“It all started with the Klay toaster last year. Since then, everyone’s been trying to get the next big one.” — Reddit user legendariuss
On March 13, Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson signed a fan’s toaster at an autograph signing in San Francisco. That fan, whom The Wall Street Journal later identified as Ronnie Reyes, then took to Reddit to express his excitement over said marked-up breakfast food maker. On the Warriors-specific subreddit, r/warriors — and, subsequently, on the NBA Reddit, r/NBA — Reyes, under the username RDollaz, proclaimed: “Klay Thompson signed my toaster.”
The Warriors, even without Kevin Durant (left knee) for most of the end of the regular season, went on to win 31 of their next 33 games (including the playoffs) and their second title in three years.
“There were a bunch of comments in the Postgame threads on the /r/warriors subreddit that said ‘2–0 since the toaster was signed!,’” Reyes told me in a message. “I thought it was great because it poked fun at really specific stats that get brought up by broadcasters during the game. Something like ‘LeBron James has never lost on a Tuesday when scoring 10+ points, while wearing a white headband and shoes aren’t laced past the sixth hole, in the last 5 seasons (not including playoffs)’ for example.”
After the Warriors beat the Cavaliers in five games in the NBA Finals, Thompson helped get Reyes, also known as “the Toaster Guy,” to the team’s championship parade.
This season, NBA Reddit users have quietly embarked on a quest to try to top it.
On Wednesday, legendariuss submitted a post to r/NBA attempting to capitalize on Russell Westbrook’s dismissive comment to ESPN’s Doris Burke after last Friday’s triple-overtime victory over the 76ers. The headline read, “Since claiming ‘I don’t give a damn about percentages,’ Russell Westbrook is averaging 29 points on 59%FG (63%TS).”
One month ago, when the Magic held a surprising 4–1 record, Aaron Gordon proclaimed, “People aren’t going to take us lightly, and if they do, we’re going to blow them out.” On Wednesday, user lurker7087 pointed out that since Gordon’s quote, the Magic have gone 7–19. The update to the post’s original comment is the best part: “They are now 7–20 after getting blown out 112–94 by the Bulls.”
“I think a lot of those kind of posts increased after the toaster thing. Didn’t really see them before,” user vinhhsanityy, who posted in March that the Warriors were 10–0 after the toaster signing, said in a message.
Wednesday was a popular day for these “Ever since …” posts. User VinceMeatPie pointed out that the Sixers were 1–6 since trading Jahlil Okafor. (A loss Thursday to the Raptors dropped them to 1–7.) MasterBac posted, “Since being told to ‘Go home’ by Russell Westbrook, Joel Embiid has not played a minute.” The post went viral, vaulting to the first page of r/NBA. He then added an edit. “Just to be clear, I actually like Embiid and was just making a joke at his expense. Get well soon big guy.”
The goal, it seems, is to pinpoint the inciting incident for the league’s next big streak. For instance, earlier this season, when the Celtics were losing to the Sixers at halftime, Kyrie Irving shouted an expletive at a fan in the stands. The Celtics won that game 102–92, and Kyrie apologized. Some Reddit users called it a catalyst for Boston’s 16-game winning streak. “[That one] was pretty good,” legendarrius said.
Overexposure is also a factor. More people than ever are watching the NBA. More people are talking about it on Twitter and other platforms. We get highlights, memes, quotes, and more on a nightly basis. There’s the drama, the pettiness, and then the game results themselves. It’s all encompassing, just the way NBA fans want it so that they don’t miss a thing. And if everything gets talked out, everything gets covered, and if everything gets covered, everything gets analyzed and overanalyzed. Reality becomes malleable, with shape-shifting stats and records that conform to certain events.
“I think now that we’re super exposed to the league and all the different things that players do, it’s easy to get a small sample size of things that coincide with something the player did,” legendarrius said.
Even The Ringer got looped into the “Ever since …” vortex. After we wrote “It’s Time to Take Andre Drummond and the Pistons Seriously” earlier this month, Detroit lost seven straight games. Following our writeup on the Blazers entitled “The Blazers Finally Have the Edge They Needed,” Portland lost five in a row. After we wrote about the Raptors’ bench thriving, they struggled for two games, prompting the Reddit thread: “How has The Ringer screwed your team over?” The Ringer curse was born.
Maybe one day, one of the streaks it “produces” will reach toaster status.
“I know these types of stats are common, not just in the NBA, but in all sports where you can pinpoint where things started to trend the opposite way because of a significant event,” Reyes said. “In my case, I was just lucky to have a player with so much meme-potential in Klay.”