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Twitter Impacts NBA All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk Contest

The casual sports fan probably has no idea who he is. Even the casual NBA fan might struggle to identify him.

But because of Twitter, Terrence Ross, the Toronto Raptors rookie, will be in Houston this weekend participating in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend.

Here's what happened.

The first-round pick is athletic, and although he averages just six points a game, some of those points are highlight-reel dunks.

After an early season game, the hashtag "#letrossdunk" started popping up on Twitter. People caught on to it, and momentum grew until the Raptors started marketing the slogan in a direct effort to get Ross into the Dunk Contest.

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"It's the first time anyone's put a hashtag with my name on it," he told CNBC while in New York earlier this week. "At first, I thought maybe I'll see it once or twice. But the bigger it got, it was like, this is great.

"It was just an honor and kind of surreal that its happening to me."

When asked if he knew where it all began, the shy Ross did not have an answer.

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"I have no idea," he said. "It might have been the announcers?"

Nope.

It was Jay Satur, a blogger for the team. He started it, and the team ran with it, putting it on posters and marketing Ross all the way to China, where his web video was viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

"Every time I got a dunk, that's the first thing the announcer would say ("letrossdunk")," Ross said. "It started getting bigger, and people started tweeting me."

And it worked.

After being selected to be in one of the marquee events of the weekend, the marketers shifted gears and made the hashtag: #rossshalldunk.

It has turned a quiet player — toiling in Canada on a losing team — into a known entity, begging the question whether he'll try and cash in on his Twitter momentum.

"It's still all kind of happening still," he said. "I'll probably see something in the next couple months, hopefully."

"It's helping me get my name out there, establish myself in the league. I think this has just been one big positive thing for me."

Terrence Ross
Getty Images
Terrence Ross

Ross admitted he wasn't that positive on Twitter before this, but now, the man whose handle is @T_DotFlight31 feels much different about social media.

And he's using it to do good as well, promising to donate $2,000 to cancer non-profits for every round he advances in during the contest.

How about that contest?

Ross wouldn't divulge dunk specifics.

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"I've been working on it after every practice," he said. "I'm trying to put my own twist on different things, trying to do something I haven't done before."

That would be fitting, since this is something that hasn't been done before: A hashtag campaign landing a player with a starring role on All-Star Weekend.

—By CNBC's Brian Shactman; Follow him on Twitter: @bshactman

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