Twizards Mostly Okay With New NBA Rule
RICHMOND -- A few hours before practice on Thursday, Mike James sent a message to his fans via Twitter in which he said, among other things, "mystrenghtisfromGOD."
James is one of four members of the Washington Wizards on the social networking site, Twitter, and has provided a few updates since the team convened in Richmond, including a Tweet after the first practice that read, "The dogs r barking. I need a massage and pedicure."
And he has no problems with the NBA's new policy regarding social media sites released this week. The league prohibited coaches and other basketball operations personnel from using cell phones and other electronic communication devices during games. It sent a memo to teams that disallows using such sites as Twitter and Facebook, beginning 45 minutes before the opening tip and ending after the locker room is open to reporters. Halftime is also off-limits.
"It doesn't affect me," said James, who has 2,673 followers and uses the screen name mikejames7. "I Twitter at home. I don't Twitter at practice. I don't Twitter during halftime. I'm not Twittering on the bus. This is our profession and the NBA is basically saying, 'Let's keep it professional.' "
Twitter is very popular among many NBA players, including Cleveland Cavaliers center Shaquille O'Neal, who has more than 2.3 million followers. The NBA itself even has 1.4 million followers on Twitter.
But the new policy is largely in response to Detroit Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva, who last season as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks caused a commotion when he Tweeted from his cellphone during halftime of a win against the Boston Celtics last March. Villanueva claimed that the guidelines were the "Villanueva Rule" on his personal account this week.
Fabricio Oberto (Obricio7) is the Wizards' most prolific Tweeter, with 1,858 tweets, but he said that he has been less frequent since training camp began. "I'm a little tired, so I don't Tweet so much," said Oberto, who agrees with the new rules. "You got to respect the team that you're playing."
Randy Foye (randyfoye), who has the most followers on the team with 8,783, said he uses Twitter mostly as a means to promote his foundation for underprivileged children in his hometown of Newark, N.J. He also fully supports the new rule.
"You shouldn't use it if you're getting ready for a game," Foye said. "You should be completely focused on getting ready to go out there and play the game."
JaVale McGee is the Wizards' youngest and most tech-savvy player. When asked about the new iPod Touches that Coach Flip Saunders gave the players before training camp, McGee joked that he now owns four iPods. He took issue with prohibiting the use of cellphones before the game.
"I don't think that's a good idea -- 45 minutes before the game," said McGee, who had made 1,460 Tweets using the screen name, bigdaddywookie. "I respect during. You shouldn't be Twittering during the game. But you should be able to Twitter before and after."
James said anyone who has a problem with the league's new policy should just make the adjustment. "Just go home and Twitter," he said. "Everything that you can say at halftime, just hold it in your mind. Maybe write it down on a piece of paper or something. It's still the same thing. You don't Twit two hours earlier, you just Twit two hours later. It's not a problem. Don't worry, you'll still have your fans there. They are still going to open it up and read it later. Just don't get yourself in trouble."
McGee admitted he hasn't fully studied the new guidelines, but added, "I got to read that thing. I might get fined."
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