There's really no other way to put it. The account started during the Duke-Michigan game, and to date there are only 50 tweets. The first 10 or so are mostly re-tweets of players or other people associated with Duke basketball, with a couple "Kyrie sucks!" messages thrown in for good measure. Then she posted this:
@kyrieirving you are the biggest inconsiderate low life i have ever seen in my life!!!! thank God Elizabeth isnt here to see you!
Elizabeth Irving was Kyrie's mother, and she died before he was six years old. After that message, Kyrie started responding. He told "her" (I'll be using female pronouns for the sake of readability, though it's impossible to know who or what we're dealing with here) that she could say what she wanted about him, but not to bring his family into it. He used her twitter name, cluing in the rest of the world. He told everyone to read her tweets, presumably so they could all see the awful messages she was posting and rally to his defense. Several players and innumerable fans messaged him with support. Kendall Marshall said, "Keep ya head, bro."
DukeLvr1989 knew she'd found a soft spot. Being merciless, she began to attack the mother issue with tweets like this:
Kyrie can go to the league and make millions thats so great for him ... too bad it wont bring his mother back SHES DEAD DEAD DEAD
Around that time, Kyrie Irving erased his twitter account. You can't find him on that particular medium any longer. Then DukeLvr posted his cell phone number. Then she posted a picture of him shirtless. Then she threatened to post sexual text message conversations she'd had with him. Then she threatened to post "a photo of Kyrie Irving's dick."
These latest promises haven't been fulfilled, but it's easy to see why they were made. If Kyrie quit twitter, and stopped responding to the dead mother bait, the natural way to keep him invested was to inspire fear. Which meant threatening the release of pictures or conversations. It wouldn't be enough to just post them outright; to keep him on a hook, a real sadist knows to create anxiety by way of anticipation. What comes next? Impending doom is usually worse than actual doom.
Nobody knows why this twitter account was created. Common speculation is that Kyrie had some variation of a one night stand with her or one of her friends. That seems pretty logical, but it's also just a guess. She could be obsessed. Maybe she's never met him. Maybe she's an opposing fan trying to get under his skin. As I've said, maybe she is a he, or a they.
In 50 posts, Melissa Rodriguez has accumulated over 400 followers. An account called SportsByBr00ks, mimicking the website of the same name, followed her and encouraged her to post more. The internet, in all its labyrinthine strangeness, is creating confused cycles of attention and showering them back on the originator. Her impact, unfortunately, has been felt. We'll never know the extent, but it has taken some toll on Kyrie. It's easy to forget that he's a teenager who made a teenage error. His chief mistake was responding to her in the first place. It gave her a jolt of instant niche-fame, and led to his retreat from twitter. That, combined with the awful audacity of her message, has transformed this story into something "significant."
And it's something that could affect the team. Or at least Kyrie. And yes, I realize I'm contributing to the story by discussing it in this space. But frankly, I waited this thing out. I thought about writing something Monday, and I thought about writing something Tuesday, but I hoped it might die out. It didn't. It's only gotten bigger. For obvious reasons, people are fascinated. We're used to watching and considering these players as separate entities, human beings whose main function in our lives is to play a game. We can praise and criticize them, but it's difficult to imagine that we'll ever influence them, or interact with them in any but the most superficial manner. But Melissa Rodriguez, whoever she is, reached Kyrie Irving. She reached him with a profound, ugly kind of negativity. In a small way, or maybe even a big way, her actions will widen the chasm between player and fan, between player and media, and erode any last vestiges of trust that existed in the frail bond connecting the two.
Nobody, beyond the very psychopathic, thinks they're evil. That's one of the secrets of life. The Nazis thought they were on the right path. The men who flew the planes into the twin towers thought they were doing God's work. We're conditioned to rationalize and justify our own actions in an evolutionary process, ensuring that to a greater or lesser extent, we love ourselves and want to keep on living. Self-belief maintains us.
So. Melissa Rodriguez thinks she's operating from a place of righteous indignation. But as near as we can define something as evil, it has to be this: the continuous, conscious attempt to terrorize another person. It's a sick, corrupted power game, and it stems from a place of insecurity. If you strive for painful, prolonged control over another person, something in you is rotten. There can be no moral relativism in that regard; we're given a measure of freedom as people, and trying to take that from someone else is as near as we can come to absolute evil.
Melissa Rodriguez, I hope you read this. You're falling fast from whatever grace you believe in, and that's a critical mistake. Did Kyrie Irving sleep with you? Did he make a promise he couldn't keep? Sorry, but you're not the first girl to be left cold by an immature athlete. You're not the first to have your heart broken. Are you an opposing fan trying to create strife among the team? Believe me, any success you find won't be worth the price you've already extracted from yourself.
We all live with pain. That takes a long time to learn, but it's the truth; even the people we hate live with pain. I don't know exactly who you are, DukeLvry1989, and I don't know your motivations. But what you're trying to do is very, very common. You're trying to lessen your own pain by making life worse for someone else.
Take it from someone just a little bit older- this will not ease your burden. I've seen it a thousand times, and it never works.
Tomorrow, I'll be back to talk Arizona and the Sweet 16. In the meantime, a couple announcements.
1 - My friend Mike is running a fantasy baseball league. It's a keeper league, and he needs three more interested players. I'll be in the league as well. The draft is tomorrow at 8pm, before the Duke game. Send an e-mail to the address you see to your left if you're interested. Please don't join if you plan on drafting Robinson Cano.
2 - I think we need some comedy, right? Right. Thanks to Adam for cluing me in to this video:
Best part: 0:39.
3 - Here's something redeeming on twitter: Norm MacDonald. The guy could not be more hilarious, and it's not just because I read everything he posts in that classic, deadpan inflection. Nope, he's elevated his game; things keep getting weirder and more hilarious, and you never know what to expect. Lately, he's taken to posting these strange rhyming couplets, like so:
Kervorkain's a killer, Teresa is a saint. She is what I isn't and he is what I aint.
He's been doing okay in his bracket picks, too, considering the distractions of the world:
4 - It doesn't get much better than CNNSI's Luke Winn at the tourney. That was his Sunday wrap-up, and you can find the previous wrap-ups linked at the end of the article.
Here's his take on Duke:
Not that we’re allowed to re-pick brackets, but my new Final Four matchups would be Ohio State-Duke and Kansas-Wisconsin, with the best regional final being staged between the Blue Devils and San Diego State. The Dukies who showed up on Sunday wouldn’t be capable of beating San Diego State in an Anaheim final … but they are capable of getting past the Aztecs if Kyrie Irving makes progress over the next week. SDSU’s front line is unreal, but it doesn’t have the guard-play to match what the Blue Devils can potentially get out of Nolan Smith and Irving.
This, unfortunately, is what everyone will be concluding after the near-comeback. But if we'd just played our style and taken down the Wolverines by 20, I don't think anyone would be so eager to write us off. Also, I know we're all supposed to be doing backflips over Ohio State, but let's see how they do against Kentucky first.
See you tomorrow for the Duke-Zona preview and Sweet 16 picks.