NBA opens Turnstile for fans to check in

The check-in has come to the NBA.

Just like MLB -- which added check-in functionality to its At Bat application earlier this season -- and the NHL -- which increased emphasis for stadium check-ins via Foursquare at the onset of its season earlier this month -- the NBA has gotten into the game this season with NBA Turnstile. And there's also ESPN's Passport app, which also has the check-in feature.

Turnstile is accessible first and foremost through the league's official NBA Game Time mobile application but also can be used via the web and "select connected devices," according to a news release.

And it allows for fans to check in to a game pretty much anywhere they may be taking it in.

Physical-location check-ins such as the stadium or sports bar that we're used to seeing through services such as Foursquare and Gowalla -- which also are integrated into the app, allowing users to check in via one or both of them as well -- are available through Turnstile, which was developed in conjunction with Fanvibe.

But fans also are able to digitally/virtually check in to nationally televised games on ESPN, TNT, NBA TV and ABC -- meaning those sitting on the couch can get into the game as well.

Similar to most check-in services, fans are rewarded with points and badges depending on how often they are checking in, and special discounts, ticket offers and NBA prizes are available.

Turnstile also will drill down to individual franchises, with the likes of Phoenix, Dallas, Golden State and New York -- to name a few -- creating team-specific customization for fans.

And in an effort to cover all social media bases, there's Twitter and Facebook integration as well.

"The combination of physical and virtual check-ins and the integration with major location-based networks creates a powerful platform for teams, fans and advertisers alike," Bryan Perez, senior vice president/general manager for NBA Digital, said in the release.

Although certainly nothing new, the NBA's commitment to the check-in at the start of its new season is yet another sign that most major sports leagues are embracing the mutually beneficial relationship such functionality can create. It's both a platform where fans can score discounts, tickets and the like while also being a device for leagues and teams to expand their brands and drive revenue.

Thumbs-up for NASCAR on Facebook

The NBA trumps all American sports leagues in terms of Facebook likes (5.6 million) and Twitter followers (2.1 million).

But NASCAR recently clicked in over the 1 million mark on Facebook and is using Fan Appz -- which Jock-o-sphere has previously profiled -- to run a sweepstakes in celebration of the milestone.

Fan Appz's poll and quizzes also appear to have helped NASCAR increase its profile on Facebook. According to the company, when it started working with NASCAR in mid-February, it had around 430,000 fans. But in eight months' time, the number has more than doubled to more than 1 million … and counting.

Rise in positive LeBron tweets

Back at the beginning of July, LeBron James invited the Web to sign up and join his website.

And in conjunction with the Miami Heat's opener on Tuesday evening, those who signed up finally received an e-mail Wednesday morning saying the site was live.

It features a sharp, illustration-heavy design, although the navigation leaves a little to be desired. There's plenty of content exclusive to the site: photos of James on the set of his new, much-buzzed-about Nike "Rise" commercial, as well as videos of LeBron working out and talking about his Akron upbringing and his thoughts on the upcoming season.

Speaking of the "Rise" commercial: Where James was retweeting hate directed at him last week, once the Nike spot hit the Web Monday, James' Twitter account flipped the script and retweeted around 30 positive tweets centered on the spot.

Ryan Corazza is a freelance writer and Web designer based in Chicago who also contributes to ESPN Insider's NBA Rumor Central.