The basketball team says new accounts will increase the Wizards’ global reach and connect them with Arab-American fans.
This is how the newly created Arabic social media accounts of the NBA’s Washington Wizards are signing their posts as part of a new campaign to connect the basketball franchise with Arabic-speaking viewers.
Late last week, the Wizards became the first NBA team to launch Arabic-language accounts on Twitter and Instagram as part of a campaign to increase the team’s international exposure.
“We’re excited to add Arabic language social platforms to our global portfolio,” said Wizards official Jim Van Stone. “We know that Arabic-speaking basketball fans will enjoy our content and feel more connected to The Wizards.”
The team said the new channels are also an outlet to connect with Arab-American fans in the Washington, DC area.
Sports teams around the world are pushing to connect with an international audience, including in the Middle East. Most of the top European football teams have Arabic social media channels. Qatar will host the FIFA World Cup next month, the first time the tournament has been staged in the region.
The NBA itself launched Arabic social media channels this year.
So far, the Wizards’ Arabic accounts have published posts that mirror those of their English-language accounts, including updates from a preseason game against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.
In one of the first posts on Friday, the team’s power forward Anthony Gill greeted followers with “Assalamu alaikum,” meaning “peace be upon you.”
“We are very happy to keep in touch with our Arabic-speaking friends throughout the year,” he said.
A constant in the posts so far has been the hashtag “Yallawizards,” which means “come on wizards.” “Yalla” is a word of encouragement in Arabic associated with cheering on sports teams.
The launch of the Wizards’ Arab social media accounts coincided with the first NBA games in the Arab world when Abu Dhabi hosted two preseason games between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks last week.
“As the NBA continues to expand around the world, we look forward to visiting Abu Dhabi and furthering the league’s goals of inspiring people through basketball,” Milwaukee Bucks president Peter Feigin said in a statement previewing the games at the May. “We will be proud to represent our city, our state and Bucks fans worldwide in October.”
The NBA has hosted games in Paris, London and China in recent years. Players from outside the United States and Canada have also grown in number and prominence in the league, with Greek power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Serbia center Nikola Jokic winning the Most Valuable Player award over the past four years.
The new NBA season begins October 19 with San Francisco’s Golden State Warriors looking to defend their title.