NBA issues a memo to teams reminding them to avoid ‘Twitter wars’

The person behind the Twitter controls for the Portland Trail Blazers inadvertently started a social media back-and-forth between two NBA players recently, by mocking Chandler Parsons of the Grizzlies with this fairly innocuous post.

Parsons fired back with “good luck in the lottery show this year,” a reference to Portland’s place outside the playoff picture in the West. C.J. McCollum then chimed in with, “We hit the lottery by not signing you,” after Parsons was a free agent last summer.

It ended with Parsons saying “It’s all in good fun! No hard feelings,” but the Blazers issued a statement about the exchange nonetheless, which essentially stated that the tweet that started it all came too close to crossing the line.

The NBA agrees and now has issued a memo of its own to all 30 teams reminding them not to engage in behavior that could ignite any type of public battle on a social media platform:

“While we understand that the use of social media by teams, including during games, is an important part of our business, the inappropriate use of social media can damage the reputation of the NBA, its teams and its players,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum wrote in the memo obtained by ESPN. “Recently, social media postings (e.g., on Twitter) by some teams have crossed the line between appropriate and inappropriate. In addition to other concerns, such conduct by teams can result in ‘Twitter wars’ between players that can cause further reputational damage and subject players to discipline by the League.

“As a result, we want teams to be aware of the NBA’s rules with respect to the use of social media by teams. As with in-game entertainment, teams are prohibited from mocking and/or ridiculing opponents (including teams, players, team personnel (including owners) and opponents’ home cities) and game officials on social media in any form, including through statements, pictures or videos.”

The NBA does an exceptional job of engaging its fans by having fun with social media, at least for the most part. Let’s hope the teams don’t lose some of that be being overly cautious.