It's well established by now that being a prominent athlete on Twitter has a substantial downside. Any public failing (and the failings of athletes tend to be public) invites hundreds of thousands of Internet folks, emboldened by relative anonymity and ease of communication, to douse the athlete with whatever hateful balderdash they please, so long as it's under 140 characters. This came up a couple weeks ago when Jon Rauch of the Mets had a rough outing on the mound and broadcasted the backlash, retweeting all the vile mentions he received. It surfaced again over the weekend, when Amar'e Stoudemire (who hasn't even had the opportunity to fail in more than a month) took exception to a hostile remark and kinda snapped on his attacker.
On Saturday morning, Stoudemire shared that he'd just completed his morning workout. One of his followers replied with a somewhat nasty critique/command — relatively tame for Twitter, but certainly not something that this stranger would say to Amar'e in person. For whatever reason, that response (which, if you take a look at the guy's mentions, echoes a message he gets pretty much constantly) got under Stoudemire's skin and prompted a bit of an overreaction. Stoudemire responded via private, direct message with the following:
Fuck you. I don't have to do any thing fag,
Perhaps thrilled with his rilin' skills, the instigator promptly took a screenshot of the exchange and sent it to Deadspin, and now it's in the newspaper. The Post reports that the NBA will investigate the authenticity of the direct message, probably as a precursor to reprimanding Stoudemire for his words.
It should be noted that Stoudemire apologized profusely for his transgression later in the day. It's disappointing to see a guy like Amar'e — a typically benevolent fellow who uses the very same Twitter account to trumpet all sorts of inspirational rhetoric — to resort to a meaningful, awful epithet like "fag." This wouldn't have been nearly as troublesome, and probably not even news, if he'd just stopped at "Fuck you" or picked a better put-down (I would have gone with the tried and true "poopmouth").
It was an ordinary lapse in judgment and decorum, and one over which Stoudemire expressed genuine regret, so he's forgiven at least by this Knicks fan. To his credit, Stoudemire has dealt with folks like this much more reasonably in the past, but his best bet is to suppress the impulse to snap back. That's easier said than done, of course. A guy like Amar'e deals with stuff much, much worse than this attack (and he went Rauch's route to expose that fact later in the day), but there's little to be gained by engaging the faceless savages of the Internet. If you've gotta do it, though, go with "poopmouth."