Unfortunately for Consor, and anyone who prefers to take a break before breathing fire, LeBron James beat them to it.
James tweeted his disgust after he watched an 18-second clip of Consor describing how Houston Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. “like his dad” had “pulled that trigger right at the right time.” James assumed it was an out-of-pocket joke about Porter’s father, who had pleaded guilty in the shooting death of a teenage girl in 1993.
“Oh he thought this was cool huh!!?? Nah we ain’t going for this! Sorry but this ain’t going to fly! How insensitive can you be to say something like this. Beat it man! I pray for you but there’s no place in our beautiful game for you!”
This rubber stamp retweet turned a short video clip into a national story. By greenlighting the stampede, James had decided, with brisk clarity, that Consor no longer belonged in basketball.
About 90 minutes later, Consor responded and apologized for mistakenly thinking that the young player was the son of former NBA player Kevin Porter, who played for Washington and several other franchises through the 1970s and ’80s. By that point, however, Consor’s regret could only temper the flames, and where anger and revenge rushed in, reason and grace lowly scampered away.
There was no waiting for context, because giving the benefit of the doubt takes too much time. Especially when likes, retweets and follows are at stake. Anyone with a social media following who wants to be taken seriously must render judgment swiftly and loudly. Otherwise something really bad could happen, such as someone else’s tweet garnering more responses.
That is why on Thursday, few people took a beat and asked why a paid analyst would risk his livelihood to shoehorn a callous reference to a murder into game commentary. Even fewer people reasoned that Consor’s words — though they showed a lack of preparation and little knowledge about an opposing player in the league he covers — were more likely a result of name confusion.
Loose lips are no match for Twitter thumbs, and with James leading the charge of the rapid-fire reactionaries, Consor was cooked before some of us could finish our morning coffee.
While filling in for Drew Gooden, the Wizards’ regular color commentator, Consor has tried to bring his eccentric personality to the television side. His role is to illuminate the finer points of the game but also entertain as the kooky sidekick to the strait-laced play-by-play man. The shtick has worked at times — with Consor and Chris Miller waxing poetic about fish grease — but not always.
During the Dec. 28 broadcast, Consor made a convoluted reference about undrafted players.
“Undrafted might be the new term,” Consor said. “That’s the new n-word: ‘Oh I was undrafted.’”
Except Consor didn’t mean “n-word,” he would later try to clarify in the game: “When I said the term, the ‘in word.' In. I-N word. Non-drafted, right? That’s what we’re seeing. Undrafted guys, Chris. They’re developing into players.”
The strange phrasing — he might have meant “in crowd” because literally no one says “in word” — caught the attention of a few Twitter users but quickly died a quiet death. Consor helped himself with the in-game explanation, but the major difference between that night and the Jan. 5 Wizards-Rockets broadcast: No one on Twitter isolated that clip. And it never circulated far enough for someone such as James to pick it up.
James has almost 51 million followers on Twitter, a legion of fans, media and trolls. If words are a powerful weapon, then his can detonate anytime he opens his phone. Whenever James tweets, the news cycle takes notice, then bends to his will. He is that significant as a 21st-century icon, and this kind of influence keeps reminding us that he is “more than an athlete.” Which is why his important thumbs shouldn’t always be so quick on the draw.
It was a reckless power play when King James flicked his wrist and demanded that Consor be gone after making a senseless but honest mistake. James would say later that he did not call for Consor’s job, but that’s exactly what the biggest superstar in the NBA meant when he typed “there’s no place in our beautiful game for you!”
Consor’s apology did little to assuage his ire because instead of extending forgiveness, James doubled down with an impassionate soliloquy, supplied with bullet points, saying he was not buying the excuse that Consor was unaware of the tragic backstory of the 21-year-old visiting player. And by saying a common but regrettable phrase for a basketball player taking a jump shot — “pulled the trigger” — Consor was still guilty.
“What he said, no matter if he thought that that was his dad or not, was so insensitive and the words that he used — we know the words that he used, I don’t even want to repeat it — it’s not even something that should be ever said,” James said, according to ESPN.
James is the same person who on Dec. 15 referred to Los Angeles Lakers teammate Austin Reaves as “AR-15” after he hit the game-winning shot against Dallas. But that never made national headlines because no one with 50 million followers tweeted fake outrage over the assault rifle nickname.
Fortunately for James, and for anyone who prefers to look past cringeworthy but ultimately innocuous verbal slip-ups, Twitter took a breath then. The same courtesy, however, was not extended to Consor. His blunder and later confession forever will be attached to his reputation, all because social media just couldn’t wait.