Hamstrung for five months by the NBA lockout, the Philadelphia 76ers still found a way to appeal to fans and NBA followers alike during the league-imposed time off. First, the team scooped up a few trophy cases worth of Julius Erving memorabilia, helping the Sixer legend as he recovers from a bad investment while giving Sixer fans something cool to look at during halftime of games. Then the ownership group listened to fans and dumped their old mascot, while inviting fan reaction to three possible new team mascots.
Now, the team has hired a 23-year-old social media maven who essentially earned his way into the team's good graces by acting as a friendly Twitter squatter. Instead of reacting negatively once Jerry Rizzo beat the team to the punch by registering Twitter handles under the names of the team's new potential mascots, Sixers owner Adam Aron reached out to Rizzo to pick his brain and, eventually, hand him a job with the team.
Here's Rizzo's side of the story, from Mashable:
"Then on Saturday, 76ers CEO Adam Aron left Rizzo a voicemail asking Rizzo to call him back. Rizzo did, and Aron quizzed him about his interests and experiences, adding that he had been impressed by Rizzo's online portfolio and work. On Monday, Rizzo went to team headquarters for a series of in-person interviews before sitting down with Aron again.
"He said, 'We'd like to offer you a position with the team," Rizzo recalled on Monday evening of accepting a social media coordinating position. "And I said, 'Yeah.' I mean, it would be kind of like a dream job for me.
"I knew when I was doing the accounts that I was handling them in a professional way, but it wasn't for the purpose of getting a job or tickets or anything like that," he said. "So I'm definitely surprised and super thankful that Adam Aron recognized my passion for social media and took the time to look at my portfolio and get to know me."
It's a pretty smart move by the Sixers, because if the ever-changing world of social media is any indication, the smartest guy in the room in that particular field will likely be the younger one doing something on a device you've never seen, checking an account that you've never heard of. Punk kids.
Again, Rizzo and his friend Hunter Coleman basically acted as Twitter squatters in registering accounts for two of the mascot finalists, @PhilEMoose and @BFranklinDogg. And the Sixers were well within their rights to play hardball, claim intellectual property, and raise a stink while trying to make the accounts their own. But in a "fool me once shame on you, fool me once shame on me"-situation, the Sixers made a sound PR move and hired someone who can clearly show the team how to run these things.
This would be the part where I would ask NBA owners if they need any help in telling their GMs how to run things, but I'm not sure David Stern would allow any of my trades.
(Rizzo picture courtesy his Twitter account.)