When LeBron James speaks, people listen, at least in NBA circles. And when James posts something intriguingly cryptic on social media, people in NBA circles try very hard to decipher its meaning.
Such was the case starting late Monday, after James shared the “Arthur’s Fist” meme on Instagram, along with the caption, “Mood …” The meme is commonly understood to reflect anger or frustration, so what, everyone wondered, had him so agitated?
Some noted the timing of James’s post, just minutes after former Cavaliers teammate Kyrie Irving had scored 35 points and handed out seven assists to help the Celtics win their ninth straight game, 110-107, over the Hawks. Cleveland, meanwhile, entered Tuesday tied for 11th in the East with a 4-6 record, and speculation had already been abounding that James was unhappy with his old and defense-deficient squad.
Of course, James’s apparently bad mood may have had nothing to do with his team or the NBA at all. That possibility added a layer when it was reported that James missed the Cavs’ Tuesday morning shootaround to attend to “a personal matter,” although he was back on the court that evening, in a game against the Bucks.
In any event, James seemed eager Tuesday to portray a happier mood, as he posted a notably chipper message to Twitter. “Fresh day, fresh start! Make the most of it,” he told his nearly 40 million followers.
Later in the day, James returned to Instagram to clarify what he meant with Arthur’s Fist. He added that image to a collage of photos of himself balling his hands into fists — in triumphant moments — while saying in a caption, “Mood forever …”
That had the Internet reacting with a collective, “Hmmm.” James is a figure of great influence, but he can’t just decide that memes mean something other than what everyone else thinks they mean, can he?
It’s more likely that James posted the fist impulsively, then thought the better of it Tuesday, once he calmed down and saw the reaction it was getting. We will likely never know what provoked him to express his apparent anger Monday evening, but it joins the ranks of Great LeBron Moments in Social Media.
Those moments include James’s “Stop trying to find a way to FIT-OUT” tweet in February 2015, which many interpreted as a shot at Kevin Love, and his unfollowing of the Cavs’ official Twitter account in March last year. In any event, the “Arthur’s Fist” post drew a laughing-emoji reply from teammate Dwyane Wade, while another Cavs player, Isaiah Thomas, replied by asking, “Need me to handle somebody cuz?”
Then there was the Warriors’ Draymond Green. Always happy to troll a rival, he posted his own “mood” to Instagram, showing himself happily sticking his tongue out. (For the record, Green subsequently denied he was trying to troll James or anyone else. Just remarkable timing, right, Dray?)
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