Since emerging from relative obscurity and growing into one of the social media big boys, Twitter has given fans and reporters an unprecedented level of access to celebrities online.
Twitter interactions stand out because they're instantaneous little thoughts composed by athletes, rather than the standard-issue PR crap offered up by their handlers. Both uniquely intimate and constrained, it allows athletes to personally interact with fans, but with an audience of millions.
Cheesed-off fans, trash-talking rivals and people who just like being mean now have the ability to flood an athlete's world with the kind of muddled, enraged outbursts that used to be confined to bars and living rooms only.
Irrational outrage is now conveniently packaged in 140 poorly constructed characters or less and delivered directly to the source. Generally it's more a curse than a blessing.
It's a well established fact that you don't negotiate with terrorists—it only reinforces bad behavior. Which is why most athletes choose to take the high road (or maybe the path of least resistance) and ignore people who are blatantly trolling.
Of course Twitter wouldn't be any fun if they all did that! Thankfully there are plenty of athletes out there who are willing to take the abuse as long as they're allowed to dish it out too.
Here are a few guys who know how to deliver a digital dis.
I realize that Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has his share of detractors—in fact, he's got a lot of people's share of detractors. Which is fair. As far as QBs go, he's pretty terrible.
I can't really say he's my favorite either, but that doesn't mean I feel the need to personally contact him and say terrible things. That's what psychotic people do. Psychotic people like YOUNGSTOWN4LI4E.
Recently that user (whose account has since been suspended) tweeted his best wishes for the Jets QB prior to the first preseason game. Specifically, he wished that Sanchez would tear his ACL.
Normally Sanchez responds to his throngs of bile-spewing critics with a big wall of stony silence, which is for the best.
But this time, he bit back, and his response was pitch-perfect.
Obviously former Laker Metta World Peace wasn't dissing Steph Curry earlier this year when he tweeted out that he thought the Warriors star was a top 10 player in the NBA and an MVP candidate to boot.
Actually, it was quite a compliment. Of course MWP sprinkled it with some accidental hilarity by calling him Steve...instead of Steph. Naturally everyone on the Internet jumped in to correct him—some in far meaner ways than the situation called for.
Seriously! He was just trying to give Steve a compliment.
Even Curry got in on the action after the fact, referring to himself as Steve. Nothing proves you're cool as a cucumber by getting in on the joke—most athletes take themselves way too seriously.
In January 2011 the Jets' most fertile cornerback, Antonio Cromartie, suggested the NFLPA get to steppin', stop complaining and just sign a damn deal that would prevent the looming lockout.
Then-Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck responded via Twitter, and in that sarcastic bald nerd way of his, he suggested that Cromartie was too stupid to understand acronyms. Or was it sarcastic? It's very possible that he doesn't know what an acronym is...
Honestly, it doesn't even matter. What matters is that Hasselbeck quickly learned a lesson about the perils of bringing a knife to a gunfight. Surely it was a lesson he won't soon forget.
Hasselbeck: "You're dumb."
Cromartie: "You're dead, chump."
(Oh. Side note! That is an artistic rendering of what Hasselbeck's tweet would have looked like...if he didn't immediate delete it and apologize...which he did.)
First of all! Phil Jackson used to play basketball before he coached it, so nobody go bananas and start lecturing me about the differences between players and coaches. Okay, now that we've got that out of the way...
Rapper Kendrick Lamar's recently released song "Control" mentioned the legendary coach, making reference to his comments about Kobe Bryant being uncoachable. The exact lyric: ”If Phil Jackson came back, still no coachin’ me. I’m uncoachable, I’m unsociable.”
Jackson just couldn't fight his natural coaching urges and dispensed a little fatherly advice to Lamar via Twitter. Perhaps not realizing the full scale of all these newfangled technologies and surprised by the attention, Jackson then felt the need to explain himself.
I don't want to live in a world where Phil Jackson has to explain himself to anyone. He's PHIL F&@%*&$G JACKSON.
Dwight Howard is a socially awkward public relations disaster. He was desperate to avoid looking like a LeBron James-style villain in free agency, but he botched it so badly that he ended up far more hated than LeBron ever was.
Which, as you can imagine, has earned him a dedicated chorus of trolls online.
I'm going to be real here and say right up front that I do not like Dwight Howard. That being said, I have no problem with athletes giving it back to "haters" (it's in quotation marks to emphasize how stupid and overused I think that word is) on Twitter.
So when Ms. Brittni mocked the fact that he'll never win a championship, I was pretty amused when Howard turned the tables on the ring issue. Then I was really amused when she turned them right back and (figuratively) slapped him in the face for even bothering in the first place.
It's like when someone smugly declares "UNO!" after throwing down a "Draw 4" and then you draw two "Draw 4's" a "Skip" and a "SUCK IT!" card.
This is why you shouldn't challenge athletes to theoretical competitions if you're: 1) stupid or 2) terrible with numbers. Learn from Ottawa resident Neil, who spends too much of his free time on Twitter needlessly harassing Nathan Boyle, a teenage hockey player.
In July, Neil was obviously feeling competitive because he decided to speculate on what would happen if he were ever to face Boyle in net. What would happen is this: Boyle would take 1,000 shots. Someone named "is" would save 9,990 of those shots. And Boyle would only miss 10.
Neil quickly deleted that tweet, perhaps after realizing he proved himself to be the dumbest human being on earth. Thankfully Coyotes forward Paul Bissonnette was there to save the day by saving that tweet. Now Neil's stupidity can live on forever.
Proving once again that BizNasty is one of the most amazing people on the interwebs.
This comeback is hilarious because it is, perhaps, the most unnecessary comeback ever. Recently wrestler Micah Miller innocently wondered how he should spend his time in Boston. Maybe it was rhetorical or maybe he was soliciting some actual suggestions.
Either way, the suggestion offered up by WWE wrestler CM Punk was of no help at all. Unless you're a wrestling fan and a hockey fan (like me), some background on this might help. You see...CM Punk is a hardcore Blackhawks fan. Miller was in Boston, which is home to the Bruins. And in June the Blackhawks beat the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final.
So Punk was just needlessly...needling...an entire fanbase with absolutely no provocation whatsoever. And it was his team that won! Whatever though...rude shmude. They don't call him The Best in the World for nothin'.
'Big Man' Dwight Howard's stint with the Lakers sure didn't end in happily ever after. Well, at least not for him in Los Angeles. But in the end it seemed that all parties involved (except for Lakers executives who were desperate to keep Howard) were happy with how it all turned out.
The Rockets got Howard. Howard got paid. And Kobe Bryant got rid of Howard, who had been a monstrously tall plague on his existence throughout the 2012-13 season.
Of course Kobe had the perfect way to say goodbye to his ineffectual former teammate.
After news of Howard's decision came down, Bryant tweeted out this Instagram photo of him and the only big man he will ever love—mop-topped teammate Pau Gasol. #Bros4Life
Golfer Lee Westwood was recently barraged with a Twitter troll storm after finishing a very unimpressive 13 shots behind the winner of the PGA Championship, Jason Dufner. He could only stay silent so long.
He responded with four moderately funny tweets, two of which were later deleted, and was sure to clarify that he was definitely not hacked. It was going pretty well for Westy until he signed off with "Westy out."
Unfortunately Westwood ruined everything by later apologizing to his sponsors and his true followers. He tried to act all big and bad about it, but the "true followers" distinction proved he was actually quite hurt. Poor baby.
Maybe he'll use this as inspiration to stop sucking at golf.
In June, Jimmy Kimmel Live did an NBA Edition of their recurring "Mean Tweets" segment. They had a number of NBA players and broadcasters read and respond to some of the most needlessly mean tweets about them.
Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Matt Barnes and Bob Costas are among those featured in the clip. A few of the guys had hilarious comebacks, while others just pretended to be wounded.
I know these aren't Twitter comebacks...but they are comebacks to statements on Twitter. Which totally counts.
Who hasn't wanted to stick it to know-it-all Bill Simmons at one point or another? I think we've all been there.
So you can't really fault Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for attempting to stick it to him last summer after Simmons tweeted out how underwhelmed he was by the play of marginally talented survivalist Chris Kaman, the Mavs' big free-agent acquisition of 2012.
Although, unless Cuban was going for deliciously ironic, he failed miserably. Kaman proved himself a more worthy adversary when he grabbed the reins for his new boss. Instead of bothering to defend his play to Simmons, Kaman wisely decided to go negative. "I hated you then. I hate you now. And I will hate you for all eternity. Good day, sir."
Or something like that.
Coyotes forward Paul Bissonnette knows how to bother people, and he does it very well. The key is mastering the properly toned response to each form of Twitter troll.
In the case of @macmurray, we're dealing with an irrationally angry loser who is prone to fits of CAPS LOCK and mainly utilizes Twitter to vent his rage at people who are more successful than him. (See: everyone on Earth.)
Can you even imagine being that angry because an athlete didn't want to buy an entire album? That's a heart attack waiting to happen.
The best way to respond to that kind of hostility is with sarcastic and condescending concern about his fragile state of mind and speculating on what, exactly, could be the root cause. As usual, Bissonnette nails it.
Say what you will about Texas A&M's rabble-rousing quarterback Johnny Manziel—if you can dish it out, this kid can take it. Everything he does makes news, and yet he hasn't altered his bad behavior one iota.
Why should he? When Johnny Football became the first freshman in history to win the Heisman Trophy in December 2012, everyone on Earth decided he was the best thing since refrigerated beer.
Leaving Manziel to wonder: "What took them so long?"
Who cares if a bunch of people on Twitter hate him? Oh, so the world's preeminent authority on college football, RATZINMYPANTS, thinks Manziel just got lucky? BOOM. "Tell me how my Heisman tastes." (Is something else he could have said...)
*Please excuse the formatting of that photo—the dimensions were such a B-word to work with.
It didn't take long for Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant to reach legendary status on the Twitters. He joined in January 2013 and officially made Twitter (along with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban) his b**** a month later.
You may recall Cuban rankling Lakers fans by suggesting the club amnesty Bryant after the 2012 season to save on luxury tax. The team quickly issued an official statement denouncing his remarks as "inappropriate," but Bryant issues his own statements.
As if placed on the schedule by the hand of God, the Lakers happened to be playing the Mavs shortly after the comments were made. Bryant scored 38 points and Los Angeles won the game 103-99. And his epic postgame tweet was the perfect punctuation to a perfect statement.
Kobe should really consider going into PR when he retires.
I just had to include this epic comeback by Master of the Twitterverse Jose Canseco. Now if you're wondering if the Amber Lee that jerkishly corrects Canseco's spelling and grammar on the regular is the same Amber Lee that is writing this slideshow—stop wondering right now. It is.
Writer of things by day. Canseco troll by night...and sometimes day.
I know it's really obnoxious, but like I said, he makes it too damn easy. Plus he always encourages me by responding with something hilarious. Seriously—the spelling bee thing? Canseco definitely burned me with that one. And then he threatened to hit me.
Another 'roid-fueled home run by Jose Canseco!
**If you want someone to correct your spelling and grammar on Twitter, you should follow me! Follow @blamberr