How to Judge NBA Team Chemistry Via Instagram

ONE37pm walks you through the many categories of teammate social interaction

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As the majority of human interaction has shifted to taking place on the internet, and with the guarantee of a self-esteem bump that comes with every post, social media has become a haven for NBA players to flaunt their blue checkmarks and private-jet lifestyles.

But we common folk reap the benefits. This cultural change presents a litter of Easter eggs dropped every night by the league’s players—a trail of clues that can lead to an uncovering of players’ futures, their personal lives or even the firing of a general manager. And because the players know we’re looking, the context of their tweets after a loss, their interactions in the comments of their teammate’s IG post or their decision to like or not like (that is the question) their teammate’s fit pic become that much more curious.

Like a lot of information around the NBA, a team’s chemistry used to be private. Beat reporters with locker-room access would have a better idea than most, but the rest of us just had to look at reactions of the bench, study the frequency of high-fives and analyze the occasional postgame interview that wasn’t just filled with athlete clichés.

But now there’s a glass door in between the fans and the players. And as we enter a generation of the NBA in which all players are fully acquainted with social media, the Ted Cruz excuse doesn’t really fly—everything they do is intentional. And by nature of the permanence of the internet, we now have a surge of evidence to look at in comparison to years prior.

The same way your ex-significant other can stalk your interactions, we can evaluate the chemistry of NBA teams. So here’s a proprietary rubric ONE37pm has developed in order to best categorize your favorite players’ social media interactions.

Signs of Healthy Team Chemistry

Pictures of Each Other Doing Sober Activities

Bowling, breakfast with plates full of lean meats and veggies, friendly games of 2K and any other activities suitable for an 8-year-old’s birthday (or Chris Paul’s free Saturday) are strong indicators of healthy team chemistry. Volunteering is cool too. It’s powerful to know these guys choose to hang out with each other even when they don’t have to. But know this: Chris Paul, the king of sober hanging, is also widely criticized for having rocky relationships with his teammates ( his teammates). Know whose teammates have always loved him? JR Smith’s.

Team Pics in the Victory PJ

This is the holy grail right here. The whole squad juiced with post-win vibes, feeling the need to share the energy with the rest of the world. They could post anything, but they choose to post their teammates. It’s beautiful.

Commenting On Each Other’s Fit Pics

Fit pics are hot right now. So hot that they have the potential to cause tension among teammates. Whose kicks are one of one? Who got the early release from a prized designer? And God forbid someone gets accused of copying a teammate’s swag! That’s why seeing teammates support each other when they’re vulnerable is so important.

Teammate Roasting

Those experienced in stalking professional basketball players may dig deeper than just surface level and uncover the true gem of team chemistry indication: friendly banter in the comments. If these squad pics are legit and not just a Band-Aid covering wounded relationships, the comments should be littered with inside jokes. The Lakers’ young core, for example, are nonstop. Clowning each other’s outfits is not off-limits, nor is insulting the teeth of a teammate’s brother. Where some may see sparks fly, I see team building.

Signs of Bad Team Chemistry

Celebratory Clique Pics

The enemy of the “Victory PJ” pic. Yes, winning is beneficial to the overall team chemistry, but it’s truly revealing when players would rather share the moment with all of their teammates rather than just a select few. When a player handpicks only a few teammates to post publicly, it can be the tip of the iceberg of a fractured roster. The consummate new age teammate knows to keep the clique pics to the IG Story, where they will only live for 24 hours, and maintain a wholesome and populist image in his IG grid.

Flirting with Other Teams & Players

This is obvious, but it’s never a good look when players begin to behave on social media in the same manner as a spurned ex. Favoriting tweets about their own trade rumors, following other teams just so fans notice, commenting with the eyes emoji underneath players on teams who have been linked to them and/or tweeting out pictures of their new relationship with a more attractive partner who makes more money…

It’s all bad.

The Post-Loss/ Losing Streak Subtweet

For how contentious the debate between LeBron James and Michael Jordan is on the court, the subtweet-GOAT contest is undisputed. LeBron’s most famous “fit-in” sub may have legitimately changed the way players’ social media was covered by the media when the reaction proved that NBA fans were just as interested in the internet antics as the highlights on the court. It’s not just the sentiment of the tweet that can be damaging; the fact that the internal relationships aren’t strong enough for these issues to be hashed out face-to-face is even worse.

Posting a Picture of Yourself Moving into 5th All-Time in NBA Scoring the Same Night Your Team Got 40-Pieced and Also You Are Literally Trying To Trade Your Entire Roster

I went to a liberal arts school, so I’m not a math and science guy by any means. But pretty sure this is bad, not good. Would not be thrilled to be Lonzo, Kuzma, Ingram—or any Laker, for that matter—and see my supposed leader post a picture about his personal milestone on the same night the Indiana Pacers bodied the squad.

Major Gray Areas

Pictures of Teammates, Not Sober Edition

This is complicated.

On one hand, it’s proven that not-sober activities are detrimental to the physical and mental well-being of the athletes and can be an indication that players are not fully committed to championship-level preparation. On the other hand, there are few better bonding experiences than hitting the club until 4 a.m. under the influence of some social lubricants. Heck, it’s 2019—a red-eyed, giggly IG Story featuring your team’s starting backcourt could be flipped into a positive too.

In addition to building relationships, it’s a great indicator of chemistry. You’re really only willing to go out with people you actually like spending time with. For example, you think you have a great working relationship with the guy who sits next to you, but then he asks you to get a beer and you reevaluate that. Hanging out outside of work is a true indicator that you actually like someone—more than just a coworker.

Posting Pictures of Only Yourself Playing

A players’ feed littered with pictures of him playing in his team’s uniform is telling of the importance of playing for that franchise holds for the player. But if the ratio of solo playing shots to shots of him playing next to teammates skews too much to the former, it may be a sign that the focus is too much on himself.

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