Social Media Predicts NBA Stars' Placement

The free-agency period is arguably the most tumultuous time of the season for players and fans alike. Each summer a flurry of news stories, rumors, and predictions swirl around who will be a free agent in the NBA and where those talented free agents will end up for the coming season. It is, therefore, very important for the NBA teams themselves and the public relations (PR) agencies representing those free agents to understand who is talking about their players as well as the most popular topics and sentiment of conversation on social media. Through Crimson Hexagon’s ForSight™ platform, NBA teams and agencies alike can unravel social conversations and discover valuable consumer insights. Armed with this knowledge, PR professionals can polish their branding and messaging, especially during heated moments such as the free-agent scramble.
LeBron James, arguably one of the best and most controversial players in the NBA, opted out of his contract with the Miami Heat two years early and became a free agent on June 24th, 2014. Before his announcement, he had a slightly positive net sentiment (+3%).
Social media prediction LeBron James NBA
Carmelo Anthony, another talented NBA player, also became a free agent on June 22nd, opting out of his contract with the New York Knicks. Carmelo, though, is much less controversial than LeBron; over 80% of the conversation surrounding him since his announcement is neutral.
Social media prediction Carmelo Anthony NBA
Using Crimson Hexagon’s Affinities™ tool , we were able to accurately predict where both LeBron and Carmelo would likely end up. Affinities quantifies the interests of Twitter authors in a social media conversation. These interests and passions range from sports and lifestyle topics to brands and professional interests. The Affinities visualization indicates how many people in the conversation have that interest (size of the bubble) and strength of its association with a given topic (location of the bubble left to right). Our Affinities analysis, shows that LeBron has a strong resonance with people who have an interest in the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Miami Heat, and Carmelo has a similar relationship to the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, or Houston Rockets.
NBA social media affinities LeBron and Melo
Both LeBron and Carmelo ultimately decided to ‘come home’ in more than one sense of the word, exciting fans and resulting, whether purposefully or not, in a very successful PR move.
Social media NBA predictions Topic Wheel
The decision to ‘come home’ was especially successful for LeBron James. On July 11th, through an autobiographical article in Sports Illustrated, he announced that he was ‘coming home’ to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Afterwards, his net sentiment tripled to +9%. Although LeBron is usually seen as a hot-headed player, his return to Cleveland generated positive sentiment from fans and other sports players, giving LeBron a much-desired chance to start over.
Volume of social media posts on NBA predictions

For more insight into how social knowledge, including sentiment and popular topics of discussion, about your client can result in a PR win, download our case study: Lebron and Melo: Coming Home.

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