The NBA Cares program has not highlighted players since the lockout started. But several players should be commended for demonstrating leadership in social responsibility by promoting awareness of Troy Davis, a Georgia prisoner executed at 11:08 PM on Wednesday, September 21, 2011; despite protests from around the world that there was too much doubt about his conviction.
The execution of Troy Davis was a big topic at the Miami Heat Index. The issues surrounding Davis won’t be re-hashed here (click the links for more info), but an interesting aspect of the Davis case was that his supporters and the movement against capital punishment did an incredible job promoting awareness of the issues on Twitter.
According to writer dream hampton, a long-time advocate for Davis, said Twitter allowed activists to reach many more people in 2011 than they ever had in the previous 22 years of fighting for his life. Ytasha Womack, author of Post Black: How a New Generation is Redefining African American Identity, said creating awareness about civil liberty issues through social networks like Twitter has become a core strategy in the 21st century and cited uprisings against dictatorships in the Middle East as a recent example of their power.
The articles at the Miami Heat Index focused on why Mario Chalmers was the only Miami Heat player on Twitter that promoted any type of awareness on Troy Davis, but he was not the only NBA player to speak out. Roughly two dozen other NBA players from the Hoopism.com Social Media Leaderboard also promoted awareness of the Troy Davis case.
It should be a no-brainer for NBA players to promote awareness of capital punishment since 80 percent of the players are black and the Death Penalty Information Center reported in 1998 that “Race is more likely to affect death sentencing than smoking affects the likelihood of dying from heart disease.” Posting a message on Twitter or Facebook is so simple that there’s a low barrier-to-entry for NBA players to get involved in this cause.
Why only one all-star and just 10 percent of the players from the Social Media Leaderboard tweeted about the case was discussed on the Miami HEATcast and won’t be re-hashed here. Since the NBA Cares program doesn’t care about the players right now, I’d like to use this space to shine some light on those players that cared enough about Troy Davis to promote his case to their followers.
The most active tweeter about Troy Davis in the NBA was Donte Greene, forward for the Sacramento Kings. He tweeted about Troy Davis eight times leading up to, and shortly after, his execution. Anthony Morrow, guard for the New Jersey Nets, discussed the issue with seven tweets sent to his 40,891 followers.
Eleven of the 26 players that tweeted about Troy Davis sent multiple tweets like Greene and Morrow: Julian Wright, Terrence Williams, Jeff Green, Mario Chalmers, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, Greg Monroe, Da’Sean Butler and Anthony Tolliver.
The 15 other players that tweeted about Davis included all-star forward Kevin Durant and former all-star point guard Steve Nash. They were joined by CJ Watson, James Harden, Vince Carter, DeMar DeRozan, Jared Dudley, DeAndre Jordan, TJ Ford, DeJuan Blair, Marquis Daniels, Channing Frye, Jarrett Jack, Trevor Booker and Samardo Samuels.
The 26 players that tweeted about Troy Davis were from 16 different teams and three were free agents. The Suns, Thunder and Spurs were the only teams that featured multiple Troy Davis tweeters. Five players for the Suns sent six tweets about the issue, but the two Thunder players (Harden and Durant) have almost 200,000 more followers than Hill, Nash, Carter, Dudley and Frye.
This document lists all the tweets sent by NBA players from Hoopism’s Social Media Leaderboard and this spreadsheet breaks down the numbers behind those tweets. Hopefully, those numbers will increase as more players comment on human rights issues in the future.