Facebook only introduced its chatbot platform in April, but already several companies have created their own bots for the social network's Messenger service, using them to field queries and provide information to customers and fans. The NBA is the latest organization to do just that — just in time for its Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The league's bot, launched today on Facebook Messenger, can show highlights of specific players, top plays, and condensed action from games that took place in the NBA playoffs in response to queries from users. Clips are delivered in Facebook Messenger itself, the bot handing over links that take you to NBA.com's official videos, and some of the slower bots that characterized Facebook Messenger's rollout of the feature, answers come instantly.
It's a useful way for fans to catch up on top plays, but as a British person living in Japan — only tangentially aware that basketball even exists — I was hoping the NBA's chatbot would help me work out why people in my Twitter timeline are so obsessed with Curry all of a sudden. Sadly, its limited options are tailored toward existing basketball fans, and there's no real intelligence behind its answers. When I asked it to explain what traveling was, it just told me to ask for video of specific players, something of a problem when your knowledge of the game commonly called hoopy-ball-ball (maybe?) starts and ends with NBA Jam on the SNES.