Ball Don’t Lie’s Indispensable Twitter Must-Follows: The Ink-Stained Wretches

The NBA is currently putting the "off" in its "offseason," which means it is time to recalibrate. Take the Windex to the TV, run your beer helmet through the dishwasher twice, send those retro jerseys to the dry cleaners, and check up on the correct spelling of "haterrrrz." Also, perhaps, update your Twitter follows, in order to make sure you've got everything in place needed to stay in touch with the NBA as training camp approaches.

Inspired by Sports Illustrated's initial "Twitter 100" (which will be updated on Wednesday), we've put together a collection of indispensable Twitter NBA must-follows — from internet types to newspaper giants, cranks and rooters, people with brains bigger than ours, and the slicked-back on-camera folk. In the interest of fair play we've excluded all Yahoo! Sports Twitter accounts from the proceedings; but let's face it, you're definitely already following Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears. How would you have known about any trade or signing from the last four years if you weren't?

Following the jump, take a look at our list, as lovingly compiled by the Ball Don't Lie team of Kelly Dwyer, Dan Devine, and Eric Freeman. We're sure we've overlooked a few, unintentionally, so we welcome your feedback in the comments or in 140 characters or less. Fly onward, blue birdies …

In the first installment of five, here are the Ink-Stained Wretches. All follower counts are as of September 16th, 2012:

Benjamin Hochman — Nuggets news, natch, stories from the road, in-game insight and envy and heartburn-inducing cheeseburger reviews. Also, a strain of fandom for the television epic 'Dallas' that only an 80's refugee or bored college freshman could understand. Also, mustache.

Bethlehem Shoals — The former FreeDarko mastermind says he's out of the game, for now, but he remains a wretch as FD's 'Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac' and 'Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball' sit perilously close to our laptop as we write. His influence on the great The Classical, and most mindful modern sportswriting, lives on.

Bruce Arthur — Not strictly an NBA columnist — he'd have to spend his time working with the Raptors, after all — but one of the finest all-around general columnists in North America, and a devastatingly on-point Twitter presence. Also potentially a bearded criminal mastermind from the future, we're not entirely sure.

Chris Ballard — Sports Illustrated's longtime, longform NBA scribe is also a must-read author and apparently a must-choose swingman if you're ever divvying up sides for a pickup game.

Darnell Mayberry — Even if the Thunder were still winning once out of every five tries, Mayberry's a beat writing giant. Few pull off the between-game notes roundup like Darnell, and his Twitter feed reflects that.

Eric Koreen — Eric comes off as a cheerful, cool Twitter presence full of funny quips and asides until he drops a link to his latest column and … damn, nailed it. Great tweets, and even better work at the day gig.

Frank Isola — The image is correct: Frank's a badass. He also breaks stories, somehow rises above the Dolan-era Knicks with perspective intact, and is an inspiration for any college-age journalism student that wants to know if you can make it in this business while remaining a quite-sufferable smart-aleck.

Gary Washburn — We thought this even before realizing the lineage — Washburn churns out one of the few must-read Sunday notes columns left in a newspaper world hamstrung by an internet that's already beaten the physical press to the punch. Factor in the notes column's history (Globe alumni Peter Gammons perfected it, ex-Globester Peter May wrote a fantastic one for years, and Marc J. Spears expertly followed his turn), and that knowledge goes down a little smoother.

Howard Beck — Beck's been a beat giant for years, back to his time at the Los Angeles Daily News covering the Shaq'n'Kobe Lakers, leading through his time trying to keep a straight face with Isiah Thomas' Knicks and last year's needless NBA lockout. Even if his timeline served as a feed to his Times work, the follow would be worth it. Luckily, it isn't; Beck's a funny cat who knows his way around 140.

Ian Thomsen — SI's Boston-based hoophead drops all manner of column-y links (great catches, interview-wise) and in-game notes from his Twitter feed.

Ira Winderman — The Larry O'Brien trophy is in Miami, and you need a source within the walls that Pat Riley has probably already bugged with Nixon-era listening devices he won eBay. More often than not, Ira's your guy within those walls. You need him within those walls.

Jack McCallum — Jack has only been on Twitter for a few months, but great writers make their presence known immediately. They can't help it. McCallum, who filed the copy that detailed the Magic/Bird Finals' of the 1980s that had you stomping your feet while waiting for that latest Sports Illustrated to show up in that mailbox three decades ago, recently released a fantastic Dream Team memoir.

Jeff McDonald — This Spurs beat writer is valuable not merely because the Spurs are always around, but because he's someone whose sense of humor seems very appropriately attuned to the wry, veteran, Gregg Popovich-led group.

Jerry Zgoda — Notes and notes and notes and links and notes and columns and gamers and notes from the man following what figures to be one of the more entertaining teams in the league over the next few years.

Jon Krawczynski — It's hard to stand out as a writer within the confines of both wire work, and to-the-second post-game deadlines. Somehow, for a while now, Krawczynski has stood out; and his Twitter feed reflects that.

K.C. Johnson — Covering the Chicago Bulls takes a measured approach; you'll have to jump from dealing with championship contenders to full-on tankers in the blink of an eye, along with the odd coach/GM shove-fest. Johnson's been That Guy for a while now, full of all sorts of info as he attempts to wrangle something (anything!) out of a franchise (coaching staff, and roster) we'd hardly classify as "discursive."

Kevin Ding — If we had a quarter for every blog post that was sourced with, "according to the Orange County Register's Kevin Ding …," we'd probably be able to spend the rest of September playing Ms. Pac-Man because YOLO. Ding is fantastic, doing fine work while embedded with these Laker nutters.

Marc Berman — Berman of the Post breaks stories, always fun, and he's always down for a game of "Spot the Plant." Cracks aside, Berman's got his sources, his good stuff, and he's a necessary component if you want to pay attention to these Knicks from afar, or just a few blocks away. Plus, he wants to hear from you!

Michael Cunningham — This isn't a shot at an expertly-crafted, on-deadline gamer; but to the fan the notes column filed after the pregame noise can be just as necessary. Even more so than gamers in a way, now that we can receive updated scores on our virtual reality phones. Cunningham's work in the space between is excellent.

Michael Grange — Grange knows his hoops, and though he doesn't exclusively tweet or write about the NBA, he's still the first writer we've seen utilize advanced basketball statistics in a hardcover coffee table book about the league.

Michael Lee — Perhaps the best thing you can say about Michael Lee is that he has a sense of humor needed to ably cover the Washington Wizards. Maybe the best thing you can say about him is that he runs a Wiz blog in his off time that rivals those that run Wizards blogs full time; and one that rivals his fine work both in gamers and notes columns. Maybe the best thing to say is that his Twitter feed encompasses all of this.

Mike Bresnahan — You don't follow Mike Bresnahan because you have to, merely because he covers the league's most famous team for its area's biggest newspaper. You follow him because he pulls it off, expertly, weaving in news and notes with a columnist's touch on a beat writer's word count.

Mike Monroe — Monroe's irascible, hilarious style has been a must-read since his time at the Denver Post. A perfect fit covering the Spurs, Monroe showcases his strength in spotting league-wise trends, and his in-game Twitter work is worth your watch.

Mike Wells — Indianapolis is relative small beans in comparison to bigger leagues with four newspapers per team, but the emerging Pacers are sometimes the focus of this league, and Wells does yeoman's work covering the up and comers. As an NBA junkie, the fact that Wells appears averse to taking it easy during the summer months is much appreciated.

Paul Coro — With Steve Nash's departure, the Suns are unfortunately on their way toward becoming an NBA afterthought. That doesn't seem to bother Coro, who is as embedded and sourced as beat writers come, covering the team with an exacting style while sharing helpful re-tweets (never underestimate the re-tweet you have missed) along the way.

Peter Vecsey — He's Peter F'n Vecsey.

Rick Bonnell — NBA fans were really denied some fantastic work when the Charlotte Hornets left North Carolina in 2002, mainly because we lost two good years of Bonnell's beat work. Back on board with the Charlotte Bobcats, even if the Bobcats aren't, Rick's damn good reporting and emerging Twitter presence is something to pay attention to.

Roland Lazenby — Roland covered the Jordan-era Bulls and Phil Jackson-era Lakers like few others, he's an NBA historian that has endless amounts to share, and should be one of the first Twitter follows for any hoops fan setting up their first account. Sometimes, these things are simple.

Stefan Bondy -- Bondy is one of our newer favorites, the type that can fit a columnist's edge into a what is typically a mundane tale of day-to-day NBA "entertainment." His between-game work will be leaned quite a bit as the Nets make their Brooklyn debut in 2012-13.

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