By In Stuff


OK, so you no doubt have seen those Samsung appliance commercials with Kristen Bell and her husband Dax Shepard. Every single time one of those commercials plays in our house — and I mean EVERY SINGLE TIME — my wife Margo turns to me and says, “Why aren’t they like our best friends?” I mean every time. It’s occasionally a bit scary. She is absolutely convinced that if Kristen and Dax, as we have started to call them, knew us, we would totally hang out, go to dinners, catch movies, talk about all sorts of stuff (school? food? politics? appliances?), our daughters would babysit their daughters and so on.

Of course, Margo is just one of about a billion people who feel that way, which is why those commercials are crazy effective. And this is the point. There is a connection that crosses television, through movie screens, over social networks. Yes, much is made about how that connection isn’t “real.” We obviously don’t know Kristen and Dax at all, and it’s fairly unlikely that their entire days are spent having impossibly cute banter related to refrigerators and washing machines.

On the other hand … so what? It’s a connection. In this crazy, ever-shrinking, ever-expanding world of 7.4 billion people, I just don’t see what’s bad about any connection.

I bring this up because the other couple that Margo is utterly convinced would be our best friends is Ayesha and Stephen Curry. I have spoken with Steph on a number of occasions in a sports way, and he’s obviously just great. But it is at least equally clear that Ayesha is one of the coolest people around. I mean, no, we have never met her. But it’s clear anyway. You have no doubt seen the Don’t Drop the Baklava Vine. You have undoubtedly seen the Minions “Ba-na-na” thing they did with Michelle Obama.  You have probably seen her doing some incredibly cool thing with their kids or some deeply thoughtful thing in the community or some mouth-watering food preparation thing. How in the world can you not love her?

On Thursday, toward the end of an impossibly emotional NBA Finals Game 6, Steph Curry fouled out for the first time all year. He fouled out on a silly little bump with LeBron James in the backcourt, one that had no bearing on the game whatsoever. In real time, Steph lost his mind for a second and flung his mouthpiece in frustration. This wasn’t gallant, of course. It wasn’t sporting. But it was understandable. Athletes in today’s world have to walk this strange little tightrope.

We don’t want them to be automatons, sputtering cliches and moping blankly through wins and losses — that will inspire crazy Twitter rage.

Ah but we don’t want them pounding their chest or screaming powerful opinions at sideline reporters or lashing out at the pain of losing — that will also inspire crazy Twitter rage.

So where are they supposed to exist?

And if athletes are boxed into this ridiculous corner, what about their families? Father’s Day approaches, and I can tell you what every father can tell you: It’s HORRIBLE watching your family member play sports. I mean, it’s also BEAUTIFUL and STIRRING and WONDERFUL and all sorts of other joyous all-capital words, but don’t leave out HORRIBLE because that’s there too.

You have no control over the moment. That seems to be the big thing. When you play a game yourself, you are inside, and that’s a whole other feeling. You are too busy to worry, too involved to fear, too much a part of things to see clearly. When you sit in the stands, there on the field or the court is someone you love more than you love yourself, and at any moment, well, 500 terrible things might happen. And all you can do is watch.

It’s not something I could have ever imagined before having kids, but my stomach hurts all day before my daughters play games, and they’re still young, their games don’t matter at all, the whole point for them is just having fun. Still. I want so badly for them to do well. I want so badly for them to be treated fairly. Our 11-year-old plays basketball for a fun little church league, and I would never admit out loud the horrible thoughts that cross my mind when watching her play. I’m embarrassed by how much I rage on the inside against the overbearing coaches who scream, the half-assing referees who are going through the motions, the little girls who are physical and mean and try to intimidate, the teammates who refuse to see that she’s WIDE OPEN UNDER THE BASKET.

Of course, I have never said a word, never would say a word, the madness passes quickly. But that’s 11-year-old basketball in a fun church league. If my daughter played in the WNBA, I am entirely certain that I would be a complete madman. Seriously. They would have to take Twitter, my phone, my computer and every other means of communication away from me. I would be a danger to society.

Back to Ayesha. Thursday was apparently an awful day for her. Ayesha’s father had been mistakenly threatened with arrest in a horrendous and emotionally painful blunder. She said that a cousin was barred from a Cleveland area casino because he was wearing Warriors stuff. The players’ families were kept on a bus outside the arena for way too long. Imagine how worn thin she was. Imagine how worn thin you are just because your flight got canceled or you get stuck in traffic.

Then she watched her husband — who unquestionably has been getting manhandled and grabbed and shoved around all year — foul out of an NBA Finals game because he apparently knocked down the 6-foot-8 freight train that is LeBron James by slightly bumping him after going for a loose ball.

What did she do? You know EXACTLY what she did. She reflex-tweeted out something to the effect that there was an NBA conspiracy to force a Game 7 because, well, money.

I thought it was absolutely fantastic. I don’t mean to make light of the situation because it was real and it was raw, but like always I thought Ayesha Curry was absolutely fantastic. I immediately retweeted it and asked if it would be the most retweeted thing ever. I mean, what a gift that is: Ayesha Curry letting us in like that. What is it like to be Ayesha Curry at that exact moment? She told us. She generously invited us, all of us, into her feelings, into her emotions in that crazy painful instant.

I mean this is one of those things that social media is supposed to be about, this gets at that connection that we all crave, no? I grew up in Cleveland, love Cleveland, desperately root for Cleveland, and I still felt that deep bond with Ayesha Curry. How would I feel if I was her in that moment? I would feel like there was damn well an NBA conspiracy to force a Game 7. I would feel like the Kremlin was involved.

The feeling passes, of course it does, and after a little while Ayesha Curry removed the Tweet and apologized for it. I don’t think she needed to apologize for anything. She flashed emotion in an emotional moment, that’s all. Twitter would be so much better if Tweets only lasted as long as you felt those feelings and then faded away the way spoken words do. But that’s not how it works, what goes on the Internet is there forever.

Still, like always, our family loved Ayesha Curry for Tweeting her feelings and letting us into her life just a little bit more. Anger is a part of life. Frustration is a part of life. She let us feel those things with her. Yes, we loved her more after that Tweet. We felt sure that’s how most people would feel.

And then … the backlash came.

And then the backlash to the backlash came.

I don’t want to go into all that. You can go on the Internet and see the nonsense for yourself. I don’t know if the backlash really represents most people’s feelings or is just part of the infinite mirror reflections of hot takes. It doesn’t matter, I guess. I really just want to say to our friend we have never met Ayesha Curry that you are awesome. We are just one of a billion families that want to be your best friend.

28 Responses to Ayesha

  1. Dano says:

    It reflected poorly on her husband, his employer and the whole NBA. It also may have been a bit more understandable had the game even been somewhat close but the Warriors were blown out in the first quarter and could only scratch back to make it somewhat competitive. It wasn’t a game that came down to the last minute, but none of the games have been that all series.

  2. invitro says:

    It’s simple, really. Ayesha is not “one of the coolest people around.” She’s the debutante Senator’s daughter who can’t believe that the plebes are treating her like some commoner.

    • Rob Smith says:

      I think being upset about having one of your parents racially profiled might not quite fit your characterization.

      • invitro says:

        On the contrary, having delusions of victimization are precisely part of the characterization.

        • SDG says:

          How is it a delusion of anything? Her father really WAS racially profiled. And everyone in the world has reacted in anger, said something they didn’t mean, and then felt bad and apologized. Even you, I bet.

  3. Darren C says:

    Every time somebody gets piled on for expressing an opinion on antisocial media I’m reminded of the following lyrics from ‘Know Your Rights’ by The Clash….

    You have the right to free speech
    As long as
    You’re not dumb enough to actually try it

  4. Geoff says:

    On the Effectively Wild podcast, one of the memes is that baseball players, or at least the vast majority of them, aren’t actually funny, and that it’s always a letdown when someone tries to relay some anecdote about clubhouse hijinks as if it was a episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. I have no idea if Steph and Ayesha are fun to hang out with, but if the evidence they are is videos like that “don’t drop that baklava” one, I’m not that optimistic. If my wife and I had made exactly the same video it would have gotten like 12 facebook “likes” and been forgotten.

    In any case, I don’t really care what Ayesha Curry tweets about, but I do think she has some obligation as the wife of an NBA player, to be respectful of the organization that employs her husband, at least publicly. The stuff about the bus, her cousin, etc.* is fine, but I doubt you’d appreciate it if Margo launched an outlandish and baseless tweet about NBC because they didn’t publish something you wrote.

    *Btw, that story the NBA made up about security confusing her dad with David Aminzadeh is total horsesh*t. Not sure if racial profiling was the cause, but there’s no way a reasonable person could get them confused.

  5. Don Norcross says:

    Posnanski is the best sportswriter in America. Bar none.

    • Jeff says:

      he’s good as long as he’s not defending Joe Paterno or talking about Springsteen.

      • MikeN says:

        Heaven forbid he should defend someone who decided not to pursue things after it was reported to police and they didn’t prosecute.

        • Jeff says:

          yeah, that’s not what happened.

        • David Hendrickson says:

          Bullshit. Are you telling us that Paterno didn’t know the extent of the problem, and Jerry Sandusky deserved to keep his job for several more years after Paterno knew what Sandusky was doing?

          Paterno is just another example of the Catholic Church’s standards and morals.

      • invitro says:

        Actually, Joe was at his best when he was defending Paterno’s right to due process, and decrying mob rule, which you must be a fan of.

  6. Pat Dolwick says:


    Thanks for establishing another connection through your writing. Your words never fail to make me happy.

    Pat D.

  7. Rob Smith says:

    My kids played High School basketball. It’s a VERY emotional game. Some parents sit off by themselves so (1) nobody hears them going crazy and (2) so they don’t have to listen to anyone else’s crazy. My emotions move quickly from despair to exhilaration, and back again. I try to never say anything, but sometimes fail. My wife quickly reminds me to shut the hell up, as she should. Still I’ve never felt the urge to express my anger publicly on social media and intentionally let my crazy loose. I don’t get that. I never will.

    • Nancy says:

      Fans forget wives and family members of sports figures represents not only the player but the organization as well. Her last name being Curry does not change the storyline here. There is a game 7 with distractions in the locker room for her husband. And less be honest, if that had been Lebron’s wife who did the same the comments would be wild and nasty.

      • SDG says:

        We aren’t defending her actions as saying that they were understandable. She said something in the heat of the moment, when she was under a lot of stress, that she then regretted and tried to take back. She didn’t physically attack anyone. She didn’t use ethnic slurs. She basically said “this is bullshit” about a blown call, which every athlete has done in the history of sports.

        And honestly, if she only ever gave canned robotic answers about how great everything is, like Derek Jeter, people would resent that too.

  8. Mike says:

    I would also add that I getting exhausted with the Outrage Machine that fires up every time someone famous (or even not famous) says something dumb on social media. It’s a moment in time. People say stupid, angry or uninformed things all the time. If you were in a bar with an opposing fan and they said, “Aw, man, this game is fixed!” you wouldn’t punch them in the face. Especially if they calmed down after a moment and said, “Oh, well, that’s the way it goes”. But with a stranger on the internet and a screen-capture, we feel this swell of self-righteousness because they said … what a million Warriors fans were saying at the moment (and probably quite a few non-Warriors fans). Give me a break.

  9. Margaret Howland says:

    Lovely column, Joe. Especially as you let us in, as Ayesha did.
    Any of us who have been parents (or grandparents, as I am) of athletes at any level, or wives or husbands or children of athletes, or of anyone else who practices a trade in the public eye, can relate.
    Thank you!

  10. Scott says:

    Ironic that you dismiss as “hot takes” the responses to Curry’s white-hot hot take.

  11. Chris says:

    The most shocking thing to me about this: other people can be shocked by the suggestion that NBA referees would try to influence results. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone who watches the NBA regularly who hasn’t (fairly or unfairly) had the same thought pop into their mind at least once. It may be time for a Tim Donaghy interview on the subject.

    • invitro says:

      Well, the fact that NBA refs have fixed games, and often, and in the playoffs, is not just a thought that pops into one’s head — it’s a FACT, plain and simple. But to play devil’s advocate a bit… I’ve watched the NBA closely for a very long time, and it does seem to me that it fixes playoff games much less than before the Donaghy scandal. The only really noticeable fixed games I can recall after the scandal were in the Miami-Dallas finals, and I am not sure if that was before or after the scandal.
      So recent or casual fans may not know that fixed playoff games used to be a normal occurrence.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Mark Cuban sends tweets out about referee incompetency and conspiracy theories every week. It’s tedious. His Twitter rants are often very stupid.

    • Brad says:

      A media outlet did contact Donaghy and he said he thought the games were rigged. Take that for what it’s worth. The real issue is the quality of the refereeing, which can be, to put it politely, uneven at times. I thought the Curry-LeBron collision should have been a no call, and even though I was rooting for the Cavs, I can absolutely understand both Curry’s explosions.
      Back to the referees: what a tough job, trying to control ten very large, very athletic men, trying to keep the game fair and clean and flowing. I wouldn’t want the job.

  12. duffsovietunion says:

    I’d much rather read Pos talk about Ayesha than hear Stephen A Smith, noted domestic violence apologist, mansplain to her about how to be a good wife which apparently involves never talking.

    Seriously, why are people so upset about what she said? Hasn’t literally every NBA fan said what she said at some point?

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