On March 11th, one of the most reliable resources for entertainment came to an abrupt pause, leaving us with a mix of emotions: basketball. The COVID-19 outbreak nationwide caused the NBA season to be suspended for the safety of the NBPA union members (current active professional basketball players in the NBA), employees, and fans around the world.
Forced to leave fans desperate for outlets to feel connected to the players that they had once relied upon for engagement, an opportunity was presented for the players that they had already become comfortable with before the sports world turned upside-down: social media.
According to the NBA Repucom Study, 2016, the union members have a combined 683 million social media followers, which they have used this last month to connect and engage with fans around the world. The players' engagement has been no shortage of entertainment and creativity ranging from online drills, video Q&A’s, and so much more.
This section of the blog will highlight union members who are finding unique ways to stay busy off the court. From viral dances at their homes, to videos of basketball drills the players have been doing to stay ready for a return to play, the 450 union members have given their fans unique content to look forward to during the season’s hiatus.
Serge Ibaka has always been able to connect with fans through social media, whether it be from his show “How Hungry Are You?” or through his love of sharing his game-day outfits on Instagram. Since the postponement of the NBA season, Ibaka has been active on social media, not only for the purpose of engaging with his fans but to also show he is staying ready for the season to resume and for a deep playoff run.
Speaking of running, Ibaka posted a cardio workout he is doing in his house to stay in shape while social distancing. Ibaka is one of the most reliable big men in the league, and his ability to stretch the floor and defend the paint is in large part due to his ability to be in shape.
Serge Ibaka on Instagram: “Cardio day at home”
Not only has Ibaka been working on things beneficial for himself, but he is also doing his part regarding COVID-19 relief. Ibaka hosted an Instagram live show called “How Talented Are You?”, where he had fans submit videos of different talents they had, along with some celebrity guests joining the broadcast, including his former teammate DeMar DeRozan. Instead of showing off his singing capabilities, DeRozan decided to match the Serge Ibaka Foundation’s $20K donation to COVID-19 relief. This act of kindness from DeRozan and Ibaka shows the positive impact social media engagement from the players to the fans can have on the world during a time of uncertainty.
Serge Ibaka on Instagram Live with DeMar DeRozan
Some of you may know Trae Young during this hiatus best from the NBA 2K Players Tournament or through the NBA Horse Challenge, but Young has truly been thriving under the radar on social media through his unique way of connecting with his fans.
Young’s long-range shooting expertise on the court flourishes off the court too. Rocking his All-Star jersey from this season, Young showed his fans how he has been improving his picture-perfect jump shot without a regulation 10-foot hoop and a basketball: with a pair of socks and a trash can.
Trae Young on Instagram: Three-Point Sock Shootout
As you can see, Young recreated the three-point contest in his house, with socks replacing the basketballs and a trashcan taking the role of a basketball hoop. We’ve always known Young can shoot it with the best of them, but his 19/20 score in the sock shootout should worry his opponents for when Young can get back on the court.
Speaking of getting back on the court, Young also has the luxury of having a hoop outside of his house. While he has shown his ability to knockdown consistent sock-shots, Young decided to give his fans a taste of what he’s been working on with a tenacious-defender on him: that defender is his dog.
Through the social media platform TikTok, Young has provided his fans with endless content: from viral dance videos to his ball-handling expertise seen in the above video, the first time All-Star can do it all.
If you’re missing basketball as much as we are, make sure to stay locked in on what the union members are doing on social media! Don’t worry if you think you’re not seeing every player – the NBPA Grassroots Blog will keep you updated with what players are doing to stay engaged with YOU!