Von Wafer has bounced around the NBA since 2005. He’s played on six different teams during that time, occasionally working himself into the rotation (9.7 points per game for the Rockets in 2008-9), and occasionally celebrating missed dunks. Not exactly the kind of guy whose every tweet would cause an uproar. But earlier today, something appeared on Wafer’s Twitter account that was…different. Here’s what it said:
We expected this tweet would disappear in short order, and Wafer would claim his account got hacked, because that’s what always happens when unusual tweets appear in someone’s feed. Usually, it’s not terribly believable, but in this case, we’d probably have bought it. Why? Well, just the night before, Wafer was tweeting things like this. Plus, the tweet didn’t look like a failed direct message either (why would he say “y’all” to one person?). Maybe overnight, Wafer had an epiphany and decided he was ready to usher in what could potentially be a watershed moment for the entire issue of homosexuality in sports. Or maybe he didn’t. Our money was, and still is, on the latter.
Here’s the odd thing, though: as of this writing, the tweet is still there. That could change at any moment (can you tell we still doubt its authenticity?), but it was sent two hours ago. That’s an uncommonly long time for a fake tweet to last. We still don’t think Wafer actually sent it, but we’d think he, or someone close to him, would be aware of it by now.
And then, there’s the matter of the reaction to the tweet. Some were skeptical it was real. Others showcased why it would be unprecedented for a mid-career male pro athlete like Wafer to actually come out (if, of course, he were actually doing so). Most, though, seemed…fine with it (again, if true):
So, maybe Von Wafer didn’t mean to come out and tell everyone he wants to be gay. We’ll believe that tweet is real when he says it himself, and we’re not holding our breath. But he might have inadvertently showed that whichever active male pro athlete does eventually come out of the closet will, in addition to the inevitable backlash, also receive a not-insignificant amount of support.
Who knows, maybe someone out there, someone who could be that person, saw the relatively tepid reaction and wondered if maybe coming out would be more doable than they thought. Or maybe Wafer will come out, say he got hacked, the tweet will disappear, and that will be the end of it. But to us, the tenor of the overall reaction to what’s probably fake news actually has some real implications.
UPDATE: At last, the denial we were expecting from Team Wafer: according to USA Today NBA writer J. Michael Falgoust, Wafer’s agent denied his client was the one who sent that tweet. It doesn’t mean Wafer actually didn’t, but even if he did (which would still make no sense to us), he’s not owning up to it.
Getty photo, by Elsa