The National Basketball Association became the first major sports league in the world to top 5 million Twitter followers on Monday morning.
And no other league is even close.
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The next most popular sports organization, the NFL, clocks in around 3.3 million followers. Major League Baseball has just over 2 million, while the National Hockey League and World Wrestling Entertainment have about 1.1 million each. World soccer's governing body, FIFA, has almost 800,000 followers.
“We are committed to delivering great content to our fans 24/7," Melissa Rosenthal Brenner, the NBA’s vice president of marketing, told Mashable earlier this year. "More and more we’re using social media as the lens for that, so to speak.”
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The NBA has long been at the forefront of using social media in the sports business world. Fans used Twitter to vote for this year's Slam Dunk Contest winner, and in March the league began selling t-shirts featuring star players' Twitter handles. Last month, it marked the beginning of playoff season by official launching Pinterest and Tumblr pages.
More than 350 current and former NBA players are on Twitter. Counting official league, team and player profiles, the league claims more than 260 million combined Facebook likes and Twitter follows.
While the NBA dominates as a league, soccer stars dominate Twitter's sports section when it comes to individual accounts. Brazilian midfielder Kaka is the world's most followed athlete, with more than 10 million followers.
His Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo is also approaching the 10 million mark. LeBron James is the NBA's most popular active player, with nearly 4.5 million followers, while the retired Shaquille O'Neal counts more than 5.5 million.
The NBA's Twitter success and popularity of global soccer stars are just a couple reflections of the social network's natural synergy with sports. Sports moments dominate Twitter's list of most-tweets-per-second records, and the company is looking to hire a sports fan in an editorial role now. Twitter's bird logo is even named after an NBA legend.
But athletics still have a long way to go to challenge pop music for Twitter dominance -- Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry are the network's three most popular users, with more than 65 million combined followers.
Why do you think Twitter and sports seem to go so well together? Let us know in the comments.
BONUS: 15 Hilarious Sports Parody Twitter Accounts
NBA legend and hardcore Grateful Dead fan, Bill Walton is known for his sometimes curious verbiage and his philosophical take on the game of basketball. This account takes full advantage.
This story originally published on Mashable here.
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