The most well-known moment in athlete social media shenanigans came in 2013, when then-Knicks guard J.R. Smith asked an unknown Twitter user who was attending that night’s game if she wanted to “get the pipe.” Smith came out of that situation looking pretty gross, even if he did manage to have a sense of humor about the entire thing.
The good news is that Smith took that situation as a learning moment, according to a story published on ESPN.com about the way athletes handle themselves on social media. There was a lengthy section on the possible issues that can pop up for athletes if there are problems with direct messages, and Smith’s pipe tweet was used as an example.
The more common class of disaster-by-DM involves a violation of privacy on the part of the recipient. There’s a name for it. “The screenshot,” says 76ers rookie Jahlil Okafor, which has been making athletes nervous since at least 2013, when now-Cavs guard J.R. Smith, the crown prince of digital dumbassery, made a metaphorical plumbing tweet. (Just Google it.) “I was very immature and stupid,” Smith says. “But I learned from it too: Watch what you say on social media.”
Considering that Smith has managed to stay out of trouble on social media since this incident, it’s safe to assume that these words aren’t hallow. Of course, every athlete can stay out of trouble on Twitter if they just remember to follow rule No. 1.