With over 175 million users and 54 million in the U.S alone, Twitter is one of the most frequent social networking sites used by NBA players today.

Ballers such as, Nate Robinson, LeBron James, rookie John Wall and veteran Shaquille O’Neal all use Twitter to give their own take of events that happen around them. Or, just to copy and paste what other people are typing – or as it’s called – “re-tweeting.”

Since Twitter launched in 2006, it has given fans from across the globe a glimpse into what occurs in the day-to-day life of an NBA player, in 140 characters or less. For the fans, it gives you a more intimate look into the life of an NBA player than a Facebook fan page.

Twitter updates are also a source for the media to use as valuable information. Most basketball journalists follow the NBA players and the second a player posts a juicy update or “tweet” as it’s known, it becomes worldwide news.

Like most social networking sites, Twitter gives you the freedom to type anything you want, whenever you want. At times though, the wrong thing can be said, which blows everything out the window.

Not that I’m bothered when a sports figure types something controversial, but when you’re constantly involved in the spotlight, it becomes a different matter all together. Even the slightest dig or name-calling can trigger a response.

One example of which came in January of this year, involving Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks and Jordan Farmar of the Los Angeles Lakers – following the Lakers, 95-77 success over the Bucks on a cold Sunday night in January – Jennings was on his Twitter account talking to a friend saying: “hit my phone I’ll tell you the real on that Farmar thing.”

It seemed that Farmar had taken offence to this comment, but it was later revealed that it was someone pretending to be the Los Angeles Lakers player, the imposter replied: “What you gonna say Buck (Jennings’ nickname)? Heard there is some ish talking on here…” The conversation took a turn for the worse.

Jennings (YUNGBUCK3) tweeted: “nah i was just telling the homie how thirsty you are. That’s all. But I’m not going to make this a big thing.”

Fake Farmar (JFarmar1) tweeted: “Am not here to start nothing. You were talking smack on here wanted to clear some air. Look at the bling, done proved myself”

Fake Farmar: “You started with the smack talking, and I ended it with the 2 threes. We even? Cool.”

Jennings: “but I’m not going to beef with you. See you should be worried about your spot. Shannon Brown??? That’s all imma say.”

Jennings was referring to the Bucks-Lakers where Farmar’s team-mate, Shannon Brown scored 19 points on 8 of 12 shooting. Farmar posted 17 points in 22 minutes on 5 of 8 shooting. Jennings connected on just 4 of 17 field goals for 10 points.

The imposter’s Twitter account was later suspended following this back-and-forth conversation, and Jennings tweeted afterwards: “Nevermind that’s not Farmar. (check the bling) if that’s really you. I’m cool. That’s being thirsty.”

The Milwaukee Bucks guard, Jennings was also fined $7,500 by the NBA once for using his Twitter whilst in the locker-room after a Bucks away fixture.

Another example came in mid-July, when the Miami Heat’s LeBron James joined the Twitter revolution, and in four short months, has amassed over a million followers. Lebron’s page has come under scrutiny as well – with James re-tweeting all of his hate messages, once he joined the Heat from the Cleveland Cavaliers in the off-season.

“You’re always going to have people who love you and who hate you,” James said, commenting on the aforementioned hate Tweets. “I have enough motivation but I can always use a little more.”

LeBron announced his move from Cleveland to Miami on national television, by saying: “in this fall I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.” A move that was widely criticized, despite pulling down massive TV ratings, James’ move caused a massive stir.

After Miami suffered a home loss to the Boston Celtics earlier in the month (November), Paul Pierce poked fun at LeBron’s television statement by Tweeting: “It’s been a pleasure to bring my talents to south beach now on to Memphis.” Which brought a ton of media interest; Celtics head coach, Doc Rivers was reported to of been disappointed by Pierce’s actions. Pierce, himself denies typing those comments, claiming his Twitter account was ‘hacked.’

So now it has become apparent that NBA players have to take extra care and think about what they say next. Because something so small can lead to negative exposure the next day.

John Hobbs for TalkBasket.net