Twitter becomes a frothy cascade of takes, memes, trash talk, and GIFs during an NBA playoff game. A Giannis Antetokounmpo dunk, for example, sends shockwaves across fans’ feeds. Context-free, alphabetically jumbled howling (e.g., adfashfaksjdfhakldfh) is followed by videos of the highlight itself, which then yield to a hodgepodge of jokes and a sprinkle of sincere analysis. All these kernels percolate and fizz until the next noteworthy play, at which point the process begins anew. Then, hours after the final whistle, Magic Johnson logs on to provide his perspective.
When Johnson stepped down from his position as the Los Angeles Lakers’ president of basketball operations in April, he mentioned his Twitter account, among other factors, as a reason for this decision. Johnson loves to tweet bland platitudes, and he saw the league’s tampering rules—which discourage executives from talking about players under contract—as a barrier standing between him and something he loves. “I thought about Dwyane Wade retiring and I can’t even tweet it out,” he said during his impromptu resignation announcement. (To be clear, there are no rules preventing anyone from tweeting about a player’s retirement.)
Johnson’s basketball tweets are all simple, expository recaps of a game or a player’s performance. As Deadspin’s David Roth put it, Johnson “posts with all the gleeful dorky comfort of a grandparent signing their name at the end of a Facebook comment.”
If you leave your position in an NBA front office because you want to tweet more, then you’re putting a lot of pressure on the quality of your Twitter account. As a result, Johnson and his remarkably benign feed have been subjected to a torrent of gleeful jokes. But something occurred to me on Monday night when I came across Johnson’s tweet about the Warriors-Rockets game. James Harden had just scored 38 points and … you know what, I’ll let Magic explain it.
What stood out about his tweet was the fact that the tweet stood out. Magic’s earnest assessment of the series was one of the only things in my feed that didn’t assume anything of its audience. There was no need to scroll back and discover some key bit of context to which I hadn’t been privy. And, unlike 90 percent of all tweets nowadays, I didn’t have to be familiar with a premium cable drama in order to understand it.
Who is this person? Where is she walking? Seriously, why is everyone tweeting like they are Martin Prince?
HBO has 142 million worldwide subscribers, meaning there are more than 7 billion people who have no idea what those Game of Thrones references are supposed to mean. Magic Johnson’s tweets may not be funny or clever, but at least you don’t have to pay $15 a month to understand them.
Imagine if everyone tweeted like Magic. Sure, the platform would be extremely boring, but at least it would be full of concise, factual information. Twitter’s hate speech epidemic would be cured instantly, as Magic has never written a single disparaging word against anyone. His feed is like finding a perfectly preserved birthday card inside a clogged toilet, and we should celebrate his willingness to be pleasantly dull. Best of all, though, is that if everybody tweeted like Magic then there would be no need to check Twitter all the time. There’s a word for that scenario, and it is bliss.
Me neither, Magic. Me neither.