The rise of basketball influencers on social media


Photo credits: Atlanta Gold Star

Social media has had a huge impact on sports, especially basketball. When it comes to Instagram followers, b-ball players lead the way among professional athletes. At 45.8 million, Lebron James has the highest follower count at 45.8 million; other prominent basketball players have well over 10 million followers. Since social media allows fans to see the lives of players in a whole new way, the ballers have even more influence on society and, in some cases, public policy.

Aside from follower counts, social media platforms (namely, Instagram), give lesser-known players – like high school and college athletes – more exposure. Recently, the rise of Zion Williamson, the freshman forward for the Duke Blue Devils, has accumulated a large following before he had played even a minute for Duke. He has 2.1 million followers as a 18-year-old playing in Spartanburg, South Carolina, went viral for his dunking and unnatural athleticism for someone his size (6’9”). High school recruits are getting seen by more people than ever with highlight videos being posted for nearly every player in major college basketball.

Basketball players also have a unique opportunity to weigh in on social issues that are occuring in the country. For example, when the Golden State Warriors declined to visit the White House after winning the NBA championship, the responses from players went viral. Stephen Curry, the star guard for the Warriors, criticized the President. LeBron James backed his fellow players by also calling out President Trump in a tweet that Americans talked about for days. Many prominent players have recently called for the end of police violence towards African American citizens. With the large following that some basketball players have, they can have a huge impact on the opinions of some Americans.