Fads, by definition, come and go, and that’s especially true for fads originating in the digital world. Services like MySpace, Napster and Google Wave have all seen periods of intense growth, followed by a plateau of varying duration before all but falling completely out of our collective consciousness. Things that seemed so important end up being imminently disposable. It’s the new way of the world.
Is Twitter, the insanely popular social networking and micro-blogging (for lack of a better term) site that allows anyone with an internet connection or phone to tell the world his or her business in 140 characters or less, fated to end up like so many other good ideas gone bad? Could be, but that’s not really important, at least as it pertains to the Portland Trail Blazers. Right now, it’s the most useful disseminator of information in the world and for that reason, amongst others, it’s been adopted by many of the Trail Blazers.
Six Trail Blazers – Nicolas Batum, Marcus Camby, Dante Cunningham, Rudy Fernandez, Patty Mills and Elliot Williams – have twitter accounts that they use for one reason or another. Of those six, only Fernandez has been using his account regularly for more than a year. On the opposite end of the spectrum are Batum and Cunningham, who have started using Twitter only recently. And all of them seem to have different reasons for why they started “tweeting.”
"Just interacting with a lot of different people, a lot of fans out there,” said Camby, (Twitter handle MarcusCamby23
) of why he started tweeting. “Connecting with a lot of old friends I haven't had a chance to speak to in years. That's the way of the world right now. ”
A quick perusal of Camby’s Twitter timeline
backs up his story. Camby, who has made plenty of friends while playing for five teams through 15 years in the league, goes back and forth with former teammates, friends and fans on his Twitter account. Sometimes he’ll pose a question to his followers, other times he’ll offer encouragement for a local sports team or direct others to stories he finds interesting or inspirational. And it also keeps the vet, who is the father of two preteen girls, up to date on all the hip new trends that the kids are talking about these days.
“I'm just trying to stay young and youthful with all these young guys we have on our team,” said Camby. “It's fun.”
For Fernandez (Twitter handle Rudy5Fernandez
), who was the first Trail Blazer on Twitter and is far and away the most popular player on the team with over 184,000 followers, the ability to allow his fans back home in Spain to keep up on his exploits in Portland guided his decision to start using the site.
“I was one of the first guys for use Twitter,” said Fernandez. “For stay in contact with the Spanish people, the Spanish fans. I think it's great. It's great for the fans, stay with us, stay follow us. I think it's important for us.”
While Fernandez might have started using Twitter to converse with his fellow Spaniards, he has since used his account to reach out to reach out and repair relations with fans in Portland and beyond, often times tweeting the same in both Spanish and English.
Regardless of the language, both Camby and Fernandez had similar motivations to start tweeting, but there’s another reason a growing number of Trail Blazers have joined the “Twitterverse”: to get Patty Mills off their backs.
When it comes to Twitter, Patty is just as persistent in pestering his teammates to start using the site as he is in defending opposing guards, possibly more so. Mills (Twitter handle Patty_Mills
) is the most active tweeter on the team, but he’s not satisfied with his own enthusiasm. He wants to bring the rest of the team to the world of Twitter as well.
“Patty is a little crazy about the Twitter,” said Fernandez. “He use a lot of times the Twitter, but that's Patty. He's a funny guy. I think Nicolas have the Twitter because Patty every day tell him 'Hey, let's go to take a twitter.'”
Rudy is correct in his assumption.
"I started using Twitter because of Patty Mills,” said Batum. “We should call Patty the ... I don't know what we should call him, but he tries to get everybody on Twitter. He say 'You don't have Twitter? You get on Twitter.' I got Facebook, so I say ‘No (to tweeting)’, but he say 'Nic, you've got to get a twitter.' Two months I say 'No, no.' But then I say, 'Ok if I do it, you'll leave me alone?' He say yes, so I did it. That’s his fault.”
Mills has also pestered Dante Cunningham (Twitter handle DLamarC33
) into starting up an account and continues to work on Wesley Matthews, who currently says he’s considering joining up, mostly to placate the second year guard from Australia.
“I just keep bugging and pestering them about it and just telling them how good it is and how the fans out there in the community really appreciate a couple sentences here and there during the week,” said Mills, “That goes a long way. It's nothing big. You can be like me and tweet all the time or you can just drop a line here or there, but it goes a long way with the fans. And that's the main thing, to get the fans on our side because they're a big part of our push this season.”
Mills, unlike many celebrities or athletes who don’t grasp the social media element of Twitter, actually engages in conversation via Twitter with his followers. He’s started a Twitter-based trivia game call “Aussie Takes With Patty Cakes, to teach his followers about the intricacies and terminologies of his native land. And recently, he’s used his account to raise awareness of the massive flooding that has ravaged much of Australia.
Mills didn’t start using Twitter to be a spokesman for all things Aussie. That occurred by happenstance. Patty’s real reason for starting his account, and his insistence on getting his teammates to follow suit, came from a desire bring his team together, something every good point guard should do.
“I think (Twitter) kind of ties us together a bit more,” said Mills. “There were a number of things that I tried to do at the beginning of the year that would help the team become closer and I think Twitter is one of those things.”
“It's not big, but it's a small thing and the more people that get involved, the closer you get. Those things don't need to be a big thing because the small things can make a big difference. It's great to see the conversations we have on the bus about Twitter and what people say. It's good fun.”