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Sports getting all a-Twitter

Imagine for a moment that you're a professional athlete. (If any of you reading this happen to be a pro athlete, this will be easier for you because you won't have to imagine. Also, feel free to call me anytime. Just to chat.)

As one of the best of the best, the cream of the crop, you are probably a finely tuned machine both physically and mentally. You are focused on the job at hand -- so much so that there's only one thing on your mind when there's a break in the action: grabbing your mobile phone to post a message (consisting of no more than 140 characters) to family, friends and strangers alike on a website.

You may have noticed that sports and Twitter are becoming increasingly intertwined. Sports leagues, teams, individual athletes, media outlets (including Outsports -- blatant plug alert!), all are establishing themselves on the popular social networking site. Lance Armstrong posted updates on his broken collarbone and subsequent surgery. Shaquille O'Neal posts often, even going so far as to give tickets away to the first Twitter follower to find him out and about in Phoenix.

But Milwaukee Bucks forward Charlie Villanueva took it to a new level. For Charlie, halftime isn't just a time to rest up and prepare for the second half. It's a time to feed the Twitter beast, as he did a couple of weeks ago: "In da locker room, snuck to post my twitt. We're playing the Celtics, tie ball game at da half. Coach wants more toughness. I gotta step up."

Uh, yeah. Head coach Scott Skiles told Villanueva, and the rest of the team, that in-game Tweets would not be tolerated. (Tweets are what they call Twitter posts for some reason; shouldn't they be called Twits? Seems more appropriate to me.) On the next game day, Villanueva posted again, but well before that night's game: "About to take my nap, but I'm looking for some answers here, what's the difference between halftime twitting and halftime interview?"

FYI, Charlie: one is officially part of your job. The other is something you do on your own time.

Anyway, Shaq responded by Tweeting that he'd also Tweet at halftime: "Attention all twitterers I'm a tweet at halftime and not get fined like vill a new wave a whteva his name is." And during the Suns' March 21 game, a solitary word appeared on his Twitter page: "Shhhhhhh."

I guess Suns coach Alvin Gentry isn't as concerned as Skiles, but maybe he should be: the Suns are 4 games out of the last Western Conference playoff spot.