Hack Attack

When there's a problem on an athlete's or a coach's social media account, there's only one thing to do: Blame someone else
March 07, 2016

FOR GOING ON a solid decade now, the New York Knicks have made a habit of finding creative ways to embarrass the franchise. New depths were plumbed on Feb. 21, when the Twitter account of Kurt Rambis, the team's interim coach, issued a "like" of pornographic content from the account @ilike2touch.

But wait: Team officials tell us that this wasn't Rambis's doing; he had been hacked. "Kurt did not like those items on his Twitter page," a Knicks spokesman said, "and we worked with Twitter to make sure the situation did not happen again."

If that sounds familiar, it's with good reason. There's more hacking of athletes' social media accounts than hacking of DeAndre Jordan at the end of a close game. In 2014, Bleacher Report listed 10 ATHLETES WHO TOTALLY HAD THEIR TWITTER HACKED. It must have been a selective list, because just two years before that, the same website had offered a slide show of 20 ATHLETES WHO GOT "HACKED" ON TWITTER.

From then-Wizards forward Andray Blatche challenging a fan to a fight in February 2011; to Metta World Peace, most unpeacefully, complaining about Phil Jackson in May 2010; to Ray Allen, who in December 2009—well, Google that one when you're not at work—none of these regrettable tweets were executed by the actual athletes. They were all, we're to believe, the handiwork of hackers.

And it's not limited to the NBA. When then-Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes invited a fan to commit suicide in April 2010? Hack. When MMA fighter Tito Ortiz posted a naked photo of himself in June 2011? Hack.

Nor is it limited to Twitter. Last year Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, an ex-Patriot, lashed out at a New England fan over Instagram. "Wait did you physically go out there & play? Like did you actually play one down, lol no. So your best is to shut the f**k up, be a spectator, & watch me do something you wish you could do," he wrote. Or didn't write. Within a few hours of the post he noted, over Twitter, "My IG got hacked. No big deal!!!" In January, Lakers coach Byron Scott appeared to have challenged a fan to a fight, Blatche-style. Except that he, too, had been a victim of digital sleight of hand. "There was someone that got my password to respond back to a fan as if they were me. My social media is only for positive and uplifting things."

These frequent security breaches are causes for concern, but they provoke a host of questions. If Internet menaces were really intent on hacking the social media account of a sports figure, it's curious they would target Rambis, who had fewer than 45,000 followers at the time of the incident. (His account has since been deactivated.) The mind strains to envision hackers saying among themselves, "You know who might use 12345 as a password? Kurt Rambis!"

Besides, wouldn't a hacker hell-bent on humiliating Rambis be more prone to issue a tweet saying something like, "Please remove my interim tag"? Simply "liking" a pornographic tweet? That seems like an awfully subtle way for a hacker to roll.

It's also odd that this army of sports hackers always seems to seek embarrassment. You'd think that, just once, hackers would use their tech savvy for good. It's curious that no athlete has claimed to have been hacked when the tweet was about organ donation or supporting cancer research. And what do we make of Larry Nance Jr., who as a freshman at Wyoming in May 2012 tweeted unfavorably about Kobe Bryant, and then, last June, got drafted by the Lakers? This would seem like an obvious hack, but, no, Nance admitted that it was his tweet and took responsibility.

"My account was hacked" has become a modern version of the-dog-ate-my-homework. If so, shame on the athletes. Taking accountability for miscues—no matter how regrettable—forms one of the organizing principles of sports. Attributing a mistake to hacking is the digital equivalent of blaming your equipment or selling out a teammate.

But let's save some outrage, too, for the p.r. operatives who traffic in this shabby alibi, who play the fans for fools, who—instead of providing social media training—provide cover. There's a word for this kind of feckless enabler: a hack.

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GO FIGURE

8 AND 12

The number of home losses and consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles, respectively, since the start of the 2004--05 season for Kansas, which beat Texas Tech 67--58 last Saturday in Lawrence to ensure the Jayhawks at least a share of the title. Only UCLA (13 from 1966--67 to '78--79) has won more league titles in a row than Kansas, which is 192--8 at home over the last 12 seasons.

$400 MILLION

Amount donated to Stanford by Nike founder Phil Knight, an Oregon alum, matching John Paulson's donation to Harvard as the single biggest gift by a person to one university.

5TH

Ranking of Tim Tebow in a recent poll asking Americans to name their favorite NFL quarterback. Tebow, who received support from 7% of the 410 fans surveyed by Public Policy Polling, has not played in the NFL since 2013.

$11,000

Amount a German tourist was fined last week after being convicted of killing an endangered nene goose on Mauna Kea Golf Course in Waimea, Hawaii, on Feb. 6. Uwe Dettmar, 74, says he ran the bird over with a golf cart because his wife is afraid of geese.

PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONILLUSTRATION BY JOSEPH DARROW PHOTOTONY GUTIERREZ/AP (KANSAS) PHOTOCHRIS PIETSCH/AP (KNIGHT) PHOTOGARY C. CASKEY/UPI (TEBOW) PHOTOBARRY BATCHELOR/AP (GOOSE)

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