If you were a Jazz fan on the internet yesterday, you probably saw that image up at the top.
Actually, there's a good possibility you didn't. You might have seen this one instead:
The clickbait-and-switch, as readers would come to find out, is that Gordon wasn't talking about basketball. He was talking about League of Legends.
(If you don't know what that is, the short answer is that it's a computer game. I'm not giving you the long answer. That rabbit hole goes DEEP.)
Anyway, Gordon likes LoL, as it's known. And yes, it's probably safe to say, as he brags about in a post on his personal website, that Hayward is the best (only?) League of Legends player who also happens to be in the NBA. (Whether that's really a bragging point is something you can decide for yourself.)
That's not why the personal post is news, though. As a result of the LeBron-centric tweet (which has been retweeted more than 6,000 times as of 10pm Tuesday night), Gordon's website got so blasted with traffic that it crashed, leaving the context-less trash talk to stand on its own for several hours. That led to even more attention, including from ESPN (who were conveniently featuring Hayward on the front page of ESPN's NBA section for most of Tuesday -- more on that in a bit).
All of this, of course, is exactly what Hayward's PR partners at Athlete Interactive wanted. More than they could have hoped for, really. Shady tactics and hordes of confused NBA fans on Twitter aside, the end result was more eyeballs for their client. They kind of get the best of both worlds: they get "cheap heat" (to use wrestling parlance) from the suckers who didn't get the joke (or found a dead website when they clicked the link), and for those who managed to figure out the League of Legends context, it's either an endearing bit of personality or a groan-worthy (but ultimately harmless) switcheroo. Annoying some fans in the process is probably a sacrifice they'd gladly make again.
I don't like such PR practices, obviously. I don't like the deliberate deception involved, and if you try this sort of crying-wolf trick too much, you lose the trust of your audience, which is key on social media. Then again, looking at Gordon's Twitter, it's pretty easy to tell which tweets were written by G-Time himself and which were constructed by his representatives, so maybe fans aren't expecting the content to really be coming from Gordon.
I dunno. On one hand you've got this sort of clearly-manufactured silliness, and on the other, you've got Trey Burke's selfies. Which I only bring up to underscore the ways different attitudes toward social media can affect athletes. Go too lax and you get a Burke situation. Go too corporate and you get dishonest clickbait. (Though obviously, today's incident didn't negatively affect Hayward's image the way Burke's leaked photos may have. But some non-Jazz fans may forever assume that Gordon genuinely thinks he's better than LeBron at basketball.)
What do you think? Were you tricked into clicking on the LeBron image? Are you annoyed at the deception involved? Is it all just a joke? Have I talked about this too much now? (Yes.)
Too bad, I'm not done yet.
Kidding. I just wanted to go back to that point about Hayward being on the front page of ESPN's NBA section for most of Tuesday. (No, there's no doubt in my mind that Gordon's PR team knew he'd be on there all day and planned their shenanigans accordingly.) He wasn't there solely for the LoL blog post, though. He was there because he is the only Jazz player to break the top 50 in #NBArank, sliding in at #47. (In last year's #NBArank he was #90, by the way. Max money, eh?)
The more interesting aspect of ESPN's G-Time coverage, though, was this (Insider-restricted) piece from Kevin Pelton on Hayward's exposure to and belief in advanced metrics. A snippet:
4. [Hayward] shot an effective field-goal percentage of .471 when playing with Trey Burke, compared to .430 without Burke, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
KP: Did you notice things coming easier for you when you played with Trey last season?
GH: Yeah, and that goes back to spacing a little bit. With him being spaced out on the court, it's a lot harder for defenses to be able to shift over. It makes the person guarding him think a little bit more. If you make one skip pass to him and he knocks down that 3 -- or even if he doesn't, if he just shoots that 3 -- it makes them respect him. It opens up the pocket pass. It maybe opens up the drive with no help. So having Trey out there being able to knock down jump shots and be an offensive threat is huge.
One of the things I'm most excited about this season is seeing how Hayward's role changes from last year. With a more experienced Trey Burke, an explosive scorer like Alec Burks in the starting lineup, shooting punch off the bench with Rodney Hood, and improved offensive spacing from Enes Kanter, Hayward shouldn't have to carry as much of a load as he did last year. I'm interested to see how he applies last year's experience to this year's roster. I don't expect him to lead the Jazz in scoring average for the season -- I still think that'll be Burks -- but Gordon has a chance for a more efficient balance.
FanPosts! First up: MuJu (no relation to JuMu, apart from the nom de plume homage) shows some love for the "other" Aussie in Jazz camp:
What I didn't know until that night was that Exum was just a decoy. Exum, for all his "hype" and "ultra-high ceiling" and "star potential" and "unknown game" and "future of the franchise" media spin put out by our beloved Jazz FO, was brought from Australia to Utah for only one thing.
Or should I say, one MAN.
Next, its_computers takes a VERY serious look at the neverending debate between Gordon Hayward and Paul George:
i would like take an objective look at the oft-compared 9th and 10th draft picks of 2010, Gordo and Paully, respectively. i think we've seen enough from both players to see who is better at the game of basketball. i will assign points, related (roughly) to percentage differences, for different aspects the game.
Finally, Jordan Cummings shares a personal note:
I haven't talked about it a whole lot on here, because it's not really relevant, but this has been the hardest year of my life. Some of you may know that I got in a car accident in March. The accident totaled my car (which I was upside down on) and left me with herniation and two torn discs in my back.[...]
There are few things that keep me sane. Jazz basketball and slcdunk are on a short list of things that help keep my depression in check.
Read through that whole post and help one of our Dunk brothers out, if you can. Thanks for sharing, man -- thoughts and prayers are with ya.
Two quick videos to end on. First: Bill Simmons is free! Except watch his Jazz preview with Jalen Rose, and you might wish he was still suspended:
Here's a highlight (lowlight) reel:
0:26 -- "BYRON Russell"
0:50 -- Non sequitur about Vince Carter
1:10 -- Fanbase mindset = a clip from the movie "Rudy," which Jalen has not seen
1:52 -- NO BUT BILL SIMMONS WATCHED ABOVE THE RIM, TOO, HE'S ACTUALLY COOL
2:12 -- Single highlight of Rudy Gobert
2:34 -- Non sequitur about Keon Clark
2:50 -- Simmons doesn't like overpaying Hayward
4:25 -- Simmons talks himself into Hayward
5:10 -- Simmons wonders who has improved on the Jazz, clearly showing this was filmed before preseason
6:05 -- Dante Exum sucks
6:20 -- Marcus Smart is better
6:30 -- Marcus Smart wants to guard Dante Exum
Marcus Smart drinks Dante Exum's milkshake we'll come back to this
7:35 -- Unbelievably white kid from New York rapping about Steve Novak
8:05 -- "EEEE-ness Kanter"
8:10 -- "EEEE-ness Kanter"
8:15 -- "EEEE-ness Kanter"
8:25 -- None of the Jazz bigs can play together, ever
8:45 -- "EEEE-ness Kanter"
8:50 -- "Are we sure he's good?"
9:00 -- Kanter is not a starter on a 40-win team
9:05 -- Both Kanter and Favors are no more than "energy guys off the bench"
9:15 -- Jalen: "The Jazz need both of those guys to be 15-18 [points] and 8-12 rebounds." (Editor's note: Derrick Favors per-36 last year: 16 and 10. Enes Kanter per-36 last year: 16 and 10.)
9:30 -- Prolonged discussion about how Dante Exum sucks, featuring Simmons and Jalen in lab coats, whispering
10:05 -- Everyone drafted after Dante Exum is better than Dante Exum
10:10 -- Marcus Smart is better
10:13 -- Julius Randle is better
10:14 -- Elfrid Payton is better
10:20 -- "Why did we take this 18-year-old kid who looks like a baby" (Editor's note: Dante Exum is 19)
10:25 -- Dante Exum has no experience
10:40 -- Every rookie picked after Dante Exum will want to crush his face into murder-death
10:48 -- No but seriously Marcus Smart is better and upset that he's better and did Bill mention he plays for the Celtics
11:10 -- All the best guards in the league are better than Dante Exum
11:17 -- Dante Exum has no confidence
11:20 -- Dante Exum has no position
11:23 -- Dante Exum is Australian, though
12:00 -- The Triangle has noticed that Trey Burke and Alec Burks' last names are quite similar
12:08 -- They could be a law firm
12:12 -- They could have an ice cream shop
12:15 -- They could have a TV show
12:20 -- Names are funny
12:28 -- Alec Burks is better than Dante Exum
12:38 -- HEY DO YOU THINK ALEC BURKS IS MAD THAT WE MADE HIM A WHITE GUY
12:50 -- If the Utah Jazz were a TV show, it would get canceled
12:55 -- "We both like Alec Burks, but we will not tell you why"
13:00 -- Extended non sequitur about Karl Malone's elbow to Isiah Thomas
13:40 -- But Jalen's cool with the Jazz now because Howard Eisley
14:00 -- Remember that one time Karl Malone wrestled
14:25 -- The Jazz will not win 20 games
14:30 -- WEST
14:33 -- 23 games?
14:35 -- WEST
14:36 -- Home court tho
14:40 -- So maybe they win half of their home games
14:41 -- THAT IS 20 GAMES
14:45 -- MATH IS HARD
14:48 -- Okay, 23 games
14:55 -- Nobody in Salt Lake City stays up all night, ever, because, I dunno, curfew, I guess?
15:05 -- "All Night Long" music video
15:35 -- White kid rapping again
That was exhausting. Enjoy this clip from NBA 2K15's Career mode, featuring a digital, trash-talking Dante Exum to finish up (skip to about the 2:15 mark).