NBA goes on social media offense for Celtics-Lakers finals match-up

Facebook, Twitter, SayNow, Gowalla and Foursquare in starting lineup

The NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and LA Lakers tips off tonight, but the league has already gotten things rolling on the social media front.

The NBA Store now has a spot on Facebook where fans can buy merchandise from their favorite teams, including items celebrating The Finals.

The NBA, which is closing in on 2 million Twitter followers (not to mention those following individual players accounts, such as that of Boston's Ray Allen) is hosting Tweetups in LA and Boston on game days featuring NBA legends.

The NBA will also tap into location-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla. When fans check in from the Forum or Garden on game days they'll be eligible for special badges or stamps.

Another service, SayNow, enables fans to interact with players via voice messages.

The NBA boasts of being the most social media savvy of the big sports leagues, and it's also pretty technologically innovative around the court.

I visited the Boston Garden in 2008 the last time these teams met in The Finals and was treated to quite a display of stats-keeping, multimedia and other technology, including Lenovo laptops running Windows XP.

While the Lakers and Celts have both changed some since 2008 (a much better Rajon Rondo, no more James Posey, the re-emergence of Ron Artest...), it will be interesting to see how the technology has changed as well. Windows 7 instead of XP? More handhelds and even Apple iPads or other tablets? (Wi-Fi was pretty much not used last time around, due to security and other concerns).

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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