On Twitter, @LoPerdue explained that LeBron James had just asked her to dinner at the cafeteria in the Olympics village. LeBron James approached Perdue when Team USA visited the swimmers.
According to Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer, James "took a liking" to Perdue.
“The basketball players were nice enough to kind of come out and meet the swimmers and take pictures," added Perdue. “[LeBron James] was kind of joking but he was basically like, 'Would you like to come eat with me at the dining hall?' And I said, 'Um, I'm sorry, I have a curfew.' So I turned that one down, yeah."
E! Online reports that swimmer Lauren Perdue had since deleted the tweet regarding LeBron James, but the damage had been done. Perdue had also added a photo to her Instagram of LeBron James that read “Oh heyy LeBron.”
While the Tweet had been taken down, the University of Virginia re-tweeted it, and can be found here:
So this hilarity was one of the most compelling storylines for the early half of the Olympic news coming out of the Olympic village.
But at the end of the day, I actually have an issue with this story.
Perdue, who helped win a gold medal for Team USA in the 4x200-meter swimming competition, is a 21-year-old girl with a Twitter account. She attends the University of Virginia and swam for them in the NCAA from 2009 to 2012. She’s an eight-time All-American, has won two ACC swimming championships and has been named ACC Swimmer of the Year.
So why should it matter that she was approached by LeBron James and casually rejected his dinner invitation so as to not be accosted for missing sleeping curfew?
In this article on Bleacher Report, Sam R. Quinn argues that Perdue should not be remembered for the LeBron James rejection.
“It's not as though she turned it down on her own accord,” writes Quinn. “Perdue had a curfew to adhere to and apparently would have returned back to her sleeping quarters late if she had dinner with James.”
The fact of the matter, however, is that it’s inevitable.
With the way that our mainstream media works, it’s impossible to Google the name “Lauren Perdue” without LeBron James stories coming up.
As far as sports go, the NBA is king. And as far as America goes, celebrity is king. Even more appetizing than celebrity is celebrity controversy. Keep in mind that LeBron James is engaged and has two kids.
These facts are the polarizing pieces of information to keep in mind that drive search-engine optimization and Google news.
As I explained in my article on the importance of social media in the 2012 Olympics, Twitter is increasingly important in and relevant to our news cycle. What the athletes are doing online will be defining factors in their Olympic histories.
With controversy surrounding all types of social media in these London Olympic Games, it should be accepted that Lauren Perdue has simply joined this force and will be remembered for the dinner invitation.
That's just what life is in 2012.
To Lauren Perdue: Keep your chin up. You’ve got a gold medal, you were a polarizing figure in the 2012 Summer Olympics, and you did absolutely nothing wrong by saying no to LeBron James. You were a valuable member of Team USA, you did your country proud, you got a chance to meet a major international celebrity, and you even made a story about it.
You just happened to have become a major media story in the process.