Theater fans are still abuzz about Hamilton‘s appearance on Disney+, so much so that the mention of a retired basketball player named Rip Hamilton caused some considerable confusion on social media. Or at least that’s the best working theory anyone can come up with after the phrase “Rip Hamilton” trended on Saturday and confused a lot of different sections of the internet.
Hamilton‘s streamable version first appeared on July 4 weekend in the United States and saw a surge of people signing up for the streaming service and tweeting about the show’s movie format. For many fans, it was the first time the show’s critically-acclaimed soundtrack came to life, and the reaction to seeing it in motion was a huge social moment. According to a Hollywood Reporter story about the rise of big streaming movies gaining viral buzz, people on social media tweeted about Hamilton two million times on the holiday weekend, three times what the buzz of its Broadway debut in 2015 garnered.
But that attention caused a lot of trouble when people started tweeting “Rip Hamilton” and no one could quite pinpoint whether it was because of some news about the show, the basketball player Rip Hamilton, or merely people noting the anniversary of Alexander Hamilton’s duel with Aaron Burr, which eventually killed him a day later.
Live look at basketball fans, theatre kids, and historians after seeing that Rip Hamilton is trending: pic.twitter.com/VQ3zKisisI
— Ben Parsons (@BenParsons7) July 12, 2020
Given the intense interest and scrutiny of any and all Hamilton content, the confusion is understandable. And there’s a somewhat interesting history of entertainment fans not into sports completely unaware of, say, a character on The Good Place‘s favorite quarterback actually existing as a real human being. Because a lot of people had no idea Rip Hamilton was a fairly famous athlete.
Finding out "Rip Hamilton" is the name of the basketball player and not in reference to the 216th anniversary of Alexander Hamiltons death on July 12th is the oddest coincidence BY FAR
— Mary (@MaryInTheStars) July 11, 2020
— Tricia (@Tricia_AR25) July 11, 2020
Theater kids seeing RIP Hamilton trending not knowing it's a basketball player 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/vfYn7YgL5p
— StopitSIH (@StopitSIH) July 11, 2020
me seeing rip hamilton trending and realizing its the name of a sports guy and not people talking about musical theatre pic.twitter.com/ZzT9BtQyUZ
— julY 23, 1D REUNION (@jtillz98) July 11, 2020
Hamilton, of course, played for three NBA teams from 1999 to 2013 and won a title with the Detroit Pistons in 2004. He’s beloved for his play with that Pistons team and for his decision to wear a mask the remainder of his playing career after breaking his nose twice during that championship run. If the trend started because of him, it’s likely because of this ESPN tweet about masked players, of which Rip is pretty clearly the most iconic and thus may have prompted a lot of responses with his name in them.
Rip, to his credit, also claimed that he wore it best.
— Rip Hamilton (@ripcityhamilton) July 12, 2020
Some people were even worried that Rip Hamilton had, you know, died.
My dumbass thought rip Hamilton died… not knowing his that’s his real name… pic.twitter.com/9KvuMEgvUp
— Ashadé (@Nyiah0) July 11, 2020
To non-hoops fans, though, the confusion is understandable. “RIP” along with the name of a thing often trends on Twitter when it is widely discussed, usually when something scandalous happened and some are attempting to “cancel” it, so to speak. Which is why many theater fans and perhaps some denizens of Canadian cities on Lake Ontario were confused when “Rip Hamilton” was trending on Twitter on Saturday night.
shit.. saw RIP Hamilton trending & thought Burr shot him again. pic.twitter.com/giKRbOWUGz
— Scott Springer (@scott_springer) July 11, 2020
Saw RIP HAMILTON trending ,
that happened July 11, 1804. pic.twitter.com/OPNjxNFX5s
— Kevin G Shinnick (@shinnick_g) July 11, 2020
There are, of course, a considerable number of basketball fans who are also aware of the musical Hamilton, so the middle of that Venn diagram isn’t exactly the product of an obscure pairing. Those in the middle were far from confused Saturday night, but perhaps amused that a plastic mask-wearing former Piston got a lot of theater folks worried about Lin-Manuel Miranda for a little bit.