- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 21, 2009

PHOENIX (AP) - Halftime “tweets” seem to be the latest NBA fad.

Suns center Shaquille O’Neal posted a note on his Twitter feed before a home game against Washington on Saturday night, suggesting he plans to post to the popular social networking Web site during halftime.

“Attention all twitterers I’m a tweet at halftime and not get fined like vill a new wave a whteva his name is,” Shaq wrote.

Last Sunday, Milwaukee Bucks forward Charlie Villanueva became an overnight Web celebrity after he posted a note, called a “tweet”, to his Twitter feed during halftime of his game against Boston.

Villanueva wrote that he had to step it up in the second half. He did, and the Bucks won. But coach Scott Skiles was annoyed, saying it gave the impression that Villanueva wasn’t focused. Skiles said Villanueva would not be fined for the incident but said it was a “no-brainer” that players shouldn’t be doing such things from the locker room any more.

Twitter allows its users to send short, text-message style notes to a mass audience and is rising in popularity among athletes, politicians and celebrities.

O’Neal (screen name: “THE_REAL_SHAQ”) occasionally uses the site to give away tickets to fans. Cyclist Lance Armstrong (“lancearmstrong”) provides updates on the frequency of his anti-doping tests and posts pictures from his training rides.

Though Villanueva promised not to tweet again during a game, he did question whether there’s much difference between a player taking a few seconds to do a television interview at halftime and taking a few seconds to use their mobile phone to post a Web message to fans.

On Friday, the new Women’s Professional Soccer league announced it will allow selected players to tweet during its inaugural game between the Los Angeles Sol and Washington Freedom on March 29. Depending on fan response, league officials are considering allowing players to tweet during games all season.

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