WARNING: This blog is written by a BIASED Celtics fan. I really thought that should be emphasized at the beginning.
Lebron James and Phil Jackson are similar in many ways. They both are two of the most recognizable figures in the NBA. They both have one multiple NBA championships (LBJ as a player, Phil Jackson as a coach and player). And they both apparently tweet and treat their peers like they are gossipy teenagers in high school. Here are the two tweets that each one of them said within the past month:
First we’ll rip into Lebron. Then move onto Phil.
*SEE WARNING* In fairness to Lebron, it is not like he’s exactly been the model of maturity in his career. Be it flopping around the court, whining about every call, or the infamous Decision, Lebron has proven that level-headedness is not The King’s strongest attribute. However I will say that LBJ is at a point in his career where he is now a veteran leader in the locker. He has the rings, MVPs, all-star game appearances of a leader, but he continues to lack the demeanor. This tweet is a perfect example of how Lebron may never actually be the leader that his teams need him to be. To put it in some context, in an early-season interview, Kevin Love was explaining his role with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He basically was saying that he has to stick to his own style and eventually it will work out and used the phrase “fit out”. Unfortunately for Love, his scoring and rebounding are down considerably this season from his career average, so naturally people are going to gravitate towards any comments made. Amidst a particularly difficult stretch for Love, as the Cavs were beginning to turn their mediocre season around, Lebron tweeted this out, clearly directed at Love. When questioned about the meaning by the media Lebron claimed the tweet did not have anything to do with Love’s comments. Following this, Love proceeds to have his best game of the season and in a post game interview Lebron now admitted that the tweet was OBVIOUSLY about Love and he was trying to motivate the slumping star. Hmmm so this is the actions of a leader? Tweeting out cryptic messages that your team are supposed to understand? If Lebron was a true leader he should have had a team meeting or spoken to Love one-on-one (for all I know he may have done this, but then why tweet at all?). In the end, hiding behind sneaky subtweets and then taking credit for when things happen to go right are not characteristics fit of a veteran leader.
In serious fairness to Lebron, he is just a player, only 30 years old, and is still actually growing as a leader. Phil on the other hand has been in the NBA since 1967. To put that in perspective, Lebron’s MOM was born in 1968. Phil has no excuses for lack of maturity. He is arguably the most successful coach in NBA history, winning an astounding ELEVEN championships with the Lakers and the Bulls. Pedigree aside, Phil has been involved in the league FAR too long to think that indirectly tweeting at his team is an effective motivation. His players do not want to have to check their phones and read that their play makes the President of Basketball Operations have heartburn. Phil has to understand that he needs to be in the locker room after their games. Tweeting about the team indirectly is basically the same as talking behind their backs. These are grown men! They can take it! If Phil Jackson wants to see results from his team, he needs to personally teach them how to have respect for their teammates, the Knicks’ jersey, and for themselves. What he does not need to do is tweet at them from his couch.
In conclusion, these two examples are microcosms in a society that I believe is growing a bit softer due to increased social media interaction rather than interpersonal interaction. The subtweeting culture that is emerging on social media is harmful for the society that we live in. It teaches young kids that they do not need to face their problems head on, and that by cryptically tweeting their feelings, everything will magically come out okay. In reality, this only creates more problems. When you subtweet at another person you are essentially saying that I do not respect you enough to say this to you directly. Ultimately this will only create more and more issues.