Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant supposedly are feuding in cyberspace, and it is silly and fun and stupid and great and maybe just plain weird, all at once.
The weird part first: The feud might be a fraud. It might be a stroke of publicity genius-gall orchestrated by Gatorade, and by two of its star clients playing social-media like their own personal Stradivarius.
I mean, they starred as rivals one-upping each other in last seasons wake-from-a-bad-dream commercial. Would it surprise in the least if this weeks little back-and-forth war turned out to be simply a contrived setup for a Gatorade sequel ad?
It would not. Advertisers have stooped lower. And there is no law (yet) against Twitter celebrities using the reach and gullibility of the Internet for their own device.
But what if it isn't a fake? Then it would reveal an underlying poignancy, which would be the only reason the exchange is worth exploring. Even if it IS a fake, its the core believability of it Durant seeming to doubt whether Wade is still elite that is interesting to me.
Lets back up. If you havent heard, Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar, in an interview with CineSport, objected that his former teammate James Harden was not included in a Sports Illustrated list of the NBAs 10 best players entering this coming season. (Durant was ranked second, after LeBron James; Wade was eighth). Asked who should be left out to include Harden, Durant replied without hesitation.
Dwyane Wade! he said.
The social media age keeps no secrets, of course, and based on Wades reaction what Durant said hit a nerve.
Dont believe me just watch, Wade said on Twitter late Tuesday, accompanied by a handwritten note on Instagram that read: 9-24-13. Kevin Durant said James Harden should replace me in the top 10. Note to self: Make him respect your place in history again.
(The again likely referred to Wades Heat beating Durants Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals, the second of three championship rings for Wade. Which is three more than Durant, by the way, for those scoring at home).
Durant, not done (or not done with the ruse), fired a Twitter salvo back at Wade, saying, Show me dont tweet me.
All of this is noteworthy on the face of it because it is rare that one NBA star will publicly call out another, and Durant basically was suggesting Wade is overrated. (This is also was makes it suspicious as much as noteworthy).
If its real, the little feud is interesting mostly because it would peel back a curtain on Wades mind and reveal how sensitive he is to his status as an elite player, and to that being questioned let alone by a rival all-star.
That wouldn't be cocky ego flexing itself in Wade.
That would be wounded pride.
That would be Wade being forced to confront where he is, career-wise, and where he is headed.
This is why I find this whole thing interesting whether its real or a fake. Because even if its a fake, the premise young superstar Durant questioning if older star Wade is still top-10 is real. Its reality.
Wade readjusted his pride with grace to accept LeBron as a teammate and know he would no longer be seen as even the best player on his own team.
Now, at age 31 (turning 32 in January), Wade understands surely even without Durant reminding him, real or pretend that he is fighting the clock to remain elite.