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On team and Twitter: How one of the Miami Heat's biggest offseason improvements has been in social media

Editor's note: This post was in the works before the Michael Beasley/Twitter scandal. His episode, however, will prove my point exactly. When I started this blog, I decided to look into Miami Heat-related Twitter accounts. My search led me to this post, entitled Miami Heat shoots an Airball on Twitter. The author, Bill Hanifin, was indignant about the lack of response from the Twitter.com/MHeat account during a game last year. When he tried to reach the Heat's single Twitter account (http://www.Twitter.com/MHeat), he received no response after days and days. Meanwhile, players in the league like Shaquille O'Neal had properly displayed what a team should do with their Social Media capabilities; have a little freaking fun while you're sharing your message. His relaxed attitude and high profile has made him one of the largest social media forces in the world. All because he feels like tweeting some fun images and thoughts every now and then (assuming he didn't steal them from Steve Nash). The most amazing transformation over this summer is how exactly Miami has changes their social media strategy, specifically related to Twitter. They've gone from that one account to no fewer than seven accounts, including one for the Team Store (which offers some sweet deals) and one for the dance team. So this team, which was once cited as a poor example, has completely branched out. The players, on the other hand, are starting to feel the backlash of being on the cutting edge. Stephon Marbury is perhaps the best example of this. He uses his Twitter account to promote his Ustream channel. Some of the antics aired is an in-depth discussion of people and entities related to the NBA which are trying to put him "in a box," an old-time throat remedy which entails consuming petroleum jelly and an explanation of his current use of marijuana. All of these things are surely causing general managers to knock his door down on a daily basis. The social-media scandal has now apparently touched one of our own. Entering his sophomore year, Michael Beasley appeared to be poised to take a big step forward from his rookie year, which was successful but marred early by a run-in at the rookie camp which involved Mario Chalmers and marijuana. However, after a TwitPic was posted to his Twitter account, some are speculating he may be hitting the Mary Jane again. Take a look at this zoom-in from SportsByBrooks": Super Cool Beas Michael Beasley tattoo In case you're not familiar with how the sticky-icky is transported, it is sometimes sold in small, sandwich-style plastic bags. Exactly like the one with a dark substance inside on Beasley's vanity there. It's obviously speculation, but based on his reaction (closing the account in weeks), there might be some fire near that odd-smelling smoke. So what's to come? Millions of fans have loved the increased access to their favorite teams. It has flattened the sports world and endangered the concept of sports journalism as we know it (which isn't necessarily a bad thing, don't get me wrong). Allow me to offer this prediction: this won't last forever. I don't think the future is less social media. The team hailed as Twitter pros by Hanifin, the Miami Dolphins, have since banned all blogging, Facebooking, texting and Tweeting from practice facilities by players, coaches, media AND FANS! Not exactly welcoming, and something which I think the Dolphins will change in the weeks to come. No, I think the future is exactly what we've seen from the Heat organization. The team itself will widen its social media grasp even more. More specialized accounts, more people answering questions and more convenient answers (and typically more things to sell). The players on the other hand will recoil. See, teams can control their message, keep things under wraps and are well-prepared to fend off scandalous communication. Players will either learn how to do this (providing the blandest of tweets) or suffer the consequences and follow the former in due time. All this means more generic communication controlled by men in suits. It can sometimes be helpful, but the Wild Wild West attitude of sports Twitterers is likely coming to an end sooner rather than later. MIAMI HEAT-RELATED TWITTER ACCOUNTS: Team-related: Miami Heat - http://twitter.com/MHEAT Miami Heat_Speak - http://twitter.com/HEAT_Speak Miami Heat Dancers - http://twitter.com/miamiheatdancer Miami Heat_Randomish - http://twitter.com/HEAT_Randomish Miami Heat_Girlwonder - http://twitter.com/HEAT_Girlwonder Miami Heat_TheSkinny - http://twitter.com/HEAT_TheSkinny Miami Heat_Team_Store - http://twitter.com/heat_team_store Players: Dwyane Wade - http://twitter.com/dwadeofficial Mario Chalmers - http://twitter.com/mister6clutch Jermaine O'Neal - http://twitter.com/jermaineoneal Quentin Richardson - http://twitter.com/Qrich Daequan Cook - http://twitter.com/3ptChamp Dorell Wright - http://twitter.com/DWRIGHTWAY Michael Beasley (before he closed his account) - http://twitter.com/GorillaBeas If you see any Twitter accounts associated with the Miami Heat that I've missed, comment on the post, e-mail bunch@HotHotHoops.com or tweet @HotHotHoops!