Last Tuesday, NBA fans saw a shocking message light up their smartphones and Twitter feeds. Utah Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward tweeted an image calling out four-time MVP LeBron James, predicting a “straight up annihilation” if the two ever met 1-on-1.
The response was so massive, it suffocated the servers of GordonHayward20.com, preventing some from being able to read the all-important attached to the tweet: a blog by penned G-Time himself entitled “The Best in the Game.” In it, the Utah star explains his lifelong affinity for video games, and his prowess at his current favorite, League of Legends.
In the piece, Gordon boasted that he could take on any professional athlete in LoL and come out victorious.
Thousands shared and replied to the tweet, and the responses varied from outrage to applause. Media outlets across the country picked up the story and chronicled not only Gordon’s words, but the reactions of those who read—or neglected to read—the blog.
ESPN’s Patrick Dorsey wrote on it and took readers through the mental order of operations that many went through after seeing the tweet.
“Guess that new four-year, $63 million contract must really be going to his hea–wait.
What’s that there link lead to?
Yes, as the headline here gives away, this was nothing more than a clever bit of viral gamesmanship meant to promote Hayward’s prowess at ‘League of Legends,’ reportedly the most-played PC game in the world.”
The folks at LeapFroggr.com used Gordon’s blog to teach their readers about what they call “link bait.”
“Name dropping other players in the content stirred up a lot of people. It was funny for some and it was probably offensive to fanboys but the point is, he got some emotions going.
People kept reading, thinking they’d see more trash talking.
And that got the content rolling and it got passed around organically because of it.
One more thing he did is to promote his content is to use social media.
He didn’t just tweet it out. He used an image that was also equally controversial.”
Mashable also picked up on the Twitter outrage that ensued after Gordon’s initial broadcast, sharing some typical reactions and also putting No. 20 in a category of his own for a made-up NBA honor.
“Let’s just go ahead and award the NBA trolling MVP award for the 2014-5 season to Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz. He’s earned it.”
The story also brought some joy to Fox Sports’ Kenley Young on an otherwise mundane preseason Tuesday.
“Gordon Hayward has a pretty good sense of humor — not to mention a pretty good idea of what will make Twitter flip out…Well done, Hayward. You win Tuesday’s Internet.”
Of course, it wasn’t just the sports world that enjoyed the blog. The gaming community loved it as well. And since video games and trash talk go hand-in-hand, the staff at HardcoreGamer.com shot a challenge Gordon’s way:
“There’s only one way to prove that Gordon Hayward is actually as good as he says he is:
A formal challenge.
We at Hardcore Gamer have staff members that enjoy every type of game imaginable, including MOBAs. If Gordon Hayward is ready to back up his assertions of greatness, our MOBA-playing staff would be happy to take him on. Here’s our Staff Page, Gordon, make it happen.”
Matt Moore at CBSSports.com had some questions of his own—not a challenge or a inquiry of how Gordon would attack Bron head-to-head. Instead he asked, “Hey, G-Time, what kind of equipment are you running?”
“My question is what kind of gaming rig he has at home. If you have that much money, are that committed to gaming, and travel that often, what kind of suite do you need to play at the optimal level? Hard to imagine him leaning over a laptop. You have to think it’s a custom set-up. He has to have had it built part by part, right? Nothing out of the box if you have those kinds of resources. These are the things that go through my head.”
Meanwhile, the media in northern Ohio remained focused on the court and Utah’s Nov. 5 matchup with the Cavaliers, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
LeBron James’ immediate thoughts might be on Friday night’s preseason game against the Dallas Mavericks.
Surely, though, James is thinking about the night of Nov. 5., when he will have to defend his honor.
On the other hand, Jazz media members saw it differently. Even after seeing G-Time come back to camp bulked up and ready to “bully” the competition this season, they also know Gordon the gamer, as Jody Genessy of Deseret News explained.
“That claim seemed to pair nicely with Hayward’s recent admission that his offseason muscle gain has helped him “bully some people a little more than I was able to.”
As un-Hayward as that latter quote seems, it was about basketball. The blog with the fun trash-talking was about a multiplayer online battle arena game, even if some people didn’t quite get that.”
As Genessy said, the tweets and the blog were all in good fun. And perhaps no one “got it” better than Dan Zinski of Lightly Buzzed:
” Gordon Hayward is not a troll. He’s not a delusional braggart. He’s just honest.”
Honestly, the reaction was fun to watch from all angles. So scroll through some of the best #BestInTheGame tweets, and check out an extended list of links at the bottom of the page and see what makes the internet so wonderful.
— Justin Beary (@NighthawkJB) October 14, 2014
— Joedat Esfahani (@Voyboy) October 15, 2014
— Follow this man. (@toocoolforwords) October 16, 2014
If Gordon Hayward claims to be the best League of Legends athlete, then I'm claiming to be the best Minecraft athlete. #NerdStatus
— Carson Hunter (@TheCarsonHunter) October 15, 2014
- Gordon Hayward says he’s better than LeBron…at ‘League of Legends’ (ESPN, Oct. 15, 2014)
- Gordon Hayward says he’d ‘crush’ LeBron James 1-on-1 (Mashable, Oct. 15, 2014)
- Hayward says he can take LeBron one-on-one…at League of Legends (CBS Sports, Oct. 15, 2014)
- Gordon Hayward is the best athlete in the world…at League of Legends (Hardcore Gamer, Oct. 15, 2014)
- Hayward’s challenge to James should make Nov. 5 matchup interesting (Cleveland.com, Oct. 17, 2014)
- Better than LeBron James? Gordon Hayward claims he is (Deseret News, Oct. 16, 2014)
- Gordon Hayward creates firestorm among people who don’t click (Lightly Buzzed, Oct. 15, 2014)
- Five reasons Hayward’s video game beef with James is funny (Examiner, Oct. 16, 2014)
- The Best in the Game: Annotated (Genius, Oct. 14, 2014)
- Hayward’s brag targeting LeBron goes viral (Fox 13, Oct. 15, 2014)
- Hayward experiences social media pushback (Salt Lake Trib, Oct. 15, 2014)
- Adam Silver should commoditize Hayward’s claim (King James Gospel, Oct. 15, 2014)
- Gordon Hayward says he can beat LeBron James 1-on-1 (Indy Star, Oct. 15, 2014)
- Gordon Hayward, video games and clickbait (SLC Dunk, Oct. 14, 2014)
- Hayward’s boast and the path to stardom (Salt City Hoops, Oct. 14, 2014)
- Gordon Hayward says he’s the “Best in the Game” (NBA.com, Oct. 15, 2014)
- SEO 101: What Gordon Hayward can teach you about Link Bait (LeapFroggr, Oct. 17, 2014)