Twitter is one of the largest communication tools in the world. It has been the medium for the rise and fall of celebrities and brands, and heralded as a platform that allows people from all over the world to connect and talk freely and openly.
Yet, Twitter’s iconic bird logo is named after a celebrity who would never touch social media; a man, who if you gave him a choice between two friends and a glass of scotch or 10,000,000 Twitter followers, would choose the former 100 out of 100 times.
The name for the famous logo? It’s Larry, Larry (the) Bird. Named after the NBA legend who was as equally famous for being reticent as he was for his on-court dominance.
On the surface, this connection seems odd, to say the least. Larry Bird does not have a Twitter account. He doesn’t even have a public Facebook page, for that matter. His only social media presence is an automatically generated Facebook page, a Wikipedia-esque fact sheet with biography information and a few pictures from his playing days. The page has almost half-a-million “likes”, but for those that followed bird throughout his career, that, most likely, is of no interest to him.
Strangely, though, the connection of a worldwide communications brand with a quiet kid from the backroads of Indiana, makes all the sense in the world.
For one, there’s Twitter co-founder, Biz Stone: a 39-year-old Boston native, an avid Celtics fan, and an entrepreneur who is as much like Bird as any social media founder could be. Not to say that he is as quiet and shy as bird is, expectedly, he is quite active on his own social network. But for one of the “founding fathers” of social media, a platform that revolutionized communications and is designed to blur the lines between professional and personal lives by opening up instant connections to the world, he is surprisingly reserved.
For example, if you take a look at Stone’s Facebook profile, you wouldn’t be able to tell he is a social network founder. He posts more about his kids and good beer than he does his next speaking engagement, and has a, quite humble, 52 friends on the rival social network.
He, like Bird, doesn’t need to brag. His performance speaks for itself.
Then, there’s Stone’s company, a reflection of Bird’s quiet strength and commitment to excellence. While Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, dominates the media with announcements and grandiose changes to the social network, many that have been hit-and-miss, Twitter has quietly been catching up to its rival. Choosing more subtle changes that reflect the wants and desires of its users, rather than those of accountants.
Finally, there’s the fact that Twitter, in its design, is very much a reflection of all that made Larry Bird great.
Larry Bird was a gifted athlete, one has to be to make it in professional sports, but he wasn’t as naturally gifted as Jordan or Magic. Rather, it was Bird’s commitment to mastering the basic fundamentals of basketball that put him in the same class as these players.
Twitter, with its simple design and 140 character per tweet limit, is without pomp as well. Those who flourish on the micro-blogging site, are those who can present complex issues in simple ways. You have to be creative, yes, but the people who succeed on Twitter are those who are willing to sacrifice flash for flesh in their content. Twitter, like Bird, excels while under the radar, and seems to be perfectly happy with doing so.
It seems strange, yes, but the more you think about it, the more this marriage of quiet athlete and simple social media seems perfect. And, while you’ll never see Larry tweeting about it, I am sure, somewhere, at sometime, Larry heard about the nod to him, smiled quickly, yet proudly, and moved on to the next thought quietly – like only Larry could.