Marcus Derrickson was preparing for a stint with the Golden State Warriors at NBA Summer League when his friends urged him to show off his gains in the weight room. Derrickson, a 22-year-old forward who played at Georgetown, was — and remains — a social media neophyte. At the time, he had posted all of five photos on Instagram.
“I actually like to live my life,” Derrickson said, “and not do it through social media.”
But his friends wanted him to flex his muscles for the world to see. They told him he should be proud of his hard work. And then they made their closing argument.
“They were like, ‘You might as well do what LeBron does,'” he recalled.
Derrickson followed through by logging onto Instagram and sharing a 5-second clip of himself doing chest flyes with weighted cables. He added a caption for good measure: “Focused.”
LeBron James has used social media to promote his television projects, congratulate former teammates on their contracts and pine for pizza parties. He has used social media to announce that he is going dark on social media, at least for the playoffs. He has used social media to celebrate his wedding anniversary and share a clip of himself jumping off a cliff.
But James, who recently decided to take his social media talents to the Los Angeles Lakers, has also used platforms like Twitter and Instagram to give his tens of millions of followers peeks behind the curtain — with glimpses of his offseason workouts. At various junctures of his career, James has posted snippets of himself running full-court sprints, balancing on inflatable balls and rapping to himself in a weight room.
James’ influence on the rest of the NBA is impossible to overstate — and it extends all the way to his penchant for grainy, self-styled videos and photos of himself working really hard, almost always without his shirt on, in the hot summer months.
“Everybody watches his clips,” Derrickson said. “He’s the best in the world.”
The trend of posting these videos did not necessarily start with James — a representative for James said he was unavailable for comment, and the forensics of the practice are cloudy at best — but he certainly helped popularize it.
“The NBA is full of copycats,” said Justin Zormelo, a trainer who has worked with dozens of high-profile clients like Dwight Howard and Kevin Durant. “So when LeBron posts something, you can bet that 99 percent of the league is going to do it, too — the young kids, especially.”