Twitter may not be having the best week—its latest earnings call revealed that it lost 2 million users—but there are at least two things people still flock to Twitter for: custom emoji, and hashtag-based voting. This weekend, basketball fans are getting both.

For this year’s NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto, the league has debuted custom emoji that correspond to each player on the East and West rosters, activated by users tweeting a hashtag with that player’s first and last name. For example: #stephcurry gets you the smiling face of the Bay Area’s hero (though we think maybe a chef-based emoji may have been warranted, given the game’s location in Toronto), while #draymondgreen gets a flexing bicep with the number 23 to correspond to his signature move and uniform number, and #kobebryant gets a black mamba for his nickname.


The East has the requisite Cleveland crown for LeBron James, a drum for the Pistons’ Andre Drummond, and a PG-13 movie ticket for the Pacers’ Paul George and his own sobriquet.

There are also emoji for the entire TNT broadcast team, including the only one-name exception to the first name/last name hashtag rule: #shaq.


The emoji will be active on Twitter all weekend beginning tonight, but the hashtags also serve a special purpose. During the fourth quarter of Sunday evening’s All-Star Game, Twitter will be the only way for fans to votes for the game’s MVP—by using those hashtag/custom emoji combos, along with “#KiaAllStarMVP” to acknowledge the award’s official sponsor. Retweets will count up to 100 as extra votes, and once the game ends, the fan vote will be weighted as 25 percent of the overall award vote.

The NBA has experimented with Twitter voting over the past few years, incorporating it as a portion of the MVP vote in last year’s game, and this year using Twitter as a means for encouraging fans to vote for players to make the All-Star rosters. But this is the first time the All-Star MVP vote will be conducted exclusively via social media, in conjunction with custom emoji attached to the tweets/ballots. All-Star Weekend may be centered around a send-off to Kobe Bryant after a storied career, but these emoji will sure spice up the visuals for anyone following along with the game on Twitter.

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The NBA All-Star Game’s 24 Superstars Get Their Very Own Emoji