TikTok is an Easy Alley-Oop for the NBA

Reba Liddy
3 min readApr 17, 2021


Joining a new social media platform can be intimidating, especially if a brand that isn’t really popular joins a platform that never thrives. I have been asked more times than I care to share if I plan on creating a TikTok account. On a personal and professional level, it’s a “no” for me, until I absolutely have to create one. TikTok is “is a short-form, video-sharing app that allows users to create and share 15-second videos, on any topic.” On the rare times I’m on Instagram, I catch a few TikTok videos and they are very entertaining. I appreciate the brands that are willing to take the risk (and frankly, dedicate the time) to join a new social media platform, like the National Basketball Association (NBA). They joined the platform in 2016, and they have been killing the game ever since.

Los Angeles Lakers Basketball GIF By NBA

NBA Slam Dunks All Over TikTok

TikTok “launched as Douyin in September 2016” and it was a Chinese-based platform, and since the NBA is China’s most popular sports league, having roughly 500 million fans, it makes sense for the league to join this platform. In 2016, the NBA jumped on the platform. Bob Carney, the NBA vice president, said that it was a no-brainer to join the platform. “It was very young, the platform skewed female and the content was substantially different than what we were doing on other platforms. It ticked a lot of boxes and made sense for us to add to our portfolio,” he stated in 2018.

There are some brands that do not need to be early adopters — the NBA isn’t one of them. As I previously stated, brands that are not popular and don’t have a following should wait until it becomes apparent that they should join another social media platform. The league consists of 30 teams across the United States and Canada, which brings a diverse fan base beyond those borders — they will have people gravitate toward any social media platform they join. Also, with the NBA having almost 75 years of competitions, I will go on the ledge by saying that they have more than enough content for any new platform that might pop up.

Chicago Bulls Dunk GIF By NBA

This short-form video app isn’t only successful within the United States, but worldwide. Since December 2020, TikTok had 2.6 billion times around the world. In 2018, the NBA ended up partnering with the app “to showcase custom highlights, with local-language clips, in a half-dozen countries, including Brazil, China and India.”

TikTok’s Popularity Skyrockets in 2020

TikTok’s popularity exploded in 2020, in first quarter of the year, “the app had 315 million downloads, which is the best quarter by any app, ever.” We can possibly credit a multitude of things — boredom, the world shutting down due to the coronavirus, and people doing challenges to connect with others. I mean, I definitely did the “Savage Challenge” with my best friends.

This app gained political attention, too, when users decided to troll the president by buying tickets to his campaign rally with no intention of attending. His campaign was expecting many in attendance, filling up the 19,000-seat space, instead there were roughly 6,000 people in attendance. He retaliated by trying to ban the short-form video application from the United States, which was short lived.

Happy Russell Westbrook GIF By ESPN

Will TikTok Stay or Go?

I’m not an expert on predicting the lifespan of a social media platform, I was on MySpace until 2010. But I will say that TikTok is popular with Generation Z, replacing Instagram as their second most popular social media application. TikTok is riding the wave of being the cool new friend that everybody wants to play with.

With that being said, I don’t think TikTok is going away anytime soon, “its usage among US adults has increased exponentially, with 26.5 out of the 500 million monthly active users coming from the US.” But we have witnessed that popular apps, like Vine, a social media app that limited users to 6-second videos, and MySpace, the first social media platform that taught me why learning HTML was important, lose their popularity due to the next big thing.



Reba Liddy

Reba Liddy is a marketing and communications professional with nearly a decade of experience. She has her MA in Public Relations