In this series, we examine the wisest, most insightful, and profound Twitter musings of our favorite Ivy scholars who also happen to play basketball.
After a monumental win, you’d forgive a player for experiencing a range of emotions. Sometimes the mood is joyous and proud; other times it’s tired and reflective. Rarely, if ever, is it indignant. But Harvard forward Kyle Casey blazed a new trail with this reaction after the Crimson beat No. 20/22 Florida St. last week:
After two games’ worth of commentary extolling the virtue of Harvard’s unselfish, team-first approach, the irony of Casey’s tweet was rich and delicious. I laughed out loud because it so flagrantly violated the expectations of the moment. I wasn’t alone in my surprise either, as I received an email just minutes after the post with the subject heading, “what a dick”. But such a public display of egotism is so easy to criticize that I’d rather explore what’s praiseworthy about it.
Here, Casey is nothing if not sincere and honest. Personally, I would always rather hear a player’s true feelings, even when inflammatory, than swallow more of the mundane coach-speak that typifies athletes’ relationship with the media. Those feelings better approximate reality than the convenient, simplistic narratives espoused by puppet figures. The truth is that players care about their individual accomplishments. There’s no sense pretending otherwise. Perhaps this impulse is selfish, but that is the Hobbesian state of nature.
In less than 140 characters, Casey demonstrates a fundamental aspect of basketball: the frequent asymmetry between the individual and the team. Basketball more than any other sport wrestles with the balance between “we” and “I”. That interplay is part of the nuance that makes the sport so compelling. But the collective goals ultimately subsume the interests of the individual; Harvard fans are quick to deride Casey’s concern for his statistics because it potentially threatens the greater aim of winning.
It’s not as if the content of Casey’s complaint would negatively affect the team: his getting credit for fewer turnovers would have no impact on the game’s outcome. It’s also hard to imagine his teammates taking exception to a gripe as trivial as this one. But even a whiff of self-interest is seen as an enemy to communal goals. The result is that honesty, sincerity, and personal expression are not long for this business.
Casey’s tweet has since been deleted.