Business
June 26, 2024

10 Unmissable NBA Social Media Posts From the  2023/24 Season

In the ever-evolving industry of professional sports, eyeballs are currency.

By
Dominic Faria

Photo credit: @sixers/X

In the ever-evolving industry of professional sports, eyeballs are currency. Whether it's the fans who pay to see the action in person, the ones who watch live on television, or even those who follow along through social media highlights, viewership is the most important driver of revenue — and, ultimately, the best barometer for a league's success.

Sure, the games are still the primary product. After seven long months of them, the NBA's 2023/2024 season finally reached its (somewhat anticlimactic) conclusion on June 17 when the Boston Celtics dispatched the Dallas Mavericks in a speedy five games to win the NBA Finals. An average of 11.3 million people tuned in to watch it unfold, primarily via network television.

But just like other leagues and countless other businesses (like Red Bull), the NBA has spent a better part of the last decade finding new ways to create new forms of its own content. To accomplish this, it employs what has become a sports industry-wide standard content strategy that pushes fan engagement through in-house photographers, videographers and reporters who work to deliver a steady stream of online NBA content. Teams are no longer just publishing the standard highlights, post-game pressers and run-of-the-mill media interviews; their accounts are growing more sophisticated, churning out exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, conversations with team reporters, intricate video and photo edits and much, much more. 

Why are brands like the NBA and its 30 franchises producing and publishing their own content? It's simple: branded content is one of the most effective tools with which businesses can drive and sustain customer (or fan, in the NBA's case) interest. Sports fans love to be entertained, and leagues like the NBA have all the drama and intrigue — and content — to feed their insatiable appetite. Pro sports leagues are no longer forced to rely solely on TV networks or local news outlets to tell their story. With social media, they can deliver that content directly to the consumer and reach larger audiences than ever before. 

There's no platform on which the NBA does this better than X (formerly Twitter). Each team runs its own social feeds, and the various team accounts have their own unique ways of connecting to their followers, giving them the insights, information and entertainment they crave. In return, teams get instant feedback through content analytics, informing them of how effectively they're promoting their brand and attracting new audiences.

It's a key component of the NBA's branded content marketing apparatus — engaging and growing its audience through mind-blowing graphics, funny memes or thought-provoking stories that allow fans to see a different side of their favorite players on the court.

With another NBA season in the books, here's a look at some of the most memorable posts from 2024.

10. A Photographic Trip Down Memory Lane

The Celtics jumped on this popular NBA social media trend in the leadup to Game 2 of the Finals, setting the stage with a clever nod to the franchise’s storied past. It’s a remarkably simple yet thoughtful way to bring iconic photographs of club legends to life while stoking engagement and drumming up fan nostalgia ahead of a momentous occasion. What better way to get your audience excited about the present than tying it back to the best parts of your brand?

9. Keeping Receipts

Everyone appreciates a good clap-back — especially NBA fans. This Indiana Pacers post after their Game 7 victory over the New York Knicks took a not-so-subtle shot at ESPN’s panel of basketball analysts who all picked the Knicks to prevail in the series. The “keeping receipts” tactic is a playful brand strategy that shows a little personality and fires up the fanbase.

8. All the Angles

Team social media admins better be ready to capitalize when those special playoff moments happen. The Dallas Mavericks made sure to give their followers all the angles on Luka Doncic’s epic game-winning three-point shot over Minnesota’s Rudy Gobert in the Western Conference Finals. The three simultaneous camera shots (including the bench reaction) give fans another dopamine hit, while also giving the Mavericks another opportunity to tag one of its sponsors on a high-visibility post, a true win-win.

7. Having Fun with the Team Reporter

Sideline reporter Nick Gallo was a popular post-game fixture for the Oklahoma City Thunder this season during their run to the Western Conference Semifinals. On more than one occasion, he was mobbed by Thunder players after a few pivotal wins, and he even participated in the team’s signature dog bark after it clinched the West’s top seed. As those smiles can tell you, there’s a tremendous upside to having in-house reporters embedded night in and night out with the guys on the court. It fosters trust and camaraderie, which can lead to a few viral moments — like these.

6. A Picture is Worth a Thousand … Likes

Sometimes, a single photo speaks for itself. Thanks to the many talented team photographers working throughout the NBA, team accounts can quickly produce their own masterpieces to disseminate out into the Twitter-verse (X-verse?) for fans to cherish. That’s what the Philadelphia 76ers did with this simple post the night Tyrese Maxey stunned Madison Square Garden. And while this tweet elicited some solid traction, a screengrab from the national telecast after this shot created a new meme for a certain New York comedian sitting courtside (spoiler: it was Jon Stewart).

5. “They Ain’t Have to Have Me Looking like Homer Simpson”

The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t go far in the playoffs, but their social team did strike gold with this amusing reaction video featuring a young fan’s strikingly accurate portrait of LeBron James. (It was the hairline that gave it away!) Joking aside, this is an excellent example of using fan engagement (the fan-submitted portrait) to create unique “bonus” content that lets the world see a more playful side of the athletes’ personalities. It’s this relatability that endears people to your brand.

4. Basketball is Art

Since we’re on the topic of art, it would be difficult to put together this list without at least mentioning the brilliant ArtButMakeItSports X account that has ballooned to over 470,000 followers. Within minutes, the human behind the page finds a piece of art that bears freakishly accurate resemblance to whatever screengrab of a sports image comes their way — and in this case, it was Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards crossing Denver’s Reggie Jackson into the earth. Smart move by the Timberwolves social team to give the curator of this account a big tip of the cap (and maybe also enjoy the visibility that comes with leveraging another account with a big following).

3. Murray Magic in a Flipbook

Sticking with the art theme, the Denver Nuggets found a creative way to recreate and amplify one of the team’s signature moments of the playoffs. The Nuggets enlisted the services of one talented artist to draw and animate Jamal Murray’s thrilling first-round game-winner against the Lakers, giving fans a new way to enjoy a big-time highlight — as opposed to a simple re-posting of the broadcast feed. It shows that sometimes, a little outside-the-box thinking can go a long way in brand promotion.

2. Gru on the Hardwood

Teams posting player pre-game outfits is common across the vast web of NBA Twitter, but fit pics that get 2.8 million views are a bit harder to come by. That’s the magic of Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic, who showed up to the team’s first playoff game this year looking like Gru from the movie Despicable Me and set the internet ablaze. As it turned out, the carefully coordinated outfit was part of Jokic’s ad campaign for Despicable Me 4, demonstrating the symbiotic relationship between team accounts and their players’ promotional partnerships. (It also allowed the three-time MVP to show off a bit of his unexpected acting chops.)

1. Anything is Possible, Again

Simple. Elegant. Timeless. The Celtics succeeded with this excellent callback to the iconic moment when Kevin Garnett won the NBA title with the franchise 16 years earlier. This photo of Jayson Tatum captured all the elation and emotion of Boston’s 18th championship victory, adding another indelible moment to the club’s rich history of basketball greatness.

By
Dominic Faria

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