At the end of each week, The Ringer’s ace blog team will appoint a special counsel to determine which person(s) in the NBA world rose above the rest. This week’s pick is … the phrase “U bum!”
Four letters, two words, one obloquy: “U bum.”
On September 23, 2017, at 11:17 a.m. ET, LeBron James delivered his opus in response to the leader of our country’s choice to “withdraw” Golden State’s invitation to the White House for a customary post-championship visit:
U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 23, 2017
(The uninviting was also communicated on Twitter, from the president of the United States’ personal account.)
LeBron refused to use President Donald Trump’s name the next day while talking to the media, referring to him as “that guy.” But it was his original sobriquet that inspired the internet: “U bum” hats were made; T-shirt designs were rolled out; Whoopi Goldberg borrowed the insult for national television. It was James’s most popular tweet (666K retweets and counting) since he joined the social media platform (and double the retweets of his subject’s most successful post—though Trump might tell you otherwise).
Though the two are often pitted against each other in their jobs, James’s support for Stephen Curry set the tone for media day, during which strong, league-wide comments on social injustice left a more substantial imprint than any basketball talk. “U bum” will live on, cemented in Twitter (James did not delete the tweet, and told media he doesn’t regret the words), embossed on V-necks and dad hats, and always serving as a reminder of one truth: getting dunked on is bipartisan.
Runner-up: The Legend of (Training Camp) Lonzo Ball
Lonzo Ball became a training-camp phenom on just the first night of five-on-five practice. Accounts of his leadership became urban legend after he went 3-0 in scrimmages—with only bench (yes, bench) players on his team. The next day, he improved to 6-0. (Goat emoji.)
“It’s almost as if the game is moving a little bit slower for him than everyone else,” said Luke Walton.
“His vision is obviously second to none,” said teammate Julius Randle. “He looked amazing.”
“He makes the right pass every time,” said veteran Corey Brewer.
Every time! Lonzo, glowing in purple and gold, seemed unaware of his own aura when he spoke to the media after practice. “It was pretty fun for me,” he said, once again throwing an assist by being so soporific that his teammates’ more interesting quotes shone.
There aren’t banners for training camp (yet). Runner-up here will have to do.
Honorable Mention: The City of Oakland
The Warriors sent out a press release on Thursday saying that the franchise will cover the costs of its championship parade, footing the bill for the city of Oakland—which apparently can throw a damn party. The city gave an initial estimate of $300,000 in total costs for the event, then ended up spending over double that, which Golden State recounted on the press release to the exact dollar, $786,988.
“This amount comes on top of the nearly $6 million the Warriors have already spent,” the release said, “to produce two victory parades in Oakland; most American cities cover the majority of the expenses associated with victory parades.”
Statement from Warriors on their parade spending. They paid nearly $800K but don't sound too pleased because original estimate was $300K pic.twitter.com/9BvuwqaamG— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) September 28, 2017
The franchise is expected to leave Oakland for San Francisco for the 2019-20 season. In the meantime, at least Oakland isn’t the one picking up the champion$hip check—no matter how begrudgingly Golden State is reaching for it.