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NBA Players Making a Mess on Social Media

Sean HojnackiFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2012

NBA Players Making a Mess on Social Media

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    Coaches and team management have a hard enough time getting NBA players to say the right things on the court and to the media, but in the world of social networks and Twitter, players now have a public outlet for their thoughts, taunts and musings 24 hours a day. For example, Drew Gooden's "ghetto Christmas."

    There are various ways to make an online mess for all to see. You can tweet out something embarrassing or you can taunt opponents and your former teams. Worse yet, you can call out a respected journalist and betray your own medical confidentiality.

    You can even type like a hardened criminal and send out a raunchy picture of a large caboose in a thong.

    Yes, social media is a fantastic thing, partly because you can watch famous athletes screw up their reputations so royally.

    I've ranked the disastrousness of each athlete's social media presence by their progressive outrageousness. Here are six players making a complete mess of things using only a Twitter account.

Damian Lillard

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    Portland Trail Blazers rookie Damian Lillard has a curious phobia:

    I like DC. I wana come back and visit the memorials even though I'm scared of statues

    — Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) November 28, 2012

    Hmmmm. I suppose Abe Lincoln is pretty spooky after all. Good thing for Lillard that he attended Weber State in Ogden, Utah, instead of Georgetown.

    Having been to Portland myself, it's fortunate for Lillard that there aren't many statues around the city. Although there is Portlandia, the second largest copper statue in the country after the Statue of Liberty. Scary!

    Lillard then clarified his fear via Twitter, stating that he's only frightened of "historic statues" like Martin Luther King Jr. This traces back to a "bad experience at the wax museum." In fairness, wax museums can be pretty scary (though they're not really statues, per se). 

    Jeff Zigglitt of USA Today scored an interview with Lillard to pursue the matter further. Lillard went into detail about the spooky wax museum experience:

    The last room was Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln—all these big-time historic people, and it looked just like them. Same size. They had music playing in the room to set the mood, and it just threw me off. Ever since then, I'm done. Even at Lake Oswego [near Portland], I drive past the cemetery, and there's a statue of Jesus with his hands up. That even scared me. I don't mess with statues no more.

    Well, so much for never letting them see you sweat. His secret is out. But other than that, Lillard has been a model citizen on Twitter, commenting on modern grammar, defending Dwight Howard, brushing off criticism from armchair point guards and noting his excitement at meeting both Flavor Flav and Andrew Luck.

    He also has enough sense to take a break from the Twitterverse, though he can't survive more than half a day before telling his tweeps that he's been watching Martin all day.

JaVale McGee

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    You can file this one under "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."

    After coming to the Denver Nuggets in a trade and signing a four-year, $44 million contract, JaVale McGee wanted to give back to his fans and break bread with them.

    Back in September, he invited 10 fans to join him for burritos at Chipotle. Good idea, right? The problem: Only one fan showed up (per Mile High Sports).

    Granted, he only gave fans about five minutes of notice, so chalk this one up to poor planning.

    At least he did treat one fan, Andy Mathisen (aka @3st0andrew3, self-proclaimed fan of the Broncos and Jayhawks, although no mention of the Nuggets), who tweeted his thanks.

    McGee also took a photo with the fan and posted that on Twitter, but for some reason he deleted that photo and the initial tweet (perhaps due to the failure of his lunch invitation which went semi-viral). In fact, it seems that McGee deletes all his tweets, as the only thing on his timeline are retweets. Perhaps he needs a Twitter tutorial.

    At least Mathisen shared the picture with pride.

    Kudos to McGee's fighting spirit, however, as he issued another invitation to his tweeps to grab lunch at Noodles and Company the very next day (he has since deleted that tweet as well, but Yahoo! Sports has a screen grab of it). And this time, he gave fans a few hours of advanced notice.

    This should have been easy for Mathisen to find, as the noodle joint is located directly next to the ill-fated Chipotle. McGee also appears to have bought two people 24 donuts in late September.

    Perhaps McGee could learn a lesson or two from unemployed NFLer Chad Ochocinco nee Johnson, who succeeded in treating 200 of his Twitter followers to a slap-up feast of soul food at the famed Sylvia's in Harlem. Although, that outing cost him $8,000 that he probably could use right about now.

Drew Gooden

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    Drew Gooden is a weird dude. I refer you only to his hair, or lack thereof. Exhibit one: the duck patch. Exhibit two: the spider beard.

    On Nov. 26, the Milwaukee Bucks played the Bulls in Chicago. And Gooden decided to get into a Twitter war with Bulls center Joakim Noah.

    Gooden told the hirsute Noah, who was dining on Chinese food that evening, not to "get the chopsticks tangled in your wig." After a reply from Noah, Gooden then challenged his followers to win free tickets by desecrating a Bulls uniform:

    Bulls fan Zack Krupp wasted no time in responding by quickly throwing his Kirk Hinrich jersey in the toilet.

    Too bad Gooden used to be Hinrich's teammate with both the Kansas Jayhawks and Bulls.

    Gooden honored his word and gave a pair of $115 tickets to Krupp, though he wrote that he "hated for it to have been Kirk's jersey."

    Oh well, he had a bit of fun, and the Bucks beat the Bulls 93-92 behind a strong fourth-quarter performance. The teams will meet again on Jan. 9, so keep an eye on Twitter for the next hilarious and insulting challenge.

Andray Blatche

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    Andray Blatche has found a home with the Brooklyn Nets after being amnestied by the Washington Wizards. The Wiz struggled to start the season, doing an excellent impression of last season's Charlotte Bobcats by starting off 0-12.

    But Washington nipped the defending champion Miami Heat on Dec. 4, so perhaps Blatche's old squad isn't content to be the punching bag he had hoped for.

    After the Nets' overtime victory against the New York Knicks on Nov. 26, Blatche tweeted, "Feels good to be part of a winning organization." The Washington Wizards were busy at the time losing to the San Antonio Spurs.

    Shortly before, Blatche asked no one in particular in the Brooklyn locker room (per NBA.com's John Schuhmann), "Anybody seen how the Wizards are doing?"

    Blatche proceeded to tweet a barely legible admission that while he was out of shape during his time with Washington, it wasn't his fault:

    To translate, he does not care what a Wizards fan says. Although he was out of shape, no one in the organization tried to help him get into shape. The Wizards should be ashamed of themselves for not calling Jillian Michaels. Obviously the practices and workouts just weren't cutting it for Blatche.

    Now he's in Brooklyn and looking svelte. He'll be reunited when he plays his former team on Jan. 4. Keep an eye out for some hard fouls. Or perhaps Washington should just give him a treadmill for Christmas.

Royce White

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    The Houston Rockets selected Iowa State's Royce White with the 16th overall pick in the draft.

    It was a risky choice, as White's anxiety condition had been well-publicized before the draft. 

    On Nov. 16, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski wrote an article about White. He said that White was not with the team during the regular season because he took offense to a lack of playing time in preseason and then unfairly blamed the organization for failing to adequately support his condition. 

    Wojnarowski—one of the most respected columnists in basketball—speculated as to why White would risk a career in professional basketball. After all, he was able to play college basketball for the Cyclones without such conflagration.

    Over a week after the article was published, White unleashed a barrage of over 30 tweets condemning Wojnarowski's piece. White accused him of "IRRESPONSIBLE JOURNALISM," and stated that he "wrote things that weren't true." The rookie also questioned Wojnarowski's lack of a source for aspects of the report.

    White tweeted out several quotes from the article with the declaration, "FALSE!" He also seemed to interpret the article as the author claiming that since White isn't an elite player, he shouldn't be afforded proper medical care, which seems an unlikely assertion for an elite sportswriter to make.

    The incident is unfortunate, as any psychological condition can be a murky and complicated issue to deal with. But resorting to Twitter as a response to a journalist's article (or to a contract dispute with a team) is unwise.

    White could have released a statement through his agent or penned on op-ed. Instead, he has made himself look like a defensive fool.

    White still hasn't played for Houston, and Wojnarowski still hasn't responded to White. And why should he?

J.R. Smith

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    J.R. Smith is a very talented player, but he's also a bit of a knucklehead. If you need proof, I refer you to the copious silly fouls he commits, including needless technicals, flagrants and personal fouls on three-point shots.

    He's the little girl with the curl. When he is good, he is very good indeed, but when he is bad, he is horrid.

    Despite it all, he is always entertaining. He frequently stays up all night engaging in flirtatious and volatile exchanges on Twitter. Or sometimes he just invites fans to go for a 2:30 a.m. bike ride.

    And Smith is no stranger to Twitter controversies. Back in 2009, he was sending tweets using spelling that emulated gang members (per Denver Post), which led to him shutting down his account. Briefly.

    In March of this year, Smith tweeted out a photo from his Milwaukee hotel room. It showed a young woman in a thong with a, shall we say, especially large posterior. Deadspin did a commendable job of chronicling the larger context of the back-and-forth on Twitter, including the young lady's indignation and Smith's boasting about it to her ex-boyfriend, rapper Joe Budden.

    That incident earned him a $25,000 fine from the league.

    In September, Smith spent some time flirting via Twitter with singer K. Michelle. The gossip website Bossip has created a slideshow of the exchange if you're interested for some reason.

    In November, following the Knicks' first loss of the season, he called the Memphis Grizzlies "fake tuff guys," though they actually seem really tough.

    And through all this, Smith's larger-than-life online persona has caused much consternation to a poor chap who is not a fan of basketball, but has the misfortune of also being named J.R. Smith.

    So much collateral damage. So many tweets.

    Note: Some links and clauses in the Drew Gooden, Andray Blatche and Royce White slides have been reprinted from my previous article, "Breakout Twitter and Instagram Stars of the NBA."

    twitter / <span class= Follow me. First person to tweet me a pic of an Eddy Curry jersey in the toilet wins my respect.

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