Earlier this week, there was a moment during a Golden State Warriors game against the Milwaukee Bucks when Steph Curry, Golden State's star player and widely beloved human, took a tough three-pointer and turned away without looking to see if he made it—the shot went in, of course. In stark contrast, one of the NBA's greatest fails in recent history: last seasons, the Lakers' Nick Young launched into a premature celebration of a three that, it turned out, he did not make. Both moments, alongside countless other on-court and sideline minutiae, were immortalized on Vine; I've watched the six-second clips many, many times.
In the grand scheme of player statistics and team analysis, those particular instances are almost meaningless. But Vine magnifies them. You can draw hone in on moments that would otherwise fly by during a regular broadcast—the extent of Curry's confidence in his own precise, graceful shot, for instance, or Young's showmanship and the reactions it draws from his teammates. Rather than wait to see whether the play will make it into a SportsCenter segment, fans can decide for themselves which moments are most important, with Vines being created, posted, and shared almost immediately, and more ubiquitously than ever. Often, the clips that go viral are of moments that otherwise wouldn't make it into official highlight reels, but are deemed just as important by Vine users, many of whom simply pull out their smartphones and record directly off of their televisions or computer screens.
Since its launch less than three years ago, the Twitter-owned app has morphed into various various roles—star-making comedians like King Bach and Jerome Jarre, propping up niche subculture crazes like the Shmoney and the NaeNae, and popularizing slang like "on fleek," thanks to Peaches Monroe's eyebrows. But Vine's emergence as a home for sports highlights has been astounding and a pleasure to participate in—why watch a drawn-out two-minute YouTube video when a six-second clip can zero in on the exact moment of a play that you need and loop it until your brain has adequately stored every moment? Or, as in the case of Serge Ibaka's bench shenanigans or Kevin Durant's chest-pounding mid-game boasts, highlight sideline action that viewers might have otherwise missed? Some of the most popular Vines are of player or fan reactions, which serves as a reminder that what fans love about sports encompasses way more than just gameplay. Just look at this Vine of Kobe's reacting with surprise to a more recent, and successful, Nick Young play.
Though Instagram added a video function last year, and Twitter itself has rolled out a feature that lets users post native video in bursts up to 30 seconds long, honed-in homemade Vines will keep the platform going as the frontrunner in the world of unofficial sports highlights.
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