Home-court advantage in the NBA is not as strong as it used to be, and many people in the know – players, coaches, GMs – believe social media has a lot to do with it.
In the 1980s, home teams won about 65 percent of games, reaching an all-time high 67.9 percent in the 1987-88 season. While there were some blips along the way, the home win percentage dropped to about 60 percent for most of the 2000s, and this season, it’s at an all-time low 57.4 percent.
There has to be an explanation – this is too clear a trend to be called a coincidence.
According to an ESPN report, people around the league think that players are sleeping more and drinking less while on road trips.
Call it the “Tinderization of the NBA,” an anonymous GM said.
“Tin-der-i-za-tion,” the GM emphasized. “Like the dating app. No need to go to the clubs all night anymore.”
One former All-Star clarified that Instagram, not Tinder, is players’ preferred hook-up tool, but agreed conceptually with the GM.
“It’s absolutely true that you get at least two hours more sleep getting laid on the road today versus 15 years ago,” he said. “No schmoozing. No going out to the club. No having to get something to eat after the club but before the hotel.”
In addition to making it easier to hook up and thus get more sleep, social media is also making players more careful about not getting into trouble. If they’re out, they’re going to end up on someone’s Twitter, Snapchat or Facebook.
Back in 1993, Michael Jordan was allegedly seen gambling in Atlantic City the night before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Knicks. He denied it, something he probably wouldn’t be able to do today. In 1997, Charles Barkley was arrested for throwing a dude through a window, a situation he may have avoided he known every passerby was equipped with smartphones with cameras.
“(Players are) not going out to clubs anymore, acting like imbeciles,” a current coach told ESPN. “They get crushed in the media when pictures come out, then they get clowned on for 24 hours.”
James Harden of the Rockets is the odds-on favorite to win the MVP award this season. He was dating Khloe Kardashian last year and had what he called the worst season of his career. He’s no longer dating Khloe, and what do you know, he’s showing up on TMZ a lot less.
George Karl, the fifth winningest coach in NBA history, added that players are drinking a lot less than they used to.
“In general, players have become very serious about their profession,” Karl said. “Players today have a more dedicated attitude about ‘This is big money.’ They’re very aware of having a plan, a plan of development, a plan of commitment, a plan of growing.”
Seems that Tinder, Instagram, whatever is helping these guys stick to that plan.