Good cop, bad cop with NBA policy

Updated: October 1, 2009, 12:08 AM ET
By Ryan Corazza | Special to ESPN.com

Another league's season about to start, another Twitter policy about to be enacted.

[+] EnlargeJay Triano
Ron Turenne/NBAE/Getty ImagesDon't shoot the instant messager: Raptors coach Jay Triano has put the clamps on players' use of smartphones.

Just as the NFL did shortly before its season started, the NBA is set to announce a Twitter policy this week, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. Though the official wording has yet to drop, its main tenet is expected to be "no tweeting during games," and Stein's source said the policy would be "very minimal" and will be "less stringent" than the NFL's. If you've forgotten, the NFL decreed not only did players and team personnel have to stay off the service during games, but also 90 minutes before, and until all their media engagements were done after.

If the NFL is your strict parent, the NBA is more your cool mom. And it fits with the league's overall philosophy online. Where the NFL, and especially MLB, have been a bit slower to adapt to Twitter, the NBA has ruled the roost on the service: it was the first league to reach 1 million followers, and it has heavy hitters such as Shaquille O'Neal, who now boasts more than 2.3 million followers on the service.

But even though the NBA's policy is less restrictive than the NFL's, there's a caveat: Teams will be allowed to enforce stricter rules than what the league's policy dictates. In that sense, some guys might be tweeting less when the season gets into full swing, depending on what coaching staffs and front-office personnel decide. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told Stein he wouldn't really impose any more restrictions, but at least one team, the Miami Heat, has banned tweeting from the arena, home and away. This includes practice and shootaround. They're taking the NFL's stance: Focus on your job when you're at your job, worry about social media on your own time. Raptors coach Jay Triano has also banned smartphone use during his team's practices.

As for Charlie Villanueva, the league's prodigal Twitter son after his halftime tweet was, in part, the reason for the NBA's levying no tweeting during games? At Pistons media day Monday, he called the league's new policy the "Villanueva rule."

For his sake, let's hope the Pistons brass don't go the route of the Heat and Raptors.

Oops, did I just tweet that?

[+] EnlargeMarlon Williams
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesMarlon Williams tweeted what millions before have thought to themselves about meetings.
Last week, I touched on a number of NFL players being loose-lipped on Twitter, and identified why athletes continued to act in such a way when they otherwise wouldn't in front of a microphone. There was no shortage of similar incidents this weekend, from New York Jets coach Rex Ryan benching David Clowney for comments he made about his playing time after their Week 2 victory over the New England Patriots to Texas Tech linebacker Marlon Williams tweeting this on Sunday: "Wondering why I'm still in this meeting room when the head coach can't even be on time to his own meeting," and his teammate, offensive lineman Brandon Carter, tweeting this after Tech's loss to Houston on Saturday: "This is not how I saw our season."

Mike Leach's response to his players' tweets? An outright ban for his whole team. No tweeting anytime, anywhere. It's a bold move, but it's also one a college coach can make. Unlike an NBA or NFL player who is looking to grow and enhance his brand, or who is eyeing outside monetary options or personal interests away from the team, college players don't have that flexibility with which to argue back at a coach, given their amateur status.

Can you imagine if a player on the Cleveland Cavaliers spoke out of turn on Twitter, and O'Neal was told to shut down his account and possibly lose endorsement money?

Further: Professional athletes are adults (for the most part) and are treated as such. Their own time is their own time. College students are still just kids, so coaches are allowed to be a bit more strict with the off-the-field rules they put in place.

And however silly it may seem, this applies to Twitter as well.

Ryan Corazza is a freelance writer and Web designer based in Chicago.

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