Sports website ClutchPoints has become a social media juggernaut thanks largely to their brand of fun, over-the-top graphics that frequently go viral among NBA fandom.
The man behind the ClutchPoints operation is 28-year old Nish Patel, who created a popular Derrick Rose Facebook page during his time as a student at UCLA and then the pretty successful ‘NBA Memes‘ brand in 2012. NBA Memes became a quick success, growing from 100,000 followers the first week to a million fans in just a month. Today there are five million NBA Memes fans, according to Patel.
“I didn’t want to just build a meme company but a media company,” Patel said in an interview with HoopsHype. “So we started creating these individual team pages like Cavs Nation, Warriors Nation… We built the largest Facebook pages for 90 percent of teams then Facebook groups, the Twitters, the Instagrams, the TikToks… That really taught us what fans really care about. We’re trying to take every single moment that happens and put the most creative twist we can be.”
ClutchPoints is a well-funded operation with investors like former NBA star Baron Davis and a team of 15 graphic designers plus another 15 social editors.
“There’s always like three or four people online,” Patel said. “So it’s up to them to communicate amongst each other and be like okay, ‘Will this be taken the wrong way, maybe racially, sexually…?’ Those are the questions we always ask before we post anything. We don’t want to get any backlash on that kind of stuff. So those are the final questions that are asked, and we have like a ‘Do not do list’ that they have to look through and checkmark before they post anything.”
“So now we want to take what they love from us, our graphics, and give it to them in video form whether it be animation, original content, video series, documentaries… That’s going to be our next step. How does culture meet trending TV shows meet sports? That’s our bread and butter.”
But which of the graphics created by ClutchPoints are Patel’s favorites? We asked him to put together a list of 10 that you can check below:
“I was a big, big Harry Potter fan growing up. Actually, a lot of my early birthday parties were in November and that was when the Harry Potter movies would come out. So my birthday was going with my friends to watch the new Harry Potter movie. We always like to test our audience: How many of our fans care about Harry Potter or Star Wars? We’re always trying these different things and if they hit, then we rank them. We have a ranking of the TV shows that our fans truly care about. We obviously have The Office, The Mandalorian and Game of Thrones at the top but these older ones we don’t really know where they fit in because we do a lot of younger audience as well, the Gen Z audience, so we’re always figuring out what do they care about? And yes, it changes weekly.”
“Well, we had to do it, right? He’s the GOAT, we always call him the GOAT, then his teammates started calling up the GOAT… What better than to put him in the GOAT format. We had to put him up doing the play of LeBron James‘ career. He is a likable guy, he has all these nicknames like the Bald Eagle, all these different things. We play on it, we tried to make it fun and a lot of these Laker players actually follow our account, and engage with us sending us laughing faces, emojis and stuff like that. We wanted to make this whole thing about, ‘How to make the players look good and build the brand.’ We want to build the player’s brand, we want to build the team’s brand, we want to build the league’s brand. Because that helps us get a bigger audience of people that can care about the content we’re producing.”
“The point of this was, ‘How do we provide some kind of closure through graphic, through original content?’ When I heard the news in January, my first thought actually was, ‘Oh, he’s probably going to carry his daughter out of the ashes, he’s fine.’ You always thought of him as someone that could survive anything. The point of this was, ‘Hey we got to show his five championship trophies, his pathway.’ This was his walk into heaven, and he’s playing and he’s obviously going to be destroying all these people in heaven, that’s who he’s going to be and all of his buddies and everyone he grew up around is all around him.”
“With Kawhi Leonard, everyone is always doing something on social media with things like the one laugh he has, the fact he shows no emotion… Everyone thinks he’s one of the strongest guys in the league. First off, it’s something no one’s ever seen before. People may have seen the video but they haven’t seen him chopping through something like this. So, we make it in a way where it’s something they haven’t seen. It’s a scrolling stopper, that’s what we call it… When you’re like scrolling on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook or wherever you stop and you’re like, ‘Wait, did I just see that?’ And then you go back up.”
“We’re looking for weird stats and we saw, not only did Luka Doncic outscore and out-assist LeBron James, he’s only 20 years old so, and what is LeBron known as? The King of the NBA. Well, there’s someone coming in for the crown, so we played off of that and put them in the ground and LeBron’s got to be bowing down to him in the picture because he’s taken over the league.”
“This was Kuz’s birthday. What we did, as you can see from the videos that she basically put a sign up, was to recreate that moment, because a lot of these NBA fans are not in the bubble. We wanted to recreate that moment. Our whole thought around the bubble was to recreate everything happening in there because no one’s there to see it. So just bring it to life so that people can actually experience the bubble through graphics.”
“We have actually a whole folder of every single big TV show and their biggest moments, and we have categorized them based on what just happened. So when a crossover happens do this, or when a dunk happens do this… So we kind of index the whole thing and when big moments happen we’re like, ‘Okay, was this a shocking moment?’ and then we look through our archive and go from there. What we learned is definitely act quickly but if you don’t, then act differently in a way you’re still unique. We’re always trying to think of the reactionary stuff, or what’s next beyond the actual news.”
“A lot of these amazing up and coming basketball influencers have started popping up everywhere. And we wanted to just recreate that with NBA stars, so it makes it relevant. We tried to make these influencers, this basketball influencer community big, but we leveraged some of these big-name players to do it. Less people will care about a person they’ve never heard of before – so we put these superstars into suits to make the graphic relevant to the fanbase. Also, as you can see we use very bright colors so it really pops on newsfeeds. People are looking at this like, ‘What is this?’ And then they swipe right and then they see the video of what actually transpired.”
“These are funny because these are memes, right? This kind of gets us back to where we first started. When we were first started with memes, the whole goal was like, ‘Let’s diversify away from memes’, and we kept doing that and doing that. And then six years later I looked back and said, ‘Hey, memes were working so well, why did we diversify so far away from that?’ So we tried to infuse that meme mentality back, let’s make our ClutchPoints graphics more meme, more comedy. This is a very famous meme template.”
Legends who passed away in 2020
“2020 was a tough year. Not just for basketball fans, but fans of the culture behind sports in general. The goal of this was to show that while these legends have left us, they will stay in our hearts forever.”