The great thing about coded insults is that they have a built-in plausible-deniability mechanism. As long as there is sufficient ambiguity involved, you can not only circumvent responsibility; you can sometimes pull off the rare rhetorical acrobatic feat of admonishing your accusers for trying to stir the pot and make something out of nothing.
On Monday, LeBron James continued his slow awakening from passive-aggressive hibernation to deliver a classic social media post that engendered all of his recent frustrations in a single meme while firing a shot at everyone and no one in particular. It’s one of his favorite tactics to deploy whenever he and/or the Cavs are in crisis mode.
His foils out West, of course, are on the opposite end of the spectrum, so when Draymond Green, one of his public rivals, caught wind of it, he couldn’t help but respond in kind. Except that in the immediate aftermath, Green has somewhat inexplicably gone into full plausible-deniability mode.
On the one hand, Green has a point about how he usually doesn’t shy away from insulting people directly, but in today’s pro-sports-and-social-media milieu, when so many of even the most minor actions are calculated and premeditated, it seems a little too convenient.
LeBron himself clearly took it as a shot and was quick to respond, so we’ll just have to wait and see where it goes from here. It’s quickly shaping up to be the front-runner for this month’s #pettyszn awards.