Athletes in the YouTube Age

By Noah Davis 

On The New York Times‘ basketball blog, Rob Mahoney looks at the effect YouTube can have on an athlete’s career. His thesis is that a player of relative insignificance can have a much greater cultural impact because of one signature moment.

Case in point, Sundiata Gaines. His last-second three-pointer during one game last season beat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was a relatively insignificant moment, but it lives on through YouTube.

Mahoney also points to Shaun Livingston, an injury-plagued phenom who never lived up to the skills demonstrated by countless videos on the Internet.

The highlights of NBA players are one thing. It’s quite another for younger guys.Last week, a friend passed along the clip above. The caption: “Here is Missouri bound 5’8 Phillip Pressey dunking on future college teammate 6’8 Tony Mitchell at the TABC Allstar Game in San Antonio, Texas.”

At last check, 252,935 watched the video. Not a huge number, but certainly enough to make an impression on some fans. Pressey’s hype will grow as more watch his mind-bending athleticism. Expectations will be raised, perhaps higher than he can jump. What happens then?