Has a Europe-based basketball player ever garnered so much attention in one day on Twitter? Those who follow locked-out Denver Nugget/current Žalgiris Kaunas baller Ty Lawson on the ‘site watched for a span of two hours as a complaint about practice snowballed into a barrage of speed tweeting among Lawson, detractors and supporters.
The story went something like the following.
Chapter 1: The Complaint
“I coulda sat home and played NBA 2K12 and got the same thing accomplished that we did in practice smh”
This was the tweet that launched a thousand quips. In response, Sportalas quickly opined that “Seems Lawson’s days in Zalgiris are numbered. How pro can spend all nights tweeting? When does he rest? Negative inside tweets about team” while BBallWorld LTU hastily described the onset of the epic as “Another drama. That is why I don’t want to see any NBA players in Žalgiris.”
For a bit of perspective on this particular comment, however, BallinEurope turns to the ever witty Freaknick of Euroleague Adventures, who pointed out that “This @TyLawson3 mess stems from one giant misunderstanding: Ty was simply pointing out that 2K12 is an underrated teaching tool. I concur.”
Chapter 2: Wack (sic) Things
Lawson would come back with an attempt to quantify his apparent general discontent with his second tweet of the afternoon reading, “A lot of wack things happening[.]” One could almost hear the blood boiling in millions of Lithuanian bodies.
Indeed, Pranas_balsys, a Lithuanian basketball fan who apparently hasn’t so much as bothered opening his Twitter page since wishing Lawson a warm welcome to Žalgiris in late August, was moved enough to take on the American, declaring “U’re not satisfied in Žalgiris? So get a f**k out from Kaunas. We need players who could fight for team, but not complain.”
Shot back Lawson: “I would slap the shyt outta u if I seen u in person… I play hard every game”; this particular fortune cookie-length expression of anger got a half-dozen retweets from all over the planet, helping fill up Pranas’ 15 minutes of fame.
However, this fan backed down a bit later, tweeting around Unicaja Malaga-Žalgiris Kaunas tipoff time, “@TyLawson3 slow down. I just wanted to motivate u for da game. I want you to take it seriously being here tho.” BiE’s advice, particularly bearing in mind the final result of the game: When giving motivational speeches, be careful of the English you use. It’s a tricky language.
The rage clearly started rolling in at this point, with Lawson throwing it back: “@TheTadof: @TyLawson3 yeah, agree with @SwagginGedy just start do your job” and what’s y’all jobs… To shut up and watch us..so do ur job[.]”
Touché. Well, sort of. Lawson’s backers starting getting a tad more vocal at this point, with Casey_Pearson chiming in, “Poor @TyLawson3. Putting up with all these Euros that haven’t even touched a bball. Funny.”
Perhaps realizing the envelope-pushing going on, Lawson then exclaimed, “Woooo sahhh!!!! Said what I had to say now I’m good” – but he wasn’t.
Chapter 3: The Lithuanian Revolution
“funny thing…. i see all these lithuanian ppl starting to follow me…here comes the hate tweets…. in 3…2…1 lol…”
Did even three seconds pass before Lawson’s page blew up some more? Representatives of not exactly the high-end of the classiness scale apparently virtually piped up, for the player was soon noting that “this ridiculous… didnt kno racism still existed… might have to pack my bags”, ultimately going on to quell this speculation with “lol..i aint gonna pack my bags.. life in a another country is crazy as u can tell… im a tough dude..aint gonna run away from a situation[.]”
Maybe seconds passed before France-based Passionbasket definitively tweeted that “Le match d’ #Euroleague de ce soir à Malaga pourrait bien être le dernier de Ty Lawson avec le Zalgiris Kaunas.”
Inside Hoops would offer a bit of support, encouraging Lawson with “…Best to ignore 10, 20 or 30 idiots out of the 65,000 real fans of yours that follow you[.]”
Euroleague Adventures again brought the perspective, stating that “All this Ty Lawson tweetage makes me sad that Twitter wasn’t around to document the Iverson-Larry Brown love fest.” Meanwhile, basketball writer RobScott33 summed it up for many of us yesterday with “God I love twitter”.
Chapter 4: The News Begins to Leak
As does Lawson, apparently. Nearing the end of his tweetathon, Lawson wrote that “this is hilarious” while following up the pith with “thanks to all the supporters tho…”
By this point, however, the blogosphere was already hard at work in placing the brief bit of ranting into a framework of perhaps slightly exaggerated historical importance. Rafael_Uehara felt that “The @tylawson3 saga is a prime example of the issue with NBA players signing in Europe.” An embedded link on this tweet sends us Uehara’s article in The Basketball Post, which reckons that “These guys aren’t being prepared for what they are getting into.”
(Actually, BiE wonders if could anyone from this planet ever truly be prepared to play on a team run by Vladimir Romanov…)
Today, Lawson’s Twitter run is delineated along similar lines on NBC Sports’ and CBS Sports’ websites, among others, in an entirely rare bit of coverage for Lithuanian basketball from within the U.S. Most echo Uehara’s sentiments that most American NBAers are insufficiently prepped for the environment of European ball.
Chapter 5: The Final Word
Why didn’t Lawson’s last tweet get more publicity, then? Seeking to clarify matters before logging out, Ty made one final thing clear: “everybody thinks i have a problem with the new coach and i dont…were 2-0 since he started coaching…i care about winning not about stats[.]”
Telenet Oostende’s Tomas Van Den Spiegel got in on the festivities late, but scored high on the zingometer with his succinct scoop: “Latest update: Romanov fired twitter.”
Of course, the honor of having the last word in this tweet stream should be given to Simonas Baranauskas of LithuaniaBasket, who rightly noted that “If Lithuanian basketball had to be a TV show, it would definitely be a Mexican soap opera…”
Epilogue: Unicaja Malaga 85, Žalgiris Kaunas 78
And then it was game time. With many Lithuanians’ (not to mention Twitterers’) eyes upon him, Lawson turned in a respectable effort for the Greens last night, going for seven points and nine rebounds in the losing effort. Fellow (and less publicly disgruntled) American Sonny Weems contributed a game-high 21 points plus eight rebounds for the Lithuanian side.
Romanov offered no comment as to whether another coaching change might be in order.
And as for Lawson, bygones may be bygones; the player tweeted early this morning, “Take the good. With the bad…chipotle would make everything good” – So how long before someone links disappointing play by Americans to a dearth of chipotle…?
Tags: Denver Nuggets, Euroleague, Euroleague 2011-12, Lithuania, NBA 2K12, NBA lockout, Sonny Weems, Telenet Oostende, Tomas Van den Spiegel, twitter, Ty Lawson, Unicaja Malaga, Vladimir Romanov, Zalgiris Kaunas