- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who caused a viral buzz on the Internet several times this summer from playing Bow Wow one-on-one to hitting a game-winning shot in a pickup game against fellow NBA stars, set the World Wide Web aflame again on Wednesday.
In a brief period of a couple of hours on Wednesday evening, Bryant launched a Twitter account, amassed more than 35,000 followers and then abruptly shut the account down.
A source close to Bryant told ESPNLosAngeles.com that Bryant's Twitter feed will return in the future and that a social media professional assisting Bryant in setting up the account "may have jumped the gun." The source said Bryant will spend more time familiarizing himself with Twitter before the account goes live again.
Bryant's account initially posted one tweet -- "Can you hear me now?!?!" -- and followed 15 people, including other NBA players such as Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul; two baseball players in Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies and Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals; and several hip-hop artists in Drake, Jay-Z, Kanye West and Lil Wayne.
Bryant had been a rare holdout to Twitter, with more than 200 NBA players (including a vast majority of the league's All-Stars) using the networking tool to connect with fans directly.
As of late Wednesday night, Bryant's "official" Facebook page, which shares content with Bryant's personal website, KB24.com, was still promoting Bryant's new Twitter feed. The post on Bryant's wall, which was accompanied by the account's avatar -- a Photoshop rendering of a snake head swallowing the blue bird that serves as Twitter's mascot -- had more than 3,700 "likes" and more than 400 comments.
The five-time champion's briefly joining Twitter capped an eventful day for the social media site as it pertains to the NBA. Earlier in the afternoon, New York Knicks guard and NBA union vice president Roger Mason Jr. tweeted, "Looking like a season. How you," in the midst of the latest round of negotiations between the owners and the players' association in New York on Wednesday.
The message caused some to believe that progress has been made toward settling upon a new collective bargaining agreement, but even quicker than Bryant shut his Twitter account down later in the day, Mason deleted the tweet and claimed his account was hacked. He later tweeted, "Tomorrow we have more meetings and I'm hoping there is progress. Today's meetings did nothing to make me feel more optimistic."
The NBA has been locked out since July 1.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.