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If social media really is where the young crowd hangs out, then one indicator shows that the NBA probably has a prosperous future ahead. That league’s franchises dominate the list of the most followed U.S. teams on Twitter by holding down nine of the top 15 places on the list.

NBA teams are reaching their fans on Twitter

Any team with LeBron James on its roster is going to be tracked closely by fans via any medium, whether it’s TV, websites, social media, or whatever else. Having a good team, a history of success on the court, and playing in a major media market can also help to explain why the Los Angeles Lakers
lead the list,

They’re no match for the 45.5 million users that James pulls in on his own Twitter account, but the Lakers’ 8.75 million followers make the team No. 1 in American pro sports.

The Golden State Warriors rank second with 6.48 million followers. Though they possessed the league’s worst record at 15-50 when the NBA announced it was suspending its season because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Warriors had been to the NBA finals the past five seasons, winning three titles. Golden State star Stephen Curry has 14.16 million followers.

Coming in at third and fifth, respectively, on Twitter are The Miami Heat (4.74 million) and Chicago Bulls (4.14 million)

The NBA’s monopoly of the top of the rankings is broken up only by the New England Patriots at No. 4. The six-time Super Bowl champions (with three titles since 2015) have 4.60 million users tracking their account.

If social media is youth-oriented, then MLB has a problem

The NBA’s appeal on Twitter goes much deeper than just the teams at the top. The world’s leading pro basketball league owns nine of the first 15 spots on the Twitter list.

Bolstered by the No. 6 Dallas Cowboys, No. 8 Philadelphia Eagles, and No. 10 Pittsburgh Steelers, the NFL places five of its teams in the first 15. In fact, pro football has more teams than the NBA in the top 50 by a 19- 14 margin.

For a sport that has existed for so long and dominated on the sports page and at the turnstiles for decades, Major League Baseball has to be at least moderately concerned at one more indicator that it lags the NBA and NFL in appeal. Only the New York Yankees (11th), Los Angeles Dodgers (17th), and Chicago Cubs (25th) – all from large markets — make the top 25.

MLB (nine teams in the top 50) and the NHL (five) bring up the rear among the four major North American team sports.

A few more observations about teams on Twitter

The big four sports leagues account for 47 franchises in the top 50. Two of the other three teams are soccer franchises, though not from the MLS. The U.S. Women’s National Team checks in at 18th and that squad’s male counterparts at 27th.

Completing the list of the first 50 teams is the Duke University men’s basketball team Twitter account at No. 23 with 2.24 million followers, edging out the San Francisco 49ers (2.19 million). By the way, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, who defeated the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV last month, have some work to do to off the field, placing 42nd in the Twitter rankings at 1.53 million users.

Among leagues and governing bodies, no one comes close to pro football on Twitter. The NFL league account has 25.18 million followers to 10.88 million for the WWE and 8.58 million for MLB.