An imgur user has dug up old tweets of NBA players, many of the messages coming before the player or Twitter made it big (hat tip: Kevin Draper of Deadspin).
Safe to say, these players tweeted differently before it became apparent so many people were following their every message.
Here are a few examples that stood out to me:
These tweets came before and early in Kevin Durant’s second season. One is directed at Russell Westbrook and the other is directed at an account that used to belong to former Michigan basketball player Anthony Wright, who played with Durant at Oak Hill Academy before Durant transferred to Montrose Christian.
If Durant used that language today, the uproar would be much larger. It’s simply wrong for people to use that f-word and gay pejoratively. Those words in this context fortify a society in which gay people are second-class citizens, i.e. beneath straight people.
Alone, Durant’s words – clearly intended for friends as playful teasing – probably won’t have much effect. But when people who look up to Durant emulate his words, the harmful effect is multiplied. There’s a reason gays commit suicide at a disproportionately high rate, and their inability to find acceptance contributes immensely.
If you recall, Kobe Bryant and Joakim Noah have both been fined for using a gay slur. When announcing Kobe’s punishment, then-commissioner David Stern said in a statement (emphasis mine): “insensitive or derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in our game or society.” But both incidents occurred on the court, Kobe’s directed at a referee and Noah’s at a fan. The NBA, especially due to the unofficial statue of limitations, can pretty easily ignore this if it chooses – and that’s probably the league’s best course.
Durant could probably ignore it too, and it would likely go away. I’m not sure many media members want the uncomfortable assignment of questioning him about five-year-old tweets.
But I hope he addresses it. Durant – who supported Jason Collins – has matured since he was 21, and he could his platform to champion personal growth.
On a far less-important – though quite interesting – note, Damian Lillard, between his junior and senior seasons at Weber State, tweeted several times at LeBron James during the 2011 playoffs (the year the Heat lost to the Mavericks in the Finals). Lillard deleted the tweets last night, but they read:
@KingJames please get yo ass out of “too cool” mode and takeover . PLEASE nigga!!! Damn!!!
@KingJames I may have been one of yo biggest fans. But THIS series u played like a straight pussy.
@KingJames talents to south beach? NIGGA!! You took the spotlight nd a ego. You left the talents haha. Them shits in Cleveland .
In case you’re wondering, the Cavaliers play the Trail Blazers on Tuesday. Somehow, I think Lillard is far more likely to be asked about his tweets than Durant is about his.