NBA Players, Like Us, Can't Stop Touching Their Phones At Halftime

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A question of willpower: if you were being paid tens of thousands to play each professional basketball game, could you manage to stay off your phone at halftime? Easy for me to say hell yes from a haughty blogger perch—and maybe the answer still is hell yes—but for many NBA players, scrolling through the Twitter mentions has become halftime ritual, says the New York Times. Though the league has no official policy against phone use (so long as you don’t post anything to social media), some of the perpetrators, like the Knicks’ Kevin Seraphin, ooze with guilt. Put this shimmering jewel on a t-shirt:

“I’m not perfect,” Seraphin said. “I love social networks.”

His candor is brave, given how hard it is to imagine that phone-checking improves anyone’s performance—ask anyone who has disappeared for hours into the sinkhole of a couch and glowing screen, on a night they hoped to accomplish a number of Important Tasks. Even within the fifteen-odd minutes of halftime, a few bad tweets could derail your focus on the game. And this comes from someone whose mentions are much quieter, cleaner, and supportive (please don’t make any efforts to change that) than a sportsman whose performance gets scrutinized on national TV by thousands of cartons of Twitter eggs.

Maybe some vengeful players use the online anger to fuel what they do on the court. Nick Young, who’s mentioned in the piece, might not get a lot of positive reinforcement for his actual play, so he must have reasons beyond masochism to keep checking. Surely JR Smith uses the Direct Messages feature to sort out his postgame recovery plans. And even if the practice hurts their performance, there are worse halftime pleasures to be had, like Metta World Peace’s Gatorade replacement strategy.

The best NBA figure in this piece—apart from former Nuggets coach Brian Shaw, hilariously described as someone “who has admitted to having difficulty relating to millennials”—is formerly ponytailed Knicks reserve Lou Amundson. Watch his ascension as a messiah ready to shepherd us into the post-technological future:

Amundson, who studied philosophy at Nevada-Las Vegas, said society’s collective phone addiction hindered “pure interaction” and “intention-filled relationships.” He thought texting and social media divided a person’s energy in negative ways. He rued how the dopamine-loop associated with devices obliterated a person’s attention span.

“It takes us as a society someplace I don’t think we need to be going,” Amundson said. “I really feel strongly that there’s going to be some kind of countercultural revolution where people start to reject this idea that you need to be connected and you need to have access to everything and you need a phone in front of your face the whole day.”


ATTN Lou Amundson: I largely accept your argument and will join your commune. I can forage fungi.