The NBA will have its first ever Facebook Town Hall tonight, December 22, at 8 PM EST, when New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire, Oklahoma City Thunder guard and NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant, and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry take live questions from Facebook and Twitter audiences that use the hashtag #NBATownHall. While Facebook Town Halls have attracted prominent guests like Barack Obama, this is the first one sponsored by a major professional sports league.
When the NBA labor dispute that threatened to cancel this entire season ended a month ago, the NBA needed to reshape its public image to lure back its casual fans that it had lost with the ugly headlines the labor issues brought. The NBA will present three of its most charismatic stars for this town hall. All three are very articulate and well-spoken. Stoudemire plays in New York, on a Knicks team that has aspirations of being a title contender for the first time in a decade; Durant leads a young and rising Thunder team with a wealth of talent that could make a big leap this year; Curry is a three-point bomber from long-distance that comes from a line of NBA stars (Dell Curry, an ex-Charlotte Hornet, is his father).
But while these three players may make for an amusing town hall, the NBA shied away from any real groundbreaking with these choices. Ever since Lebron James decided to “take his talents to South Beach” and leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat, superstar contracts and player movement have been the main talking points for the NBA. Stoudemire, Durant, and Curry all have long-term contracts and won’t be going anywhere for a long time. There are many aspects of the NBA that are worth asking pressing questions about, but none of these three guys hold any of the answers. With so many fascinating and controversial personalities in the NBA, the league should have picked three more buzzworthy players for this town hall. Here’s a suggestion of five:
1. Chris Paul: What’s the last three weeks been like for him? The star point guard was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers from the New Orleans Hornets, but the NBA vetoed the trade, making him uncomfortably stay in New Orleans. He was then traded to the Los Angeles Clippers a week later, changing the power balance of the entire Western Conference. What’s it been like for him to have his future so unclear? Will he sign a contract extension with the Clippers?
2. Derek Fisher: The Lakers point guard was the head of the NBA Player’s Association during the lockout. Does he feel like he handled everything correctly during the lockout? What made him decide that it was time to compromise with the owners? What was it like to have to be the voice for over 300 players at the bargaining table with people like Commissioner David Stern, who have had more than 30 years more experience with similar negotiations?
3. Kris Humphries: The New Jersey Nets forward became a tabloid staple with his courtship, marriage and divorce of Kim Kardashian in the past year. What’s it like returning to the NBA locker room after such a weird year? How has the dynamics with his teammates changed? Is it awkward for him to have such notoriety around the league from casual fans that would normally ignore his pedestrian career?
4 and 5. Deron Williams and Dwight Howard: Will they both sign contract extensions with their current teams, the Nets and Orlando Magic, respectively? If not, why haven’t they been more clear with their owners about this, so that they’ll know to trade them and try to get some value for their talents? Why are they both acting so wishy-washy about their demands and not being forthright with their fans?
This is only five guys. There are other more captivating personalities than Stoudemire, Durant, and Curry. The fact that the NBA is taking to social media to ask stars questions is a good thing. Interaction is always nice. But to truly strike a chord, they’ll have to start asking the big questions to the stars that people want answers from.