Wait, that’s not the real trophy …
When the NBA season ends, the real NBA fun begins.
OK, that might be an exaggeration, but not by much. The NBA’s off-season — its so-called "silly season" — has become a beast of its own.
And it’s all thanks to the internet.
Take this LeBron James tweet from Monday night. It’s not just a tweet, though — it’s a subtweet, which is the juiciest kind of tweet.
If no one appreciated you Griff I did, and hopefully all the people of Cleveland! Thanks for what u did for the team for 3 yrs! We got us 1🏆
— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 20, 2017
The "Griff" mentioned there is former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin, who surprisingly parted ways with the team Monday evening. But was James’ message really meant for Griffin? Or was it meant for Cavaliers ownership?
Here’s the story, which is worthy of a soap opera.
Griffin was instrumental in building Cleveland’s 2016 championship team, and James was reportedly taken by surprise when the team let him walk. As added context, James and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert have long had a rather tense relationship.
Meanwhile — and this is where it gets good — rumors and speculation have James considering a move from Cleveland to one of the NBA’s two Los Angeles franchises once his Cavs contract runs out next summer. Which is why James’ subtweet was SO DRAMATIC and drew dozens of responses looking to fuel the rumor, speculation, and innuendo surrounding his future. Could it mean he’s now more likely to leave Cleveland?
To be clear, people are speculating over James’ future next summer. A year from now! But rational behavior is not a hallmark of the NBA off-season in the internet age.
Let’s look at Gordon Hayward now. He’s a star forward for the Utah Jazz, but a very coveted free agent this summer. The Boston Celtics are among the teams with which he’s rumored to share mutual interest. So when his wife posted an Instagram photo their baby daughter in a shamrock T-shirt (a shamrock being one of the Celtics’ logos), Utah and Boston fans freaked out.
Hayward’s wife ended up deleting the pic, and even posted an explanation to calm the frothing masses. But then, a couple days later, two Celtics stars followed Hayward on Instagram. Just like that, the gossip and speculation was reignited.
Is this a billion-dollar business world, or a bunch of middle-schoolers screeching and squealing about who might take who to the 8th-grade formal? It can be hard to tell.
Plenty more NBA off-season internet fires are raging as well. Trade-rumors, demands by stars, inept executives — Sports Illustrated has a good roundup here. And who could forget the time DeAndre Jordan spawned the NBA emoji war of 2015? It was a seminal silly-season moment.
It’s so that even teams themselves — or at least teams’ social media managers — are sharing their pain with one another on Twitter.
Because what better way for a random fan to alter the NBA landscape by scheming up a blockbuster deal than by tweeting said potential deal directly at their favorite team? Like we said, rational thought is scarce this time of year.
Which is precisely why we love this time of the NBA year so, so much.