in the NBA. His midgame tweet was frowned upon, and it created a ripple effect: Before the start of this season, a league-wide policy was enacted. Among its guidelines included the restriction of cell phones and other communication devices 45 minutes before the game and prohibited it during halftime.
A year later, Villanueva, now a member of the Pistons, is still surprised by the impact.
“It’s funny, because Twitter wasn’t really that big of a deal, like nobody really knew too much about it,“ he told WEEI.com following Monday’s Pistons-Celtics game. “I didn’t know it was going to get that much attention. I just did it, fun for the fans and whatnot, and the next day it just blew up. The media just took it and ran with it.
“Obviously I didn’t mean for it to get that much attention, but hey, it put my name out there even more,” he added with a laugh.
As of Monday night, Villanueva had 73,685 followers. It is a huge jump from his following a year ago. In an instant, he went from a Twitter novice to one of the early faces of social media in the NBA.
“It was crazy because I had just started, too,” he said. “I probably had like 2,000 followers at first. It was probably a couple of months old, two or three months old, my account. After that, it rose to like 13,000 in two or three days. It was ridiculous. Ever since, it’s just been picking up.”
Villanueva has turned a potential negative into a positive by taking advantage of the benefits of social networking. He has raised awareness for charitable organizations, held contests for his followers to win game tickets, and spread well wishes to friends and fans alike.
“There are a lot of opportunities,” he explained. “You get to meet a lot of people. It’s very important for networking, just opportunities come abound, appearances, they can just work directly with you instead of going through a third party.”
Twitter has become the norm for many NBA players. On the Celtics, Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) has over 1.5 million followers, Ray Allen (@greenRAYn20) has nearly 25,000, and Shelden Williams (@SheldenWilliams) is a frequent tweeter with over 10,000 followers.
Now a seasoned vet, Villanueva has some advice for his fellow NBA athletes who are starting out in the world of social networking.
“What the fans want to see is you being straight up and interacting with them as well,“ he suggested. “Showing pictures as well, they want to see what’s going on, what an NBA player does on a day-to-day basis.”
Tweeting has become something Villanueva does on a day-to-day basis. Except during halftime, of course.
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