How All 30 NBA Teams Celebrated Valentine’s Day on Instagram

As a social media professional, days like Valentine’s Day are the best. Driving clicks to eCommerce, impressions, improving brand sentiment and any of the other standard industry KPIs are thrown completely out the window in the name of good ‘ol fashioned fun. It’s where copy writers let their hair down and graphic designers flex on their Photoshop. Brand managers can’t resist cupid’s arrows, Marketing Mix Model be damned.

There was a lot of love on Instagram yesterday, and Michael Jordan valentines always held a special place in my heart (sorry for giving you all six Katie McGinn), so I wanted to see which NBA teams were properly carrying on  MJ’s Valentine’s Day legacy.

jordan valentines

The pictures/videos each team posted are below (complete with professional social media analysis), and the teams are listed in order of their standings in their respective conference to answer questions like: Does a team’s record correlate to how much love they were feeling? Do bad teams have more time for creativity? Will star players on bad teams participate in social media shenanigans? etc. etc. Let’s begin.

Eastern Conference

Cleveland Cavaliers

Right on target, just like Cupid’s arrow. ? #CavsWolves || #DefendTheLand

A post shared by Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) on

Whatever Lebron. He barely even shoots threes in games. That’s like posting the one photo of you and bae front row at Hamilton because you won tickets from your company when all you ever really do day-to-day (when it really matters) is sit around and watch Chicago P.D. 

I’m more curious what Iman Shumpert did for Valentine’s Day. When your girl can dance like Teyana Taylor, I’d say you have to bring your A game on all love-related days. (Please read the rest of this and come back to the video.)

Based on Teyana’s Instagram post, Iman is doing just fine.



Boston Celtics


All business from the Celtics. They didn’t post about Valentine’s Day. While they were doing “whatever it takes to get a W”, I was reading an article about Dirk Nowitzki’s biracial marriage, which starts like this:

The five Kenyan women were covered from head to toe as they stood in front of an African garb-wearing Dirk Nowitzki.

One was the love of the Dallas Mavericks forward’s life and the reason they were in Nanyuki, Kenya. The others were decoys who if incorrectly chosen could cost the 13-time NBA All-Star a goat as punishment. The 7-foot German nailed tough shots in the NBA Finals and the Olympics, and on this occasion he did the same, correctly picking his bride Jessica Olsson.

“I guess it’s one of the traditions. If you get it wrong, you got to pay the parents a goat or something. So I was lucky. I smelled her to find the right one. So, I got lucky there. But that was just an experience that I’ll never forget.”

Everyone should read this article.

Washington Wizards


Lame, but smart on the Wizards part to put John and Bradley together on this love post and hope it helps their relationship through osmosis. 

Atlanta Hawks


They posted a video of Paul Millsap tying the score and sending the game against the Blazers into overtime with a “Happy Valentine’s Day!” caption. Since a tie is like kissing your sister, thought this was a weird Vday message to send. They do have the creativity to intersect their brand into key cultural moments, so they get a social media H/T for their Grammy’s post.

Toronto Raptors


The fans apparently would much rather have a win than a DoZen DeRoses, but I enjoyed this photo.

Indiana Pacers


Marketing to anyone under the age of 13 is generally frowned upon, and the largest age demographic on Instagram is 18-29, so not sure what the strategy is here.

Chicago Bulls

Damn. Badass stop motion. The Luvabulls bringing the technology heat.

As you’d expect, Benny the Bull also got into the act.

Benny’s Bae! #happyvalentinesday

A post shared by NBA (@nba) on

Not his best work honestly. Kind of going through the motions. I personally don’t think Benny wants any part of being locked down on Valentines Day. You can’t tame this:

Detroit Pistons


Internet quizzes and choose-your-own adventure journeys are the cockroaches of social media marketing and will never die (thanks Buzzfeed), but they’re also sort of like Franzia – you know it’s not the best idea, but you still do it and slap the bag and everyone ultimately has fun. The link wasn’t still in the bio for the Pistons’ Valentine’s Day quiz, but I think I would have matched with Jon Leuer.


Milwaukee Bucks


Was hoping for more from the Bucks. This feels like a situation where the creative team presented two options and the decision making brass were soooo close to picking the “I Like Big Bucks and I Cannot Lie” photo of The Greek Freak (ow ow) winking but got cold feet at the last second.

Charlotte Hornets




Frank the Tank! Pretty dumb overall, but from a strategy standpoint, good to encourage followers to tag their valentine to help increase virality.

Miami Heat


Classic example of not understanding your audience. No flavor or sexiness at all, and no way people in Miami are doing just as much hugging and kissing (x to o ratio is way off). Also a missed sponsor integration opportunity here. Earlier in the day they posted this “Moet Moment”.


Why not make this Valentine’s Day-related and connect the post and brand to a more culturally relevant moment while saving fee hours on the calligrapher ? Ugh.

New York Knicks

? ? Happy #ValentinesDay #Knicks fans! ? ?

A post shared by New York Knicks ? (@nyknicks) on

Knicks fans just have to be constantly shaking their heads. #FreeOakley

Philadelphia 76ers


I enjoy when the players are involved. I’m a little surprised the Sixers didn’t go more all out, but glad they didn’t overdo it with Embiid when he just got hurt.

Orlando Magic


Pretty creative picture and impressed by whoever thought of this, although it did just make me think about balls at first. It also has to piss Magic fans off that you can fit three balls in the hoop and their team can’t score.

Brooklyn Nets


Lin-sanity feels like a lifetime ago.

Western Conference

Golden State Warriors




These are fine. Could have gotten more buzz if they had involved cupcakes somehow, but that might be played out at this point. They also posted this hot dogs photo. Subliminal sexual advertising?


San Antonio Spurs


Boring, but it’s on brand.

Houston Rockets


James Harden kind of has a wonderful smile.

LA Clippers

Happy #ValentinesDay, Clipper Nation! Tag your Valentine! ??

A post shared by LA Clippers (@laclippers) on

Love. This is what real love looks like. #ThisCouldBeUsButYouPlayin

Utah Jazz

The Jazz didn’t post anything. How they didn’t enlist the services of the beautiful and talented Boris Diaw is a fucking travesty. 


Memphis Grizzlies

Happy Valentine’s Day! ?, The Grizzlies

A post shared by Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) on

Just Chandler Parsons being Chandler Parsons. I wonder how much convincing he needed to do this. “Hey, uh Chandler. For Valentine’s Day we want you to sing Ad…I’m in!”

I think I would really love hanging out with him, but totally get why one of the comments is: “95 million dollars for an Adele singing garbage pail.”

Oklahoma City Thunder

Happy #valentinesday!

A post shared by Oklahoma City Thunder (@okcthunder) on

Complete dick tease from Steven Adams.

Denver Nuggets

They tag almost every photo with #MileHighBasketball but don’t post anything on the biggest love day of the year? Seems they’re more of a hit it and quit it type of franchise. That kind of organizational attitude, focusing on short-term gratification instead of a wholesome foundation, is why the NBA has never out a ring on it. 

Sacramento Kings



The Kings were the only team to incorporate candy hearts. Nostalgia always plays well for brands on social. The Affalo valentine is also my favorite of all the player ones.

Side note: I feel bad for Aaron Affalo. In another life he could have been an important, Andre Iguodala-type contributor on a championship team. Instead, he’s played for the Pistons, Nuggets, Magic, Nuggets again, Trail Blazers, Kicks and Kings. Looking for love in all the wrong places.

Portland Trail Blazers

celebrating valentine’s day like

A post shared by Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) on

Good use of a past video asset for future content. Team was probably too distruaght after trading Mason Plumlee to create anything new.

Dallas Mavericks


Yaaas. As I typed “Dallas Mavericks” into the Instagram search bar I thought, “I hope theirs features Dirk. Dirk seems like a big Valentine’s Day guy.” Boom. This did not disappoint.

New Orleans Pelicans

As I typed “New Orleans Pelicans” into the search bar I thought, “No way Anthony Davis is in theirs. He already does everything for the organization. Who the F else even plays for the Pelicans?”



This did not disappoint.

Minnesota Timberwolves


Holy hot Karl. Let’s skip the reservation and order in.

L.A. Lakers

No post from the Lakers. Thinking they’re not going near any love/relationship matters after the whole D’Angelo/Swaggy P incident last year. Probably wise restraint.

Phoenix Suns


Meh. Half-hearted effort matches their last-in-the-west effort on the court.

To recap, while no one will ever emulate the iconic Jordan valentines, the big Instagram winners of Valentine’s Day in the NBA were the Mavericks, Clippers, Raptors, Kings, Bulls, Timberwolves and Iman Shumpert.

Always Iman Shumpert.


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