Stephen Curry is a two-time NBA MVP, a two-time NBA Champion, a proud husband and father of two, the idol of millions of adoring fans, a millionaire many times over and — perhaps most notably — by-all-accounts (including my brief and largely meaningless interactions with him) a wonderful human being.
All of this is to say he is a man who needs very little, least of all my coming to his aid over a mild internet controversy. But I am nothing if not a man prone to emotional outbursts in support of trivial causes, so here we are.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) July 30, 2017
On Sunday morning, a video surfaced of a dapper-looking babyfaced assassin doing what Kyrie Irving and I would call a pretty hilarious impression of LeBron James’ workout videos.
For those who don’t know, LeBron has gotten into the habit of posting Instagram videos of himself exercising. These range in content from 30 seconds of him balancing on a big ball while holding some sort of floppy bar clad in nothing but biker shorts and making emphatic grunting noises, to him simply dancing around a weight room rapping and rubbing himself while making faces. They range in tone from “as you can see, I take my physical fitness very seriously,” to “YEAH M____F____ WE OUTCHEA!!!!”
A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on
The video of Steph Curry — apparently at Harrison Barnes’ wedding, with Kyrie Irving laughing along — mean-mugging at an imaginary selfie stick and pumping his fist in an accurate-enough-to-be-funny LBJ impersonation was worth a laugh. The sort of impersonation I would do of one of my friends if they posted a stupid workout video. The sort of video that, for the record, has been made by countless fans and posted to social media with the hashtag #LeBronChallenge.
But then I look at Twitter — always a questionable decision — and apparently Steph has committed an atrocity, or at least violated one of the ever-increasing myriad of unwritten rules.
The commentary is mind-blowing in its inanity: fans (probably of the Cavaliers) whining about Steph being “petty” and “passive aggressive”; stoke-the-hot-take-fire media types talking about Steph’s “jealousy” and “lack of respect”; my personal favorite — a sports blog with 22.6K followers tweeted the video with “RT if you can’t stand Steph Curry” to a rousing response of 35 retweets.
At the risk of injecting some calm reason into a media landscape built on reactionary madness, let’s just quickly examine what we’re talking about here. One multi-millionaire athlete posts workout videos displaying a desperate lack of awareness. Another multi-millionaire athlete, who at the very least has common friends with the first and is likely rather friendly with him himself, makes fun of that video at a wedding.
A few years ago, television cameras caught me at the scorer’s table at Oracle Arena, stuffing my fat face with snack mix while Steph tied his shoes. Nevermind my ruthless friends, I still have complete strangers make fun of me for this when they meet me. If I voluntarily posted video of myself shoving food into my mouth-hole (which is to me what working out is to LeBron James) I would expect to be roundly mocked at weddings from Berkeley back to Brookline, Mass. And rightfully so.
If there’s one worthwhile unwritten rule of the social media age, it’s this: everything you do might be recorded, everything that is recorded might end up on the internet, everything that ends up on the internet is public forever and if you do something stupid, silly or even just sincere in public you will be mocked for it.
LeBron James knows this — and he still wore his Ultimate Warrior shirt to the parade in Cleveland, still made those Steph and Klay cookies and 3-1 jokes at his Halloween party, still makes loaded comments in most of his press conferences, still posts his workout videos.
Steph Curry knows this — and he still hopped on Richard Jefferson’s snapchat to yell “Waaarrrrioooorrrrs” at Kent Bazemore’s wedding, still trolled Luke Walton on Instagram after spanking his Lakers by 43 at Oracle, still took the LeBron shoes off a kid in a Curry jersey at an Under Armour event, still delighted Kyrie Irving with his LeBron impression this weekend.
Lucky for us, in the time of Twitter, this is the entertainment reality of sports entertainment: instead of overproduced hype videos like Michael Jordan’s Playground or Come Fly With Me, we get often surprisingly unfettered access to the actual lives and personalities of the actual athletes via Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and the like.
It’s a fine line for the celebrities — it’s easy to tilt too far to one side, either getting into trouble by sharing too much of oneself (Wilt never had to worry about his famous Stilt ending up on Snapchat) or turning off the social media consumer with over-considered marketing schlock — but those who walk it can reap tremendous benefits in popularity. Though both Steph and LeBron are big brand-names making well-considered marketing moves, they’ve both also managed to give us the impression that we know them as people.
The sort of public back-and-forth that has gone on between the Warriors and Cavaliers (between LeBron James and the combination of Draymond Green and Steph, mostly) is the perfect peripheral theater show for the modern sports world. That anyone would make it into an issue of personal respect, or jealousy, or any sort of real nasty intention is disappointing if not surprising.
Why not embrace the madness?
Will LeBron come back with a video of his own? Will Kyrie comment on his participation? Tune in to find out — NEXT WEEK on The Days of our NBA Offseason!
I don’t know what will happen, but I know it’s gonna be fun, as long as I know not to take it too seriously.
Matt Kolsky is a sports media professional (or something like that) and lives with an aging Shih Tzu/Schnauser mix in Berkeley. You can hear his podcast, The Toy Department, on iTunes or wherever else fine podcasts are free. Find him on Twitter @thekolsky to share your personal feelings about this article or any other topic, he will respond to most tweets that do not contain racial slurs.