Among the many fraught relationships in LeBron James’ life at the moment (looking at you, Kevin Love), his relationship with Twitter might just be the most dysfunctional.
On Monday afternoon, sometime before he posted his 41st-career triple-double to push the Cavaliers past the Nuggets in Denver, James made the curious decision to unfollow the official Cleveland Cavaliers account on Twitter.
Because this is LeBron James, the move caused a firestorm. Was his decision to unfollow the Cavs a shot at the franchise? A sign that he’s leaning toward opting out of his contract this summer and leaving Cleveland … again?
After the game in Denver on Monday night, a reporter reluctantly did the inevitable and asked James why he had unfollowed the Cavs on Twitter. The entire interaction was awkward: James was visibly annoyed, stuttered through a non-answer, and eventually just said, “next question.” One question later, he ended the media session rather abruptly.
So LeBron was asked about reportedly unfollowing the Cavs…
At first glance, James looks peeved that someone would even ask him a question about something this innocuous. But James is the most scrutinised athlete alive, and he undoubtedly knows that everything he does — even something this mindless — will become a story.
Plus, if you’ve been following the Cavs at all this season, you know that this isn’t James’ first Twitter move that had people shaking their heads. Earlier in March, James sent out a slew of cryptic tweets that many interpreted as a subliminal message to his teammates.
James eventually cleared the air about his bizarre Twitter antics, simply saying he was bad at social media. And perhaps this latest incident involving the Cavaliers’ account can be chalked up to similar social media ignorance.
According to Cleveland.com, however, James unfollowed his team’s account because he is starting to prepare for the playoffs. As that same article noted, there is precedent for James changing his social media policy before the playoffs. Every year, he posts an all-black screen to each of his social media accounts to indicate that he is quitting social media to focus solely on the playoffs — an action he refers to as Zero Dark 23.
On Monday, the Cavaliers organisation reportedly found out that they had been unfollowed by James almost instantaneously, and unsurprisingly they weren’t pleased.
Needless to say, it’s been a peculiar year for James and the Cavs. The front office fired David Blatt after a 30-11 start, just one year after he had helped them reach the Finals in his first season as an NBA coach. The Kevin Love saga trudges on unresolved, and it seems quite likely he’ll be in a different uniform next season. Meanwhile, the team is 50-30, the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and the heavy favourites to reach the NBA Finals. James is putting up reliably great numbers. If nothing else this team will go down as the greatest dysfunctional team in history.
As of Tuesday, James hasn’t re-followed the Cavs on Twitter. It goes without saying that this latest controversy is silly. And, fittingly, that it happened on Twitter’s 10th birthday.
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