With the Highest Social Interactions Among Fans
The 2019-20 NBA season is officially underway, although it feels like it never ended with all of the movement this offseason. The current champions, the Toronto Raptors, no longer have their Finals MVP in Kawhi Leonard. And the long-standing dynasty from Golden State seems to have come to an end. There is also more buzz around this year’s rookies than seasons past, with Zion Williamson, Coby White, and Ja Morant headlining this year’s class. Each NBA season is full of entertaining moments off the court, as well as incredible displays of athleticism on the court. We should not expect this year to be any different.
Damian Lillard dropped his 3rd studio album under the name Dame D.O.L.L.A earlier this year. The album, entitled Big D.O.L.L.A, actually received some critical acclaim, with features from notable rappers like Lil Wayne and Jeremih. While Lillard’s musical career is usually not what he’s known for, it shows that he’s not contained within the sports world as an influential figure. He is not afraid to branch out of his segment as an athlete and explore new avenues. And after an interview where he discussed Shaquille O’Neal’s rapping career, Shaq responded with a diss track towards Lillard. In response, Lillard released two songs directed at Shaq that he promoted on his Instagram and Twitter. Each diss track drove a ton of interaction on his social channels and helped Lillard immensely in the October leaderboard. Lillard also released a music video that was coupled with a Spotify-produced mini-doc detailing Lillard’s musical roots, both promoted on his Instagram. All of this on top of the NBA season starting for one of the best players in the league firmly cements Lillard at #2 on the interactions leaderboard.
Joel Embiid was picked 3rd overall in the 2014 Draft. Karl Anthony-Towns was picked 1st overall in the 2015 NBA Draft. Both of these 7 footers have now developed into some of the best players in their respective conferences. The Timberwolves and 76ers have gotten off to an above-average start to the season, and they have had their history of beef, but nothing at the level of this game. On Oct. 30, the third game of the season for each team, KAT and Embiid engaged in a fight that resulted in a 2-game suspension for each player. What started off as an aggressive double team from Embiid on KAT turned into a full-scale brawl in seconds. Multiple players were involved, Ben Simmons even putting KAT in a headlock, but only Embiid and KAT were handed suspensions. Shortly after the fight, each player took to Instagram. Embiid took a shot at KAT, even bringing their former teammate, Jimmy Butler, into the mix. KAT responded with an Instagram pic of his own, saying he was “RAISED AROUND LIONS”. Embiid responded in the comments with another message of his own, and the beef is still very much alive. While a Wolves-Sixers playoff series could only come if both teams were to reach the Finals, all eyes will be on the next regular-season game between these two to be played in Minnesota on March 24.
Social MVP Kyle Kuzma
For being the third-best player on the Lakers, Kyle Kuzma is the best player in the league in terms of interaction around his social channels. Kuzma has historically been great on social media. He posts frequently and he posts relevant content that connects with a younger audience. It also helps that Kuzma has played in Los Angeles, arguably the largest NBA market, his whole career. And for being a role-player for the majority of his career, his personal brand has grown considerably. His new teammate, Anthony Davis, spent the first part of his career in New Orleans, a much smaller market for such a generational player. Kuzma has amassed 3.9M followers on Instagram in his first three years in the NBA, while Davis amassed 4.6M Instagram followers through seven years in New Orleans. While follower count is not the best indicator for a good promoter, it shows the different reach that some of these NBA players have. And Kuzma actually did not even play a game in October, being sidelined with a stress injury in his foot for the first four games of the season. This goes to show the immense value that Kuzma is able to provide any brand looking to engage a new audience.
The NBA is in such a unique position since it feels like everything about the athletes is so personal. There is a constant feeling that the NBA season never ends since just as much happens in the offseason as the regular season. Almost all of the players use social media on a regular basis and are great adopters of new trends. Even though it does not receive the same national attention as the NFL and isn’t regarded as a national pastime like the MLB, it is becoming more and more prevalent that out of the four major American sports, the NBA resonates the most with a global audience.
Written by Patrick Romo
Patrick recently graduated from San Diego State University in May 2019, finishing with a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies, emphasis in Economics. He initially joined Hookit as a Sales Development intern in September 2018 and transitioned into a full-time partnership role after graduation. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, playing basketball and beach volleyball, and exploring southern California. Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, he is a lifelong Cubs fan and the greatest/most stressful moment of his life was Game 7 of the 2016 World Series.