LeBron James unfollowed the Cavaliers on Twitter.
A signal ahead of him leaving Cleveland in free agency this summer?
A passive-aggressive stunt to get the organization’s attention?
A slip of the finger on his phone?
We don’t know, because LeBron refused to answer a question about it:
Not only did LeBron say “next question,” he was so unraveled, he didn’t answer the next question – a softball about Cleveland dishing a season high in assists in a win over the Nuggets. If he didn’t want to throw fire onto what could’ve been an innocent situation, he did a terrible job.
Still, this could be nothing. LeBron, who recently said the Cavaliers weren’t ready for the playoffs, might just be trying to set that tone. After all, he famously self-imposes a social-media blackout each postseason.
James’ unfollowing of the Cavs was sort of a preamble, the source said. He’s starting to pare down some of the “noise” without shutting off his account entirely.
James didn’t just unfollow @cavs – the official Twitter account of the team for which he’s supposed to deliver a championship.
He also unfollowed Allie Clifton, the team’s sideline reporter for Fox Sports Ohio, with whom he’s had a cordial, friendly, professional relationship for two seasons.
James also unfollowed the Twitter account of Austin Carr, the Cavs’ in-game analyst for Fox and a team legend, whom James admires. He parted ways with the account of ESPN Cavs reporter Dave McMenamin, and NBA reporter Chris Broussard, and Sports Illustrated’d Lee Jenkins. It was to Jenkins whom James dictated his essay announcing his return to Cleveland in the summer of 2014.
In all, James unfollowed 14 accounts recently – he’s down to 153 from 167. According to the source close to James, most were NBA media types and basketball-related accounts.
That’s certainly believable. But why wouldn’t LeBron just say that? A simple answer along those lines would’ve quashed most doubts – including potential suspicions from within the organization and locker room – about ulterior motives.
LeBron knows how much attention his Twitter account has generated thanks to his spat of cryptic tweets in recent weeks. He can’t be surprised people want to know why he unfollowed the Cavs’ official account.
He also can’t find this too small to discuss. He has talked plenty about his annual playoff social-media blackout. LeBron likes the attention, and I say that without casting aspersions. He’s entitled to build his platform however he can and enjoy the adulation many are happy to provide.
LeBron also has a history of using his large profile to feed his passive-aggressive tendencies. It should shock nobody if this is another example. With all the attention LeBron receives, he knows how people react to clues about him.
Two summers ago, people freaked out about Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s plane flying to Miami and LeBron’s cars being shipped from his home there. For every person reading those tea leaves, someone said not to read too much into those events. Turns out, Gilbert was there to court LeBron, and LeBron – plus his belongings, including his cars – was leaving for Cleveland.
There’s a side of LeBron that enjoys controversy, and my best guess is he’s just eating up the attention this has created. Whether he intentionally unfollowed the Cavs or not, he might just be enjoying the resulting intrigue. Maybe the mute function would’ve been more graceful, though if he’s ditching social media in a few weeks anyway, the difference is merely optics. I tend to believe this is a minor to meaningless issue.
But if LeBron does something drastic and leaves the Cavaliers in a more meaningful way, you can’t say you never saw it coming.