@BFerrelli is a Knicks fan and one of Stoudemire's 675,000 followers on the microblogging network. Stoudemire is a high-profile free agent who joined the Knicks in 2010 before battling injuries and hurting his hand in a one-sided fight with a fire extinguisher's glass case near the end of this most recent disappointing Knicks season.
After Stoudemire tweeted about a Saturday morning workout, @BFerrelli responded with this message:
About two hours later @BFerrelli posted this tweet, which included a screenshot of an apparent direct message from Stoudemire berating the fan with a gay slur and telling him, "I don't have to do anything." Because @BFerrelli follows Stoudemire but Stoudemire does not follow him, @BFerrelli would not have been able to respond to the message privately if he'd chosen to do so.
The tweet went mini-viral in sports media circles over the weekend and on Monday Newsday quoted an NBA spokesperson as saying it "will be reviewed" by the league.
The episode is interesting for a couple of reasons beyond its obvious trainwreck appeal.
First, there have been some high-profile recent incidents of American athletes receiving death threats from fans. San Francisco 49er Kyle Williams did in January, as did Los Angeles Laker Steve Blake in May. But Stoudemire's direct message shows that athletes, too, can be held accountable for ugly social media behavior even when they think it's private.
Second, Stoudemire's message shows that at least some athletes really do read and pay attention to all the stuff that's mentioned about them in the Twittersphere and they have reason to be sensitive. Stoudemire's direct message to @BFerrelli may have been a huge overreaction, but this heinous message from a fan that he retweeted the next day shows exemplifies why he (and other athletes) may be worn down by the peanut gallery on Twitter.
As for Stoudemire's review by the NBA, what his punishment will be is not yet clear. He hasn't formally admitted to sending the message in question, but subsequent tweets and direct messages between him and @BFerrelli essentially confirm its veracity. Lakers star Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 by the league in April after calling a ref a gay slur during a game, and Jaokim Noah of the Chicago Bulls was ticketed for $50,000 after directing a gay slur at a fan behind his team's bench.
What do you think Stoudemire's punishment should be? Do you think using such language via a Twitter DM rather than in person makes the offense any more or less severe? Share you opinion in the comments.
Thumbnail image via twitter.com/amareisreal