'Yo, Carl, tweet me later!'
If you have Twitter and Instagram (and if you don't by now, why the heck not?), you need to be following Drew Gooden, Stephen Curry and Royce White. As well as a few other especially "social" NBA players.
Why? Well, for very, very different reasons.
If you follow Gooden, you could win some free tickets to a game just for betraying your favorite team.
If you follow Curry, he might come to your house and you could beat him at ping-pong.
And if you follow White, you could have him berate you over a viewpoint if you happen to be a well-respected NBA writer.
In the following slides, I've ranked the top eight breakout stars of new media—mainly on Twitter with a sprinkling of Instagram.
Some clout is rewarded for being bitterly interactive and reactive. More points are given for being amusing. And the highest scores go to those who actually give out free tickets and memorabilia to their "tweeps," the holy grail of new media.
Attention fantasy owners: Al Harrington can't stand upright.
I'll start this off on a personal note. Al Harrington may not be a "breakout" Twitter star to most people, but he is one to me.
Just before the season began, my fantasy league held its draft. In the 10th round, I selected Al Harrington for my team, The Frozen Envelopes. And no, I hadn't done my research.
I remembered Harrington had averaged almost 18 points and five boards with the New York Knicks. And I knew that "Buckets" posted 14 and six last season with the Denver Nuggets.
What I did not recall is that after undergoing minor knee surgery, Harrington had gotten a nasty staph infection that is still delaying his return to the Orlando Magic.
I tweeted out a picture of my roster, saying, "Pretty happy with this, except Al Harrington." That prompted this reply from the verified account of cheddahcheese7:
@therealhojnacki Trade him....— al harrington (@cheddahcheese7) October 28, 2012
Oops. He did not reply to my further queries and backtracking, but I love the Twitter handle and his background. Harrington has yet to take the court and has next to no trade value. I dropped him and he is still on the waiver wire.
But it's nice to know that he's searching Twitter for his name and calling out people's fantasy decisions.
Don't worry, I made up for the Harrington pick by snagging DeMar DeRozan, Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic in the late rounds.
Royce White. Houston Rocket, media critic.
The Houston Rockets selected Iowa State's Royce White with the 16th overall pick in the draft.
He was rising on many draft boards, but teams remained wary due to his well-publicized anxiety condition and fear of flying (Jonathan Abrams of Grantland.com did a lengthy, pre-draft piece on him).
On November 16, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski wrote a piece stating (accurately) that White has yet to join the Rockets during the regular season and has been blaming them for not doing enough to support his condition. Wojnarowski—a noted and respected columnist in the pro basketball world—speculated some reasons as to why White would jeopardize his NBA career in such a manner.
More than a week later, White responded with a barrage of tweets assailing the veracity and sensitivity of Wojnarowski's piece. White accused him of "IRRESPONSIBLE JOURNALISM," and stated that Wojnarowski "wrote things that weren't true, I'm on his heels." He also questioned Wojnarowski's lack of a source in the report.
White proceeded to tweet out several quotes from the article followed simply by, "FALSE!" Ultimately, White sounds like someone engaged in a solemn struggle with a psychological disorder, but it's extremely difficult to impute the thoughts of White or the team.
@wojyahoonba Lol... So how good you are should determine if you get the proper support for a medical condition? Baffling!— Royce White (@Highway_30) November 24, 2012
The fact remains that White has yet to play for Houston. Wojnarowski has not responded to White.
Andray Blatche is a bit too gleeful to be out of Washington.
Andray Blatche has a great name, which sometimes prompts Charles Barkley to call him "Blotch" with no intention of humor. Blatche is flourishing with the Brooklyn Nets (9.4 points and 5.7 rebounds in 17.9 minutes per game through 15 contests) after floundering with the Washington Wizards for several seasons prior to being amnestied.
After the Nets' overtime victory against the New York Knicks on November 26, Blatche tweeted, "Feels good to be part of a winning organization." This was clearly a passive-aggressive dig at his old team, the Washington Wizards, who were 0-11 at the time. Washington has since managed to eke out a win over a Portland Trail Blazers squad that fielded a one-handed Wesley Matthews.
This was tweeted out shortly after Blatche asked aloud in the Brooklyn locker room (per NBA.com's John Schuhmann), "Anybody seen how the Wizards are doing?"
Blatche went on to tweet a barely legible admission that he was out of shape during his time with the Wiz, but it actually wasn't his fault:
Idc wat a wiz fan say yes I was outta shape Ill give yal that but no body n that organization tried to help me with
— andray blatche (@drayblatche) November 27, 2012
I guess the Wizards didn't schedule Blatche to participate in training camp, workouts or practices to maintain his fitness. Oh, wait, they did. Following Blatche is worth it just to keep track of his sarcasm and lack of accountability—not to mention keeping track of his motorcycle riding and friendship with Sesame Street residents.
Kendall Marshall. Stay away from his sister.
One of the great things about the NBA draft is that it provides us with a whole new crop of Twitter accounts to check out.
One of the best is Kendall Marshall, aka, KButter5. The former UNC Tar Heel was drafted by the Phoenix Suns with the 13th overall pick. Although he was recently assigned to their D-League affiliate, that is likely a temporary move.
Marshall is an avid tweeter who regularly dispenses pearls of wisdom, ethical quandaries and randomly funny thoughts.
The previous day, he offered followers this age-old philosophical conundrum:
If your sister dated your best friend would you be more at ease b/c you know him or would it be even weirder? #Hypothetical
— Kendall Marshall (@KButter5) November 29, 2012
I'm an only child, but I'm pretty sure the answer is that you kick your friend's butt and then tell him at least she's not with some jerk.
Front-runner for Rookie Beard of the Year.
Quincy Acy is a rookie out of Baylor who plays (or mostly doesn't) for the Toronto Raptors. He has been turning heads and earning fans primarily for his stupendous beard that rivals James Harden's.
It's also nice to know that professional athletes love celebrity sightings as much as us normal folks, even if they don't actually know the celebrity's name. Recently, Acy tweeted about seeing that guy with the weird name who was Jesus Christ:
Just saw the guy who played Jesus in Passion of The Christ outside of our hotel ....I almost was in awe lol he played that role so well
— Quincy Acy (@QuincyAcy) November 23, 2012
It's Jim Caviezel, by the way. And he knows a thing or two about basketball, as according to IMDB, he portrayed a basketball player (uncredited) in Blue Chips.
He's got the best hair and the best Instagram account in the NBA.
Iman Shumpert is a regular Renaissance man. Yes, the second-year player is an adept shooting guard who can shut down opponents with his stifling defense.
But did you know that he's a pretty good rapper too (you can listen on his website)? Or did you know that he has an encyclopedic shoe collection? And did you know that he's a fashion maven?
He's got plenty of time on his hands at the moment, as he's still rehabbing from knee surgery. You can find hilarious photos on both his Twitter and Instagram accounts, like the Knicks having Thanksgiving dinner (Tyson Chandler is PUMPED about the stuffing), Jason Kidd looking like he just had a lobotomy or Shump on his way to an '80s party.
There is so much to love here. Just park yourself on 21 Shump St.
'Let's see, which opponent should I insult tonight?'
Well, on November 26, the Milwaukee Bucks traveled to Chicago to take on the Bulls. The night before the game, after Gooden announced to the Twitterverse that he had arrived in Chicago, Bulls center Joakim Noah tweeted him to "quit clownin and eat your food goodybagz."
Some playful trash talk ensued, with Gooden responding, "Lmao. @JoakimNoah heard you eating @PFChangs tonight. Don't get the chopsticks tangled in your wig." Noah advised Gooden that he did not want to get into a Twitter war.
That's when Gooden upped the ante, issuing this challenge for free tickets to his followers:
First person that can twit pic me a Chicago Bulls jersey in the toilet will get my tickets for tonight's game— Drew Gooden (@DrewGooden) November 26, 2012
And Zack Krupp (aka, Kruppsanity35) wasted no time in responding by quickly throwing his Kirk Hinrich jersey in the toilet.
There were only two problems. Krupp is a Bulls fan, and Gooden used to be Hinrich's teammate with both the Kansas Jayhawks and Chicago Bulls.
Gooden honored his word and gave a pair of $115 tickets to Krupp, though he wrote that he "hated for it to have been Kirk's jersey." And Dan Cahill of the Chicago Sun-Times also caught up with the conflicted fan to find out what on earth he was thinking by disgracing the team's uniform just to snag free tickets.
Krupp said he wouldn't have done that with his Michael Jordan or Derrick Rose jersey, and he even used a flotation device so Hinrich's jersey wasn't totally submerged.
Oh, then it's okay.
And by the way, the Bucks outscored the Bulls 30-12 in the fourth quarter to come away with an emphatic 93-92 win.
'I'm coming to your house next!'
While Stephen Curry has been a steady presence on social media for some time now, you may not have been aware of it because he plays for a team called the Golden State Warriors (yes, they're in the NBA).
This is someone you need to follow (he's here). Curry does monthly contests to keep his fans stimulated and he seems like a pretty awesome dude.
In the past, he held a contest where the best video of a fan making a trick shot would win the prize of having Curry record their outgoing voicemail message. The winning fan, Jeff Lorenz ("my man Jeff can't come to the phone") hit a shot from the raised deck of his parents' home, which is behind the backboard.
Jeff then invited Curry to come to the house in New Jersey and attempt the shot for himself.
And Curry actually came when he was nearby to play the Philadelphia 76ers.
It took him nine tries to make it (video is here on Curry's website). Then he played Jeff in ping-pong and lost.
That's one cool guy. This month's contest involves sending a message of support to one of Curry's teammates in order to win an Egraph personalized by him (just use #SC30).
Respect to him for finding time for his fans. Stephen Curry, you are the top breakout Twitter star of the NBA.